Overcoming Lab Test Anxiety

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Overcoming Lab Test Anxiety

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Written by Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 12 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

Raul Zambrano, MD

Reviewed by Raul Zambrano, MD

June 17, 2022 / Read Time 4 minutes

What is Lab Test Anxiety?

Lab test anxiety, known as medical test anxiety, occurs when you have physical and emotional symptoms prior to and during lab testing. Lab test anxiety can be associated with the fear of doctors or medical personnel.

Lab test anxiety is a real medical condition. Symptoms of lab test anxiety can range from mild uncomfortableness to severe phobia (diagnosed fear) called Iatrophobia. 

Medical test anxiety can be serious, causing people to avoid the doctor for simple preventative care. This avoidance can lead to avoidable  acute and chronic medical conditions. 

It is important to understand why individuals might  have test anxiety so that a coping mechanism can be learned in order to complete necessary medical testing.

What Factors Contribute to Lab Test Anxiety?

The following factors can contribute to causing lab test anxiety:

  • Health anxiety and fear in medical settings

  • Pandemic fears

  • Fear of needles

  • Social Anxiety

  • Price fears

  • Overwhelmed by limited timeframes

Health Anxiety

Underlying anxiety disorders are factors that can contribute to lab test anxiety. People diagnosed with general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder are more at risk to develop medical lab test anxiety. People with anxiety disorders have overactive parts of the brain that create higher perceived risks, even though, in reality, there is none or a very minimal threat. Generalized anxiety disorders can manifest as health anxiety and fear related to lab testing.

Pandemic Fears

The pandemic increased anxiety worldwide. People who were not diagnosed with anxiety were suddenly finding themselves feeling fearful about everyday tasks as well as leaving the house to get medical care. Pandemic fears contribute to lab test anxiety and also made those with social anxiety more fearful about going outside of their homes. 

The fear of catching COVID, giving it to others, or being exposed, are valid concerns among people with lab test anxiety. When you get lab testing done in a healthcare environment, the medical professionals will keep the area clean and follow all healthcare protocols.

Fear of Needles

The fear of needles is a common cause of lab test anxiety and is called trypanophobia. This phobia is characterized as an excessive fear of needles, which may be so severe that it stops people from seeking medical care and treatments. 

Social Anxiety

The fear of being judged by a doctor may also be an influence on lab test anxiety. Some people may not get lab testing for fear that the results will be judged. All doctors are trained on ethical standards, not being judgemental, and providing equal care to all patients.

Price Fears 

Finding affordable, convenient healthcare is a common lab test anxiety factor. People may be fearful of the cost of laboratory testing. Many lab tests are covered by insurance plans, which helps to reduce costs. Overall, being proactive about your health is less expensive, since you avoid turning small problems into bigger more expensive problems that may need to be treated emergently. 

Limited Timeframes

Lab test anxiety is exacerbated when a person is not able to find convenient locations for medical treatments. Telehealth appointments can make getting lab testing easy, and convenient. Your PlushCare doctor can provide a lab testing order to a testing site near your home. If you cannot find a lab testing site near you, our Care Team can help you find a convenient location. Our Care Teams consists of a care coordinator, nurse, and physician. 

You can schedule appointments at many lab testing places using the PlushCare app. Overcoming lab test anxiety can be easy with the right tools, coping skills, and resources.

How to Overcome Lab Test Anxiety

  • Find the root cause of your lab test anxiety.

  • Rethink "bad" results.

  • Take control of appointment times and choose a location where you are comfortable.

Finding ways to cope with lab test anxiety can be accomplished by getting familiar with your inner self and figuring out the root cause of the anxiety. Introspection involves you taking a moment to listen to your body and mind in order to discover where the anxiety is coming from, how it feels inside your body, and ways to minimize the discomfort. Once you identify a source, you can work on ways to reduce your anxiety.

Knowledge is power when it comes to overcoming lab test anxiety. Understanding each lab test, why it is important, and what will be done with results are ways to reduce anxiety as you have more control over what is occurring. Being equipped with knowledge will reduce anxiety as you become more aware of the circumstances. Most fear is fear of the "unknown". So if you "know" all of the "unknowns," then your anxiety will naturally reduce.

There is no such thing as a "bad" test result, only abnormal. Abnormal test results are used to guide your treatment so that you can get the best outcomes. 

Normal test results give you the confidence and self-reassurance that everything is fine! If the results are of concern, then knowing the precise issue can empower you to take the right action.

To reduce pandemic fears, you can choose lab testing sites run by healthcare workers who know the importance of a clean environment and healthcare protocols to keep patients safe.

How Do I Deal with Anxiety Over a Medical Test?

How can I stop worrying about my blood test results?

  • Practice  focusing on the present moment and not the past or future. You cannot control the past or future  only how you react. 

  • Practice meditation or deep breathing techniques before your medical test.

  • Practice distraction during the medical test by talking to a friend or family member.

  • Count to 10 slowly and silently.

  • Close your eyes and imagine a peaceful, relaxing place.

Talk to a Doctor or Therapist About Lab Test Anxiety

Lab test anxiety can affect your livelihood, especially if it prohibits you from getting preventive care. Lab tests help doctors plan your treatments and provide high-quality care. Avoiding medical tests can be harmful to your health, and over time, could lead to the development of chronic illnesses and the costs associated with treatment.

The simple solution is to get lab testing with your primary care doctor. Prevention is key to good health outcomes. Talk with your PlushCare doctor or PlushCare therapist about your lab test anxiety.

Read More About Lab Test Anxiety


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