Treatments for Iatrophobia
In many cases, specific phobias tend to become worse over time, to the point where some patients require medication in order to function in the outside world. Luckily, there are several promising treatment options available to those who have the intense fear of doctors.
Systematic Desensitization, or exposure therapy, focuses on slowly exposing patients to their fears, thus minimizing the symptoms and effects of the phobia. For example, the first step may be talking to the patient about doctors' offices and getting them to explain exactly what it is that makes them afraid. Then the patient may look at pictures of doctors or hospitals. Once the patient is more comfortable with these pictures, they may continue with the therapy by talking to doctors on the phone, meeting them in a neutral situation, and finally going to a hospital. Systematic desensitization has been proven to be effective for patients with iatrophobia.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a commonly used therapy for anxiety and panic disorder patients. CBT focuses on the patients' fears and their underlying thought processes to ultimately challenge the original causes of the phobia.
In some cases, anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed for patients with iatrophobia. Generally speaking, medication is only effective for short term symptom treatment.
In order to be effectively treated, patients with iatrophobia should seek help from mental health professionals.