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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

May 07, 2019
Same NEW
by: Anonymous

The very same for me too. I found a lot of relief reading the first page of comments from 2015. I found strength in those stories that were so similar to mine. Then I realized there were 11 more pages all the way up to now!

May 15, 2019
HBP
by: Anonymous

I am from the UK and just came across this site. Have read all,the comments from years back to this year and I honestly think I could have written most of them. They are all so real to me.
I have always suffered with HBP after being told at a routine check in my twenties that I had raised BP and would suffer in pregnancy and when I am older. I am now 56 and just nursed my Mum through dementia and a stroke and then another one that finally was too much and she passed away Feb 2019.
I haven’t thought about my BP as was too busy looking after Mum but now I have a bit more time I checked it and it was 180/100 then got higher. Been to dr and they increased meds but I know it’s elevated cos of WCoat. Actually feel it rising when thinking about it. I can be at work and have a stressful day but know my BP would be ok if It could be read without me knowing.
It’s just having it taken is more stressful than anything else I do. And I do a lot worse at work. Real emotional stuff as work at a vets and always calm and professional in all sorts of situations.
Just need to get head around this.
I also feel pulse in my ears when anxious about it. Telling me to calm down has no effect and makes me worse. And they look at you and say Relax. I am going to buy a wrist cuff as think that will be better. If I was told it was perfect and not worry until next check up I would skip all the way home and not worry and get on with my life instead of constantly thinking about it.
Thanks for listening and to all the other sufferers like me. I wish you well.

May 26, 2019
Same as all of you NEW
by: Francois

Dear all,

I was very glad to read that I am not the only one. Since i was young my doc told me I had HBP. We did an exam and a 24h check and nothing came back. My doc got me on anti depression meds.
But everytime I changed jobs and country over the last 6 years I had HBP, " years ago when I was ok I had a 130/80 ! But then I get 180/11 or something.
I started meds12 days ago and got 200-12 then 180/11 and 145/95 but yesterday I started stressing out about it, thinking it will creep back up, that the meds don t work etc.... And today 165-107, then 180-11 when repeated of course.
It is very frustrating to see yourself go stressed, my heartbeat goes from 80 to 120 when I think of taking it !
Then you think of course that you are very sick, or that the drugs don t work and it is a vicious circle.
Before I had to do all these exams (for buying a house) I was ok, but that set me up in an anxiety mood and it now feeds itself.

My doc even told me we have all the time we need to get it back down but I would like to have it down now and not to stress about it anymore !!!!

When the house will be mine, the move done and I can settle I will start a therapy. They MUST be a way to deal with it.

I think we can all live with HBP for as long as life will have us. But the fear of the fear is to be dealt with.

All the best to all of us,

Francois

Jun 09, 2019
If they only knew NEW
by: Judy

Allopathic medicine is not my way of life, but the few times I was stupid enough to go to an urgent care center, I was scared to death. I have tried to explain that taking my pressure was not a good thing, but was totally disregarded! I don't like to have to defend myself to some doctor or nurse as to why I have this condition. I am under STRESS! They just ignore this. This is how my body responds! It's just how I am. I do not like to be judged as incompetent in making my own observances and opinions!

Last Friday, I had a tooth extracted. Do you think one might be anxious? His nurse looked at me with great concern, but I know my body and how it responds. They take away your self confidence and raise your self doubt. The response is usually condescending, although this dentist was quite accepting of me and I am grateful for this experience.

And, yes, i have been like this for over 30 years!

There is a chiropractor on YouTube that is AWESOME! He has a 5 part series on BP and a few other single videos. His name is John Bergman. I think you'll love him. He cuts a person some slack and gets down to body functions and types of stress. He is GREAT!

Like most of you, I can't even look at a BP cuff without getting a racing heart. I also can't take a reading at home. I get all nervous each time the cuff inflates!

I don't have an answer to this, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that stress and anxiety cause high BP no matter what some of the MD's (medical deities) say.

I feel that much of the reason lies in the fact that we feel threatened when we express ourselves and are challenged by those "who are experts". Please allow me my opinions and respect my beliefs. Stop pushing my bounaries!

Thanks for hearing me. I found this site at just the right time.

Bless you ALL as I know your dilemma!

Jun 20, 2019
BP phobia NEW
by: MJ Cummings

I have BP phobia. One night, I drank enough beer to dull the fear, then took my blood pressure. It was high at first. But as I continued to sip beer, my BP fell. Eventually, I got normal readings. I went from 190 over 90 to 125 over 64.

Jun 25, 2019
Nice to meet everyone.
by: Gary

Glad I found this place. I am 60 yrs old. I went in for my first prostrate test up the ying yang at 52. Saw the glove and tube of jelly lying on the examination table. Well the nurse came in and took my reading....210/114....lol.. Doctor came in and same thing. Now I never thought I had HBP in the past. She right away slapped me on drugs. I bought a home monitor and started it at home. My first reading would be super high (200+ / 100 +) then over the course of 30 or so minutes and about 10 more readings I would get it down to the 120s / 80s. She didnt believe me. Last year I switched the meds up because of side effects. We are still trying to tweak them.. I am down into the 140's / 80's.. But she isnt happy.. Its like a game to her. She always says... Gary we can get lower...Its becoming very draining and time consuming. But they have you held captive. They dont give out scripts without you bringing in readings.. I hate it.. Been doing this for 8 years.

Jun 26, 2019
Panic and anxiety
by: Carol

I have the same problem in fact I had to have my blood pressure taken at my gp’s today and I got into a terrible state. It has got that bad now I don’t want to visit my go anymore. I constantly worry about this problem which I know makes it worse but I don’t know how to stop it. I feel pathetic and feel I have no control over this whatsoever. I would be grateful for any advice..

Jul 01, 2019
relieved NEW
by: Anonymous BP

Hi, I am sooo relieved to find this page! I have been freaking out about high BP readings. Glad to know I am not alone. Thanks for the tips. I also suffer from bad anxiety and now seems to be BP anxiety. Hoping and praying we can all get some success over this annoying and stressful condition. I am currently trying a bit of éxposure therapy'with myself by just keeping on taking my BP over and over until I don't even think about it. Happy to hear any other tips. :)

Jul 02, 2019
High Heart Rate NEW
by: Anonymous

Hello Everyone,

What a sigh of relief to know that I am not alone. This phobia has crippled me for the past 10 years. I hate going to to doctor and completely avoid it unless I absolutely have to. I used to have elevated blood pressure when I went to the doctor, however now I suffer more from elevated heart rate when I go to the doctor. My blood pressure is more often than not normal-ish, however my heart rate is always through the roof! When I leave the doctors office, it always goes back down to a normal rate. I explain this to my doctors, but they just don't seem to get it. I wish doctors were more empathetic to these kinds of issues. My doctor is referring me to a cardiologist. I have avoided going for the past several months, but I made my appointment and I am going in a couple of weeks. I feel like the best way to get over this phobia is using exposure therapy. Forcing yourself to take your BP and pulse so many times until it starts to be less and less fearful over time. However, when you only go to the doctor 2-3 times a year at most it seems impossible to practice this therapy. I wish doctors prioritized mental health as much as physical health...

Aug 14, 2019
Thank god for this thread! NEW
by: Anonymous

Hey all,

WOW. I’m not alone!?

31 year old female here and I’m pretty tiny. First "diagnosis" of hypertension was 10 years ago when I had a doc appointment a few hours after a pretty traumatic experience (family cat passing away in front of you is... yeah). I was 21. From then on, I started to have elevated readings here and there... even in college my doc had me on diltiazem, took me off my birth control pill and has me doing home readings. This would not bode well for the future of this specific anxiety!

Fast forward to 2015, fiancé deploys to Afghanistan and things just hit the fan... panic attacks put me in the er and as expected, the Bp (I don’t even like to type bp, let alone say it or think it) gets me sent to a cardiologist who does a full workup (stress test at 25!?) and finds I have a pfo (congenital defect NO ONE would’ve otherwise found). So, that’s great. Also important to mention, my fiancé-turned-husband is a doctor... who told me to NOT listen to any of this nonsense from the civilian cardiologist (before we were married). I should mention as well during this time I had extensive workups for renal artery stenosis, etc.

Several primary care docs later once married, I get sent to nephrology. Did the 24-hour pee test for aldosterone levels, which did come back high. But meantime, they sent me home with that devil ambulatory monitor. That thing made me so anxious having it on I SET MY TOASTER OVEN ON FIRE. Aldosterone levels were high, so they took me off my birth control and later made me do TWO saline suppression tests (google it). INCONCLUSIVE. This was 2017.

Move to a new base last year, immediately doc wants to change my birth control to a non-estrogen method... okay, fine. But every reading since has been through the roof and it always will be, even at home... I’m terrified! The techs joke like why would you have white coat, you’re married to a doctor! You idiots... it is SO MUCH deeper than that... the sound of the cuff, the words, the thought... I will never really know what my bp (cringe) is.

Last week I had an appointment for my routine adderall refill, and my numbers were deathly high. Don’t you love it when techs are like OH MY GOD and then chitter chatter in the hallway!? Now, I understand and I wouldn’t want anyone’s license at risk. But when you tell me we need to be testing my organs for end stage failure... and you won’t fill my script (reasonable!)... it is hard for me to not be terrified for my appointment this week and as you can imagine, my home readings have been a littleeeee high. I can take Ativan before my appointment (which I didn’t last time), but there’s no reasoning with my blood pressure. It has a mind of its own.

I hate this. My husband says I don’t have high blood pressure (thank you, Nostradamus). But I’ll never really know. Thanks to everyone for this thread. Maybe you’ll help me a couple points... wishful thinking.

Aug 19, 2019
I am all of you NEW
by: Anonymous

I've been on and off reading this thread for a few months after stumbling upon it white Googling "white coat" and man, has it made me feel sooooo not alone! I've suffered from this since I was 13 years old.... 13!! I'm about to be 35 now. Over 20 years being scared of this dumb machine. I was overweight as a child and remember being taken out of class freshman year of high school to get my blood pressure, height and weight checked. As an overweight teen, this freaked me out. My blood pressure was high and the nurse then called my parents. I was taken to the doctor where I remember the doctor trying to sell my mom on sending me to a fat camp and putting me on a diet. It scarred me for life. Literally since that day, I don't remember a time my blood pressure has ever been deemed "good" in a medical setting. I avoided doctors for years. I took it upon myself to lose upwards of 90 pounds in my early 20s, so I deemed myself pretty healthy. It wasn't until I experienced what ended up being my first panic attack in my mid-20s that I found myself having to visit a doctor/cardiologist. I was put on blood pressure medication which made me almost faint in the shower. I did all the usual heart tests, EKG, echo, bloodwork -- she even sent me for a renal doppler to check my kidney for damage from high blood pressure. Everything was normal. My phobia over this stupid machine has put me through a lot of unnecessary anxiety that I just can't seem to get over. As I've neared my 30s, my issues with anxiety/health anxiety have gotten worse. I've been on 3 different medications now to try and level myself out. I'm in a pretty decent space mentally as of lately, better than I've been, but my fear of the cuff is still there. I've come to terms with visiting the doctor for my yearly appointments and whatnot but still have the same issues each and every time I go. It's just a pain to ever have to go see someone new and explain myself. I bought my own blood pressure monitor and I know to check it the 1-2 weeks leading up to my appointments. But even I'm at the point now where my first reading is high and it takes some deep breathing and a second try to get it lower. I don't know what it is. Everyone always asks why I get so worked up over it and the truth is, if I knew why, I would try to fix it. But I. don't. know. why. As soon as I hear that velcro sound of the cuff opening, it feels like I want to jump out of my own skin. I can't breathe properly, I feel my adrenaline pumping and I just know it's going to be high. I've taken a lot of tips from these threads - including the hyperventilation technique (mostly works for me when I try it at home) and also trying a beet root supplement (just ordered one). Somehow we can fight this!

Sep 01, 2019
Thank you NEW
by: Anonymous

My BP has me so handcuffed . I can't enjoy life. I love being emotional but taking my BP makes my so blahs. I cant have no emotions because Dr feels I'm to stressed. I keep telling them I feel great but they make me feel so sad. All I hear your going to have a stroke if you dont calm down. Do you want to see your kids grow up? This and many other comments have left my anxious and scared within myself. I workout like a mad man but that machine gets my body hot. Thank you for these post

Oct 10, 2019
Bp phobia NEW
by: Sherrie

I have the same problem. At one point I over came the phobia until I had a bad experience at the hospital with my blood pressure and the anxiety came back. Im currently suffering from postpartum Hypertension and taking my blood pressure sends me over the edge. I can never get a good reading because of my anxiety. Im constantly worried about my blood pressure because i always feel stressed. Currently looking for help...Thinking about trying meds for my anxiety.

Oct 12, 2019
fast HR
by: kb801

To those who have fast heart rates, get a beta blocker and if you are concerned just use it for dr visits - Mine used to be high (120+) but on atenolol only goes up to high 70's even under great stress from the dumb BP machine at dr's - at least it will take care of part of the problem

Oct 12, 2019
Tips to calmdown NEW
by: MG

Hi,
I have the same problem. When I get the thought of taking blood pressure my heart beats fast and I get very anxious. My reading went goes 130/90 , 140/95 170/110 185/112 and so on.
What I did is I bought a BP monitor machine at home.
For relaxation I did some meditation from youtube. Breathe in exercises. Did some painting job in my garage until my mind was calm down. After 1 hr I check.It started coming down 140/90 120/80 etc. All you have to is make sure you dont get panic or anxious while taking. Try for 4-6 times. Good luck.
Thanks,

Oct 30, 2019
Having a phobia taking bp NEW
by: Bhedz dee

I have the same problem and it starts 8 years ago.
Reading a comments helps me a lot. I thought I'm just the only one having this kind of problem. I used to have a medical yesterday and this problem occurred..

Nov 04, 2019
Well, seems I have the same problem NEW
by: Lawrence

I'm in the UK and have just found this site. I had lived in France for 15 years before moving back to the UK in September where 4 years ago I was diagnosed with T2 Diabetes which was a shock as I had no symptoms at al and this resulted in 3 monthly HbA1C blood checks and blood pressure checks which were always normal. Well the T2 is under control and stable but my GP here in the UK said I should attend the surgeries Diabetic Clinic which I did and when my blood pressure was tested it was very high (it was completely normal 8 weeks before on my last check in France). Was told to come back in 2 days and check again which I did but it was even higher so was put on BP pills and told to buy a monitor and keep a diary of the twice a day tests. Spool forward to today and I've written a letter to the doctor saying that I won't be doing any more testing at home as it's too stressful and panic sets in just looking at the BP monitor (rapid heartbeat, thumping in my chest, shaking and ringing in the ears) so it's impossible to get a sensible reading even when testing several times over 30 mins, it either goes up or stays the same but with increased pulse rate. I suppose the problem is that I can never get a sensible reading to see if the pills are actually working or not either at the surgery or at home. I tried the deep breathing and relaxation thing but it just doesn't work for me as it doesn't seem to make any difference.

Nov 14, 2019
in the club NEW
by: Anonymous

I have checked this blog off and on over the past few years, keep hoping someone comes up with a "solution" to our problem. My story is very similar, good BP at home, but over the years it has gotten worse with dr. visits. Began with a PCP that freaked over a slightly high BP, and started sending me to a cardiologist. Have a different PCP now, and I'm fortunate that both he and my cardiologist accept my at home readings, but it STILL continues to escalate in a medical setting. I've tried 2 hypnotists, but both of them were more interested in giving me self help books, then really addressing my problem. I am convinced the right kind of hypnotist (the kinds that can make you squawk like a chicken) has possibilities. The only other possible solution I can come up with is some sort of immersion therapy, wish there was a non-judgemental medical setting I could stop in every day to have my pressure taken. Thanks for listening, and am so glad to know I am not alone!

Dec 03, 2019
Pregnant and Fear of Blood Pressure NEW
by: Anonymous

So, I've had the fear of getting my blood pressure taken since I was in the 6th grade. I remember hyperventilating on the pediatrician's table. Now years later, it's the much more important for me to have good pressure readings because I am now pregnant. The doctors don't help. My blood pressure is high because they are putting so much pressure on me to have non-preclampsia blood pressure. The more I want it, the higher it goes as I don't want to have to deliver early because of something that is only in my mind. It's starting to really cause anxiety in my life surrounding the pregnancy. I was told I can take my pressure at home and they are now okay with that. But I've found myself freaking out at home too. I'm trying hypnosis later this week. I'd love some advice.

Dec 03, 2019
same here NEW
by: mike

Same here. I can't take it at home, either. The first time it happened my doctor wanted to start me on meds that moment, but I declined. I tested mild high. But I seem to sense that my BP might actually be low and that taking meds might do serious harm. So I just don't sweat it. My new doctor doesn't give me the test. I'm almost 78 an have never had any physical indications of high BP damage, in fact just the opposite.So beware of meds and the mostly phony BP test.

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