Doctor-Patient Stress Relief

The Doctor-Patient Relationship Can Be A Stressful One!

Doctor talking with patient in office
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The doctor-patient relationship is a very important one. Dealing with health issues, whether major or routine, can be stressful, and the relationship you have with your doctor can exacerbate or minimize some of that stress. The doctor-patient relationship and doctor-patient communication can impact how you feel about yourself during a vulnerable time, and can affect your health in several ways as well.

Having a good doctor--and by 'good', I mean one who is not only proficient at diagnosing and treating you but at treating you like a human being (and not merely a body to be cured), is important. A good doctor-patient relationship can greatly ease stress, but a bad one may actually impact your health, for a few reasons:

  1. Doctors Are Not Omniscient. In fact, much of what they know about your condition is based on what you tell them you are experiencing. If you feel disrespected by your doctor, or if you aren't really listened to, some important information may be lost.
  2. Doctors Aren't Omnipotent, Either. Your doctor may believe that he or she is the only one with the power to help you, and you are just a body to be cured. If you buy into that belief, too, you may not do everything you can to help yourself. In reality, healing from a condition is usually done most effectively when you are an active participant, not when the healing is 'done to' you. When your doctor treats you like a partner, you see yourself that way and become one.
  1. You May Experience Less Stress. Because stress has an impact not only on the ease with which you deal with diseases and conditions but often can affect the actual outcome (stress affects the immune system and many other systems in the body, thus affecting health). If you're not being treated with respect, you may experience more stress as you deal with your situation, and that can counteract your healing.

    So what steps can be taken to ensure a positive doctor-patient relationship? Fortunately, there are several steps that can be taken, and even if you feel somewhat powerless in dealing with illness, you can feel empowered as you take charge of your own care. Here are some ideas to keep in mind:

    Talk To Your Doctor

    Using non-confrontational language, you may do well to tell your doctor if you're not feeling fully respected in the doctor-patient relationship. Tell him or her your concerns--that may be enough to turn things around. (Read more about assertiveness training.)

    Talk To Your Friends

    I once went to a doctor who was openly rude to me from day one--I stuck with him for a while, but things never got better; this guy was on a power-trip and wasn't as knowledgeable as he pretended to be. After a while I realized that I needed to get a new doctor. I put the word out and asked friends for doctor referrals, and eventually found one who I liked much better. The moral of the story is, doing your research on doctors--not only checking out their credentials online (UCompare Healthcare is a great resource!), but asking actual patients what they think of their bedside manner--can help you get better leads on a good doc.

    Be Prepared

    While going online isn't the best way to diagnose or treat diseases and conditions (it's important to see a doctor if you have concerns with your health), you can gain a wealth of information from sites like our own Verywell or the A.D.A.M Medical Encyclopedia. Learning as much as you can about what symptoms are important to mention to your doctor, and being somewhat knowledgeable about conditions you're dealing with can make it easier for your doctor to talk to you about your health--you'll both 'speak the same language'. You may also become more aware of important questions to ask, things to look at, and issues to address. Become the one in charge of your health and you can better partner with your doctor.

    Turn To Stress Management

    If you're stuck with a doctor you don't 'click' with, and can't switch doctors, having some effective stress management techniques available for use can lessen the stress that you feel in dealing with a less-than-friendly doctor. If you're getting stressed during a doctor's appointment, try some breathing exercises in the moment to relax yourself. If you're concerned about the appointment, bring a supportive friend, who can be a calming presence, a source of strength, and an extra set of ears to help you remember everything that was said, if necessary. Use optimistic thinking to focus on the positive and let the negative roll off your back.

    Read Up on Patient Empowerment

    Verywell has a Patient Empowerment section that's excellent. You can read about many different ways you can get the best quality care possible, with as little stress as possible. Bookmark it!

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