Chills & Thrills | Latrophobia – The Fear of Doctors

Latrophobia, better known as “white coat syndrome” is the medical term for fear of doctors and affects about 20% percent of the US population. This phobia is more common in children, but few adults still suffer from this.

Cause of Latrophobia

Although it is very common in children, it is not uncommon for adults to suffer from this. Approximately 40% of Americans believe that doctors do not care as much as they did a decade ago. A few examples of what may trigger white coat syndrome or Latrophobia:

  • A negative experience
  • Accidents
  • Alcoholics or substance abusers – they feel like doctors might ask them to confront their issues
  • Deaths
  • Medical malpractices
  • News reports about “botched up” surgeries
  • Patient trust in doctors are declining
  • Trauma
  • Trouble the following authority

Symptoms of Latrophobia

A patient who has Latrophobia is comfortable talking in front of thousands of people, however, when in front of a doctor their confidence is not nearly as high. Symptoms include:

  • Children run, hide and scream
  • Fear illness/injuries
  • Muscular Tension
  • Nausea
  • Normal blood pressure at home but raised when done by a doctor’s clinic
  • Postponing appointments
  • Shaking
  • Trembling
  • Worry about the smallest things fearing that they will need medical treatment

Coping with Latrophobia

The answer is simple – take a deep breath and think positive. Remember, doctors, are here to help you and want your best interest. Discussing Latrophobia with the physician also helps. If speaking to a doctor is just too much to handle, there are other options to consider:

  • Ask questions to find out about the pain you might feel and how long this will last
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Confront anxiety and do your best to deal with it rationally
  • Identifying what makes you feel uneasy
  • If you have a fear of needles, ask for sedatives or anesthetics
  • Seek a new doctor – your gut feeling is often right, you may find a doctor that makes you feel more comfortable
  • Take someone with you for comfort

These are proven methods that have shown to help with relieving a fear of doctors. Dealing with the problem first requires opening up and admitting the fear exists. Share your experiences with a family member, a friend, or a person you trust. After all, some of the most powerful fears are the ones we avoid facing.