Fear Of Doctors: Definition, Symptoms, Treatments

The fear of doctors or iatrofobia , or fear of doctors, is surprisingly common nowadays. Most of us don’t really like going to the doctor.

From the long waits to the cold and sterile environment to the possibility of a painful procedure, visits to the doctor can cause anxiety in almost anyone. For some people, however, normal anxiety gives way to outright panic.

Iatrophobia or normal anxiety?

Because it is normal to be nervous before a visit to the doctor, it can be difficult to determine if your symptoms constitute a total phobia. Only a qualified mental health professional can make this determination. However, some signs may mean that your fear is out of proportion to normal anxiety about doctor visits. You may experience all, some, or none of the following:

Related symptoms

Obsessive worry

Normal anxiety is typically transitory. You may feel a wave of nervousness when actively thinking about an upcoming date. You may feel stressed on the way to the doctor’s office or while sitting in the waiting room. However, you won’t spend much time thinking about an upcoming visit, and you may be distracted from anxiety if your fears are normal.

However, if you have iatrophobia, an upcoming visit to the doctor can be the source of endless worry. You may find it difficult or impossible to focus on other things. Once you have arrived at the doctor’s office, you are likely to experience feelings of panic and a feeling of being out of control. You may sweat, shake, or cry, or even refuse to go into the exam room.

You may also be interested in reading: Fear Of Vacuum Cleaners: Definition, Causes, Treatment

Other disease-related phobias

Many people with iatrophobia worry that they may need to see a doctor, even if there are currently no visits scheduled. You may become obsessed with minor illnesses, fearing that they will require medical treatment. It is relatively common for iatrophobia to occur in conjunction with hypochondria or nosophobia , which are disease phobias .

Postpone doctor appointments

Those who simply experience nervousness about doctor visits typically don’t try to avoid them. However, if you have iatrophobia, you may need to postpone checkups, vaccinations, and other routine care. You could suffer even relatively serious illnesses on your own, instead of seeking professional treatment.


Although either of the two phobias can occur independently, dentophobia or fear of dentists often occurs alongside iatrophobia. It’s common for dentists to trigger the same fears that doctors of all kinds trigger.

White coat hypertension

Although controversial, the phenomenon of white coat hypertension has been documented by numerous researchers. This occurs when the stress of seeing a doctor is enough to raise your blood pressure to a clinically significant level. Your blood pressure is normal when checked at home or at another location, such as a health fair, but it is high at the doctor’s office.

Treatments for fear of doctors

Fear of doctors can be more difficult to treat than many other phobias due to the nature of fear. Although phobias can generally be treated with a combination of medication and therapy, many people with iatrophobia fear mental health professionals, as well as other types of doctors. It can be difficult for you to visit a professional treatment provider.

Although it may temporarily make your anxiety worse, it is very important that you seek treatment. Over time, untreated iatrophobia can cause you to avoid necessary medical care. Which can put your health and well-being at risk, and can result in difficult and complicated medical procedures for conditions that would initially have been easy to treat.

Personalized treatment options

Some mental health providers offer services over the phone or online. Although it is always preferable to seek treatment in person, these services can help you tame your phobia enough to cope with an in-person visit.

Look for a mental health provider who offers services in a low-profile setting that is more homelike than clinical. Some professionals work from their homes or rented spaces in office buildings, rather than hospitals or medical facilities. Some wear jeans and other casual clothing, and others provide soothing music, televisions, and other services designed for relaxation.

A good treatment provider will work at your pace. He will take the time to allow you to get comfortable with the office environment before moving on to the phobia treatment. Common treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, and group seminars. Find a provider who offers the type of treatment that you are most comfortable with.

Seeking treatment for iatrophobia is never easy. However, with a little up-front research, you should be able to find a mental health provider who makes you feel comfortable. Bring someone with you to act as a support person if necessary, and focus on building trust with your provider before moving on to actual phobia treatment.

Georgia Tarrant
 | Website

Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.