Phobia taking blood pressure

by Jim
(Louisiana)

I have this problem taking my blood pressure. It's not just white coat syndrome, I have the phobia and fear when I am home and trying to take it. When my BP is taken, I go into a panic and the reading shoots up very high which causes additional fear and panic. I obsess about this night and day, to the point of panic when just thinking about taking my BP. My Dr. wants a record from home to be more relaxed but to no avail. I keep cancelling Dr's appointments because of the panic and extreme stress this causes. Diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder. I have tried many, many meds. which have not helped, just added side effects. I have had this problem for about twenty years and would like to find relief and peace. Maybe someone could give some suggestions. Seeing a therapist and psychiatrist but little progress......thanks....Jim

Answer:

Phobias like this are more common than you may think. It can be really frustrating because the more you try to talk yourself out of becoming anxious, the more anxious you become.

Below are some relaxation exercises that might help because they involve re-training the body to respond differently. It takes most people a few weeks of daily practice to start to notice results.

I hope this helps!

Relaxation for Coping with Panic

Retraining the Amygdala

Anchoring

Biofeedback Therapy Relaxation

Deal with Squeamishness

Jul 11, 2018
New Zealand NEW
by: Anonymous

Love this post!!!

I can so relate to all of this! Thank you

Jul 27, 2018
Need compassionate docters NEW
by: Pete M

I'm a 50 year old man ,living with this problem for most my adult life. It started when I was about 21, I was out with friends drinking a bit too much the night before a physical for my job.I didn't sleep much but went to a early dr appointment. When the dr took my BP it was high as should of been expected scinse I didnt sleep and was drinking too much a few hours ago.Well that dr didn't believe anything I said and went on a speech about how this is terrible and I should be very concerned of not living long if I don't address this. I walked out of a job physical in a state a fear. That situation created my phobia of having my BP taken and terrible white coat syndrome. 30 years later I can't get a normal reading at a docters office. I recently went to a oral surgeon for a procedure and was to be given iv sedation, but when the nurse took my BP with a automatic machine my BP was ridiculously high. I was sent home cause they could not do anything while my BP was high. The Dr didn't listen to a word I was trying to tell him. When I got home and took my BP it was normal. God help us.Educated professionals on mental health are far and few

Aug 02, 2018
I'm struggling NEW
by: Anonymous

I, too, have been terrified of having my blood pressure taken since I was young. My readings are always scary high- even at home unless I repeat it over and over. Even seeing a blood pressure cuff triggers my anxiety. I refuse to have my blood pressure taken at the doctors office because I know it will just cause me to spiral the rest of the day. I work in a hospital and I am an RN; however, I can't stop this visceral reaction to having my BP taken. If anyone out there wants a buddy to talk about it with when you're struggling feel free to email me at tmooney1@kent.edu. I know how nice it is to have someone you can talk to that actually understands what you're going through and I could use the support as well.

Aug 14, 2018
Yup, Me too NEW
by: Andy

- I have no idea if this is a credible web page, but this discussion group of WC is certainly a good one. I occasionally google this topic after I have a docs appt where my WC really acts up, as happened today.
- I'm 49 and I've been dealing with this since my mid-30's. I have anxiety, though I'm doing quite well - I'm a CEO and I'm in very good shape - I competed in weightlifting for years and do lots of cardio.
- But, I think if u r prone to anxiety and this gets into your head - it is the ultimate negative feedback loop and it is next to impossible to get over. You are trying to stop your body's reaction to fear of death that is being quantified for you in real time.
- I frankly have given up trying. My docs for years have been very good about it. My readings at home are normal, and they've been accepting of that. I have had readings in the doc's office that set the alarm off on the BP machine, though usually when in the doc's office I'll get 140-150/80-100. I've actually had times when I've been knocked out for a procedure or surgery and am so relieved to see a normal BP reading on the monitor when I wake up. It's a really crappy thing to be so anxious about.
- My WC was set off by a horrible doc who told me he got a high reading from me (it was actually like only 135/85) and sent me for more and more tests. Kiss of death. At one point he put me on a halter monitor that made me so anxious I threw it across the room b4 bed time. He got the results and sent me for an echo of my heart because I had no "nocturnal dipping" in my BP. I told him that I took it off at night, so that made no sense, but he sent me anyway. U get the drift.
- Some tips for those having a hard time w this: (a) definitely tell whoever s taking the BP that it will be high due to anxiety - that helps, (b) take it at home but not frequently, (c) recognize HBP is normal when u r under stress, and if u think a HBP reading is indicative of ur impending doom, well then u r definitely going to be stressed. But people wired like us are just wired to think that way.
- I have become convinced that the whole argument that WC HBP can lead to real problems is bull. If someone puts a gun to your head, your blood pressure is going to be 200/100. For some people, having your BP taken creates almost the same amount of anxiety as having a gun to your head. That's normal fight or flight.

Aug 16, 2018
Longtime BP Phobic NEW
by: LenaR

Hello comrades,

I have read through most of the comments on this great site, and they have been a comfort to me. Had no idea blood pressure phobia was so common. I've been dealing with this issue for over 30 years and have just recently gained some ground, so I wanted to share my thoughts. Hypertension runs in my family and I have been on 25 mg per day of hydrochlorothiazide for many years. I take my bp at home (I avoided that for a long time as I was too afraid to take it) and my average reading is 108/68. I moved to the south four months ago and had to leave my doctor, who understood my phobia and accepted my home readings. I just went to a new doctor here who is not very sympathetic and who insists I bring my home wrist monitor in and compare it with the clinic's cuff. My reading at his office was 188/99. He said I was in the "stroke category"--naturally that panicked me more. Now I am worried that my bp monitor will have different results than theirs. Of course, readings in doctor offices are not always accurate. Sometimes, for instance, they use the wrong cuff size on you. In any event, I am trying not to get ahead of myself, trying to take life one moment at a time. I was put on Paxil for anxiety three years ago and that has really helped my overall anxiety level as well as curing my acid reflux. I strongly recommend Paxil. For those of you who fear taking your bp at home, I get that, but I encourage you to take a reading anyway, let it be whatever it will be and know you can handle it. If you check it a few minutes later, it will be lower because you faced your fear. I think the biggest problem for bp phobics is the lack of understanding in the medical community. An understanding doctor trained in phobias is a godsend. Please continue to share any thoughts you might have as they benefit us all.

Aug 16, 2018
Oh my BP NEW
by: Anonymous

After all my searches, this is the first time I've come across this post. I've always figured that I am not alone in this, but I am shocked at just how many people experience this.

For the past two years I've been dealing with with BP phobia. During my pregnancy with my son, the fear over my blood pressure increased as I would not be able to deliver with midwives if it didn't go down (140/90). I obsessed. I took it multiple times a day, multiple times each session. Some good readings, some not too good. The more anxious I was the higher it would be (naturally right?).

When I finally went in to labor, I was transferred to the hospital because it was high (of course). It ended up being a blessing in disguise (long story).

After the birth of my son, I was getting reasonable at home readings. One morning before a checkup it was 115/75ish. Perfect right? Well at the visit it was 150/90. The rest of the visit the doctor scared me so bad, completely disregarding what my BP was earlier that day. He started talking about medication, which I turned down, and told me he would hate to hear that I had a stroke! Really? Before I left, they took it again and it had gone down (140/82). However, that was it. I went into a severe depression/obsession after that for months. Obsessing about taking my BP. I worked with my PCP and tried a few BP meds one of which sent my pulse in to the 30s!! After that I was done with meds. It wasn't until I started working with a Naturopathic Doctor and stopped taking my BP so much that it finally started to come down. I made a point to only check it in the morning because that is when I felt most grounded. Good readings most of the time. I stopped taking it so much. Then as my annual physical was approaching, it started to creep up. I knew she would talk about my BP. The fear came back, and guess what? My BP started to spike again! :( It's been an incredibly difficult summer. The fear from the BP and my hormones have been all over the place from starting the breastfeeding weaning process with my son. I finally stopped obsessing about my BP again, even though it was 150/88 a few weeks ago at a new naturopaths office (reasonable readings at home). She is great though. She was more concerned about getting my anxiety under control. I take something called l-theanine before stressful situations now. It is supposed to keep your BP from spiking so high under stressful situations. I would do some research before taking it, but from what I understand its safe in most cases.

When I take my BP now, like before, I always do it in the morning when I am most grounded. I know if I do it before bed and get a high reading that it will keep me up. I am working with my naturopath to try and get my anxiety under control. Some things that have helped me: Magnesium, EPA fish oil, acupuncture, meditation, l-theanine, a mixture of herbs, eating well, exercise. I recommend working with a naturopath if you can. They really understand the big picture and really work to get to the root cause. Hopefully I can eventually get this under control and so can you! I feel like most of the time my BP is OK, so taking it and getting a high reading is unnecessary. Good luck to all.

Aug 24, 2018
Another one here..... NEW
by: Anonymous

I have had this problem only for a week and a half. I am a 64 year old male with a history of high BP but controlled. That was until a week and a half ago, all of a sudden! I don't see very many people mentioning what meds they take for their BP. I was taking Atenolol 50mg for 35 years plus! Once in the morning. Along with Hydrochlorithiazide (water pill) 25mg as well. Again for 35 years plus. A week and a half ago I wanted to check my Pulse only cause my heart was beating funny (palpitations) when I use my home BP monitor it also shows the pulse rate. The pulse was ok but the BP OH MY GOD!! Never seen it this high. The question would also come up well maybe you were on those meds for so long, maybe they don't work that good anymore?? Perhaps. When I checked it it was 190/102!! Then I waited a few minutes and checked it again, and again, and again, which I should Not have done! The 2nd reading was 200/100. Then you know the rest after you keep checking it over and over. Up Up and Away it was going!! Then I started getting bad panic attacks, heart racing, face very flush, shaking, etc. Then I ended up checking it Too often for the next few days! Again you know the rest. I went to Urgent Care and had it checked, was high. But after talking with the Nurse and Doctor for about 15 minutes, it went to Normal! So all the Panic went away for now, cause I was just talking to someone that time. I also went and bought a Oxymeter (like the doctors office has) for measuring pulse and Oxygen in the blood. This is helping now too. That Meter was only $18.00 for a reliable one. After Urgent care I was able to see my Own Doctor as well that evening. Same thing, High BP when I first got there, after Dr visit, was normal again!She put me on another water Pill Spironolactone (been used since the 60's she told me, lol) Cheap price too. So I have been taking that now 2x a day since this past Monday. Checked BP yesterday, still High. Called nurse there told me to see how it is by Monday...then I have to call them again if still high. Anyways when checking my BP yesterday after the High reading, checked it in 5 minutes again, this time I did the Breathing excersize, and the BP went down a little! Doing this exercise while I took the 2nd reading. So I have to keep doing this to calm down in general and when checking BP on a normal basis.One thing the Doctor pointed out to me about checking it at home.......she said, CHECK IT ONLY A FEW TIMES A WEEK!! Lol!! Anyone share the meds you take as well also can help others here? Good Luck to all of You, and Me!!

Sep 07, 2018
Bp phobia NEW
by: Jam

Same problem here Ive been struggling this since my 20s and now Im 31,Im from Cebu City.Its nice to hear that Im not alone.Sometimes I get good result but most of the time its really high because Im freaking out everytime I see or somebody took bp on me.I know just psychological,anxiety.Hope we could help each other and lets conquer this fear,

Sep 14, 2018
Glad to Know I'm not Alone NEW
by: David T

It's 4am and I can't sleep because I'm obsessing about my bp. I googled "Fear of Taking Blood Pressure" and found this site. I'm so relieved to know others - many others - have this problem too. I can feel my bp going down just reading all your comments and knowing someone else completely understands what I'm going through. I've had anxiety/panic disorder for decades, and have struggled with fears of flying, dying, speaking, closed places, high places, crowds, leaving the safety of home, etc., etc. I've basically overcome them all, to one degree or another, EXCEPT my fear of the cuff. I got my own bp machine years ago because I kept getting sky-high readings in doctors offices. The nurses would always freak out, which only made things worse. The doctors put me on bp meds because of family history of hypertension. I did fine taking my own readings at home - they were almost invariably normal. Then one time during an especially stressful period I checked my bp before going to bed. I knew it was a mistake to do so because I was too anxious. The reading was 170/110. I completely panicked. I couldn't sleep because I thought I should go to the ER, but I knew if I went my bp would skyrocket along with my anxiety level. It took me a long time to start taking my bp at home again, but I gradually got better and things seemed to be ok- until they weren't. I'm going through another stressful period and I've started obsessing over my bp again. I checked it tonight, hoping it would be ok.
Big mistake. As soon as the cuff tightened, the old feelings of dread and anxiety and despair came back. The reading was 168/108. No surprise, really. But I'm so depressed because this whole cycle is repeating itself. Fear of the cuff causes my bp to go up, which raises my fear and causes my bp to go even higher. I keep thinking my readings will eventually go off the scale. I can't function fully because I'm always obsessing about my bp. If I could get one normal reading I would feel so much better, but just looking at the cuff (or even just thinking about it) causes my heart rate to jump and my stomach to contract. Knowing this fear is irrational doesn't help. But knowing I'm not alone does. Thank you all for your comments and thank God for this site. I'll be visiting it often.






Sep 14, 2018
Fear of the Cuff NEW
by: David T

I've struggled for years with this problem, sometimes taking my blood pressure 25-30 times a day. I'd get a good reading and think things were fine, but an hour later I'd worry that the reading was wrong and I'd have to take it again. Going to the doctor only made things worse. The nurses would always freak out at my high readings, which, of course, only made things worse. Now I've developed a fear of my own machine. Just looking at it will make my heart rate rise and my stomach contract. I think if I can just get one good reading, I'll be ok, but I'm too anxious and can never get a good reading. I can't seem to find a medical practitioner who understands this problem, so I suffer with the fear that I'm a walking stroke or heart attack. I'm on three blood pressure meds and an antidepressant. When I'm not anxious or depressed about my bp, I get good readings, usually 110/70 - 130/80. But the anxiety shoots it up to 170/110 or more. When I'm in the throes of really bad panic, I fear that my bp will keep rising until it kills me. Going to the ER is completely out of the question - that would cause my anxiety and my bp to skyrocket. I don't know how to cope with this problem, but it helps to know I'm not alone. Thanks for this web site.

Sep 17, 2018
Be Positive NEW
by: FSP

I am terrified of taking my blood pressure. The negative thoughts go something like this: if it is high everything I am doing is not working. So I will have to go to the doctor who will suggest a million tests and these will reveal more problems. Help! My life will spiral out of control. But I know ONE thing. Monitoring my blood pressure is the only way to stay in control. So while I take a reading I tell myself I am doing the right thing...but I will only take a reading once a week. My doctor says obsessing makes you more anxious. The other strategy I am going to implement is to make the day before the reading my "give it everything I have got" day. So I will make sure I excercise, drink plenty of green tea and have all my herbal remedies plus a good night's sleep the day before. Next day I can expect that the reading will not alarm me. Also if i make it a habit to "give it my all" at least once a week I think my bp will improve in time. BP=Be Positive

Sep 18, 2018
Practical Tip NEW
by: FSP

I love this site and it is such a relief to discover how many people share the same feelings about taking their blood pressure.

I posted yesterday and I am posting again today because I really believe we can all help each other and I want to share whatever works for me.

BP can have physical causes but for the most part it has a lot to do with our ability to handle stress. I am working on re-training my brain and I recently got a good tip.

First, learn to observe your stress triggers such as when the doorbell rings or the phone rings or an annoying person walks in, or the BP machine starts to fill the cuff again. Such things trigger alarm bells because we expect bad news. The BP machine tells us what we fear the most, that the reading will be high.

So what we have to do is think of that trigger as our cue to relax. The moment the machine starts up again, tell yourself...ah, there it is, my cue to relax! Then use that moment to go to whatever is your happy place in your mind.

I hope this practical tip is useful for someone. I have just started to apply it and so far I have noticed it makes a difference between freaking out and actually feeling calmer. Good luck and good health everyone. Stay healthy and happy!!!

Oct 25, 2018
Same issue here... NEW
by: oawad

I have been dealing with this issue for a while now, I am relaxed and fine till I see a blood pressure machine I get nervous and my reading are high, the doctor told me to buy a device and do my own reading and I did, same problem at home standing or sitting or laying, keeps getting high reads. very frustrating issue.

Nov 04, 2018
Panic - I'm taking my blood pressure NEW
by: Ann

Hi. Well I have just read this blog and boy has it helped me. Why, well many of the comments is me to a tee and whilst it is a very serious topic I laughed and laughed and then my husband said to me "Come on I'll take your blood pressure" so he did and it was down to 143/79.
A few days ago I went to the Dr and he told me it was very high again and he asked me to monitor it at home so I have and the readings were round 175/98 etc so I stopped because of my anxiety and since then I've felt better. My thanks to you all. Try what I have just tried and see how you go. Remember I know what it's like to panic. If I go to have an operation my blood pressure goes to about 200.

Nov 04, 2018
Me Too! NEW
by: Pat

I just found this website. It has already helped me so much. I have had the same BP issue for many years - have had a nurse at my doctor's office embarrass me about it - found that I started getting nervous a whole month before the appt. worry about my BP reading in his office and found my pressure starting to rise every year a month ahead of the appt. Now I find out some dentists are taking BP and someone was even sent home and not serviced because their BP was high. I have a dentist appt. tomorrow and am scared to death that maybe my dentist is going to start taking BP. I feel stressed, scared, trapped and do not know of a way out of this. How bad will this get. After reading how many of you share the same thoughts and experience, I just wonder if there isn't someone who can tell our doctors to just "lay off" the BP when we tell them to. It helps to read about each of you, but, when the morning comes I still have to go to my dentist. Wish there was some help out there. HELP!!!

Nov 05, 2018
refusing bp NEW
by: Anonymous

I have the same phobia, and my pressures can get scary high at a doctor's office or in the ER, etc. I have a hypertension specialist, and a family doctor who work with me and "get it". So I tell almost all other doctors and even the dentist (who has now started taking bp) that I am refusing to have my pressure taken; that I am under the care of a hypertension specialist; that I regularly take pressures at home (and I bring a week's worth with me to show them); and that the reading they get in their office will not be accurate to what my normal pressure runs. So far, that has worked, though some doctor's offices give me more grief than others.

Nov 07, 2018
What has worked for me NEW
by: Anonymous

I'm so happy to find this thread. Over the past few months, I have had this problem. But it really started when the dentist started taking my BP a few years ago. I've always had low numbers and started to see it over 120. Well, this got into my head and one time my heart rate jumped during blood pressure (number not high though). they freaked out and told me to see my doctor. Well, the next time I went in (it's every 4 months for cleaning). I dreaded it days before. So I went to check my BP in drug store and for the first time the top number was 150. Needless to say, my BP was high and luckily had an understanding hygenist. I made the mistake of going to the doctor only to have a panic attack and have it jump even higher. She freaked out and took an EKG which was normal.

I left there knowing I needed to figure out if my BP is indeed high at rest. I bought a Qardio machine which is FDA approved and syncs with my phone. I was nervous and got a reading of 140/70. Ok, not bad. Then before bed, it was up to 150 and I couldn't sleep.

So I decided to change it to take 3 measurements over 3 minutes and not look at the numbers. I swear I did this for 2 weeks without looking at the numbers (just clicked the home bottom on my phone knowing the numbers were stored there). I started to feel pretty calm because I didn't look at the result. I feel that is the thing that causes the stress -- the pressure of the number. So when I finally looked at it I was nervous but found most of the time my numbers where below 120/70.

I still have to deal with my doctor and plan on changing (she won't accept home BPs and wants me to start a program where a nurse checks it). All my research shows me that the office blood pressure measurement is the least accurate. It's better to have a repeated measurement at the office and 24-hour monitoring is the gold standard fpr diagnosing hypertension. We need to start standing up to these medical professionals who need to understand this is real and get with the times. 30% of people have white coat -- and 10% have masked hypertension which is normal at the doctor but high at home. I plan to write more about this so stay tuned! Maybe it's not us, but them!

Nov 19, 2018
Me too! NEW
by: Anonymous

I am so happy I found this site! I have White Coat Syndrome, not only at the doctor's but whenever I look at "that" machine at home!

I've been on Atenolol for a year or more but after some stressful times early this year my BP was higher than normal so my doc sent me for an echocardiogram to check my heart.

This showed moderate valve leakage but the cardiologist thinks I could have been born with it and as I have absolutely no symptoms (73 yo female and healthy as a horse otherwise with good exercise capacity) no treatment is needed at the moment.

He's changed my medication to Perindopril which reduces BP and protects heart and kidneys. All well for the first few days, BP was coming down. But one day last week I got stressed and my BP shot through the roof (200/100) and I have been freaking out every since.

Every reading has been high and now I can't even look at the machine but the cardio wants me to take my BP EVERY day! I've never had panic attacks before now but I can't stop thinking about having to take my BP, heart racing, sweating, trembling, I'm sure many will know what I mean.

So I haven't taken it for a couple of days ... perhaps tomorrow after reading everyone's experiences!

Nov 29, 2018
New here! Just reading these blogs are helping... NEW
by: Barb-in TX

i think mine started about 10 years ago. tt may have been triggered by the death of a dear uncle who passed at 50 yrs young of a heart attack. Ever since, I have been on a roller coaster ride with major anxieties. I can look at the bp monitor and my hands get sweaty. my heart beat so hard i swear the nurse can see my chest raising. Last time i tried deep breathing and squeezing a squishy ball...i think my hands got stronger but it didn't help the bp readings. I have bp machines at home that are hidden away. I too have cancelled several dr appt..even ones that don't require a bp test. i get anxious about an upcoming dr appt months before...i have tried deep breathing, trigger point, eft tapping...all nada. but just writing this is helping, so the journey goes on<>

Nov 29, 2018
So many of us NEW
by: Renee

As others have said, I thought for a long time that I was pretty alone is this irrational fear. There's some comfort in knowing that's not true.

I didn't go to the doctor for almost 5 years because of my fear of taking my BP. I did go to the dentist, and he never took BP readings UNTIL I had to have a tooth extracted. Of course, it was sky high (in the dentist chair about to have a tooth yanked out! Hello!!) Surprisingly, he went ahead and did the extraction (which another doctor couldn't believe).

I had had a cuff monitor at home, sitting in a closet for many years. I would 'try' it and as soon as it double inflated, I pulled it off.
So I went to my primary doctor (after almost 5 years, she had to be talked into taking me back). BP was high, of course, and I was put on meds.

Well, to make a long story short, I finally was able to take BP at home - just kept doing it even if the first try it reinflated (now, THAT's scary, isn't it?). I took it over and over and it kept coming down as I relaxed. I found a very short video on YouTube that actually helped me a lot. 5 tips for overcoming phobias. The two that resonated with me were - face your fear (that's why I kept taking it again and again) and what's the worst that could happen? (You have to take BP meds.)

I got more and more relaxed taking my BP at home. I was on meds (and a diuretic) and started getting really low readings - like 105/48. So I stopped the meds, keeping the diuretic, but still they were very low. So I stopped meds and my readings are still great.

Bottom line, I do not have a BP problem, I have an anxiety disorder. No one in my family, no one, has/had high BP. Had a doctor appt yesterday, took my sheet of readings for the past month showing when I stopped meds and the really low readings. When the assistant pulled out the BP cuff, I said, no, we're not doing that today. She just said OK and put it back. THen the doctor came in and we talked about my readings and she said let's take a reading. And I said - well, I AM still in a doctor's office (smiling). Lo and behold it was 122 over something (can't remember as I was so blown away by the 122 number).

FYI, here's the short YouTube video that really helped me:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDjwfFmXwfE


Nov 29, 2018
24 hour ambulatory in a few days NEW
by: Deb

I am having a 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure done this coming Monday/Tuesday. The phobia I go through at a doctors office getting my bp done, happens also when I do the 24 hour testing. Every 20 minutes that cuff inflates and I hear/feel it and I can feel my pressure rising. So now it feels like I can't even get a "true" reading with the 24 testing. I know the doctors consider that test the gold standard for those of us with "white coat" issues. HELP! Does anyone else go through this with the 24 hour test? Have you found anything to help?

Nov 30, 2018
test NEW
by: Anonymous

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Dec 04, 2018
test NEW
by: Anonymous

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Dec 17, 2018
Me too! NEW
by: Niko

Hi, I'm from the Philippines and it's inspiring to read all the comments that I am not alone. It started 9 years ago up to now. Just thinking of the having your bp taken makes me stressed and my blood pressure keeps rising. My doctor prescribed me losartan and I'm hoping it can work. Also thinking to see a psychiatrist, maybe they can help. We can do this guys!

Dec 30, 2018
Not Alone
by: Anonymous

I see this post was 5 yrs old but I'm guessing its fairly current, regardless. I suffer from the EXACT same problem that you have described and it is very frustrating. It started out only occurring at the Drs office but has graduated to ANY time I want to test my BP. It's like severe test anxiety no matter who is taking the reading, including myself, at home. I'm positive that it is anxiety induced HBP as as soon as I even THINK about taking it I start to get that anxious, panicky feeling, worrying that it will be high and not what I expect. So, of course, it is high, and then the high reading causes further anxiety and even panic attacks. It makes it impossible to regulate my pressure and BP meds. Fortunately my doctor understands the problem however is as at a loss for a solution as I am. Keeping my BP normal is priority as I have a coiled cerebral aneurysm and the ONE directive by my neurologist 12 yrs ago was to keep my BP down. Therefore, regulating the meds and getting at least fairly accurate readings is really important. Although I'm glad to read that I am not an unusual case, I was hoping maybe someone might have some tips besides "just relax". I have anxiety disorder and am on clonazepam (an antianxiety drug) in order to avoid or treat anxiety/panic attacks that raise my pressure and cause unwanted stress to my coiled aneurysm but I don't want to have to rely heavily on them and especially not to just take my BP. I got my last normal reading of 117/72 by taking a clonazepam and sitting on the couch for an hour or so - then taking it without getting up. So I know that my relaxed BP is OK. (Clonazepam isn't a BP med so it wasn't the pill that lowered my pressure. It was the pill relaxing the anxiety). KNowing all of this doesn't help the problem, unfortunately.

Jan 02, 2019
to Deb NEW
by: Andy

I looked at this page again because I got really anxious about my BP reading at the doc office today and low and behold, 160/100. Ugh. Anyway, I saw Deb's note about the ambulatory monitor and I had the same issue. I would get horribly anxious every time the cuff filled, all friggin day. Finally when I was in bed and trying to sleep, I took the device off and threw it across the room. I knew it wasn't going to be accurate because of my anxious reaction. So my doc (a lousy doc at the time) sent me to get an echo cardio because he was concerned about the readings and of course, everything was normal.

Jan 06, 2019
Phew! I’m not the only one!
by: AJ

I am so glad to have found this blog and all of the comments have been so helpful for me. After feeling like a freak for so long, I have accepted that this is a legitimate phobia no matter how silly it may seem. I have a doctors appt coming up and I am terrified. I have been taking my BP at home the past few days and at first the readings were so high which sent me into a panic for the whole day. I told myself I am going to gain control of this fear and took readings repeatedly. Even just sat and watched a 30 min TV show with the cuff on the whole time and took a few readings after. They were low! This helped give me a little more confidence. It is a work in progress but trying to desensitize yourself to the machine itself, the sounds it makes, and feeling of the cuff tightening will work if you just keep doing it. I also found that breathing in and out fairly rapidly (as someone else suggested) while the cuff is inflating brought my number down even lower.
As an anxiety/panic sufferer for many years I have a theory that people with this type of disorder are extremely sensitive to even the slightest change in how our bodies are feeling which is why even looking or thinking about the machine can provoke a full blown panic attack and it can be impossible for us to relax fully after this.
I wish everyone success in conquering this phobia and so happy I am not alone!



Jan 09, 2019
Same here NEW
by: Manzo

I am glad we are not alone. I am 42 and have had this issue for the last 4 years. It began with a panic attack and the nurse at the hospital took my BP which was high; it definitely doesn't help that nurses/doctors freak out when they see a high number instead of trying to calm you down; mine is due to anxiety and the anxiety has turned it into a phobia. The result is countless doctor visits, countless home BP measurements with a low average but with random spikes (due to stress and anxiety of having a high reading), 4 cardiologist visits, 3 echo, 4 ekg's, 1 stress test, hormonal tests, etc, etc with the doctors repeating on and on that it is simply anxiety and there is no hypertension anywhere and no structural damage to the heart. Finally, my last cardiologist, a very good one, told me it's time to get rid of my blood pressure machine and not measure it unless there is a real need for it and more importantly not before I have managed to deal with the anxiety. There is no reason why I should drive myself insane and cause these blood pressure spikes unnecessarily. He told me to donate my blood pressure machines (Btw I used to have three different machines because I started to doubt readings)...so I did - I got rid of all of them just last month and I actually went through a withdrawal of not measuring it, which actually told me it had become an obsession and a malignant vicious cycle. So now I am trying to work on CBT to get rid of this phobia and overall OCD behavior and trying to exercise, do cardio as much as I can to reduce the anxiety. To those who have the same issue, get rid of your machines and don't measure your BP unless you truly have hypertension as in your BP never goes to normal levels and averages in the high range. I have wasted 4 years of my life doing it and I am trying to regain control of it and not depend on a stupid machine. Cheers.

Jan 09, 2019
BP NEW
by: Anonymous

I just left a new dentist a few hours ago because they insisted on taking my BP. I am going back to my old dentist, who charges more because of insurance issues, but does not force me to take BP. My family doc is OK with my wife (RN) taking my BP at home and accepts those results. The only good part I see is I have been so adamant about not visiting an ER or Urgent Care that my body seems to respond to that will and I am rarely sick. I am 59 and this has been going on for decades. Swimming helps overall anxiety and sometimes meditation. I do have obsessive tendencies which I believe feeds this with of course anxiety. From what I understand exposure therapy is the only thing that works. But that may only work at home, in a medical setting it may not. To top it off I work in a hospital. Over the years there has been no improvement at all. So truly I have no idea what my "real" BP is.

Jan 23, 2019
Fear of checking BP NEW
by: Anonymous

Glad to know that I am not alone. I get so scared when I check my BP even at home and my pulse rate also rises rapidly.This results in a high systolic figure. However, once when I took a 2nd reading after listening to a relaxation tape about 1/2 an hour later, my systolic bp had come down by 6 points.

Jan 26, 2019
Glad to have found this site! NEW
by: Anonymous

So glad to find a forum where other folks understand. My phobia started during my pregnancy where I had an episode of hypertensive crisis. Since that time over four years ago I cannot get a normal reading at the DR office even though my blood pressure is controlled at home on medication. I consequently avoid going to the DR or constantly cancel appointments. Case in point I had my annual physical this past week. Reading before leaving the house was 115/73. Reading at doctors office was 160/100 and when she insisted on taking it again it shot up to 185/124. In my case the phobia is linked back to PTSD from my pregnancy and being so scared of what was going to happen to me and my then unborn child when I experienced the hypertensive emergency. But four years after the fact my body has this conditioned response that it refuses to let go. I've tried talk therapy and anti anxiety meds to no avail. My next plan is for hypnosis and I will keep you posted on how that goes. If anyone wants to keep in touch I'm at denden3368@msn.com

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