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 29, 2020
Bp frustration NEW
by: Anonymous

I wish I would have come across a this website years ago. I finally feel like I am not the only one suffering with this affliction. I have battled bp anxiety for 25 years. I am 44 now and need to be under 155/95 for my job. I can easily clear that at home but shoot 170/90 sometimes in the office. I have tried to donate blood numerous times and after high pulse and bp numbers 170/105 the nurse looks horrified and starts to say something to the other nurse and then inform me that they will not be able to accept my blood with those numbers. I hang my head and walk out as my pulse and bp are nice and low by the time I get home. I hate two say it but I have quite a collection of BP monitors at home. I never seem to trust them when they read really low or really high. However I have settled on a wrist cuff which I love because of its speed. I just sit in the same location every time. When I get stressed and it is really high even at home I lie in bed all night imagining what kind of damage I am doing to my organs. I just think of all the literature always calling it silent killer etc just naturally puts a phobia in you. I also love how on the cuffs it says if you are above 190 seek medical care immediately. That of course doesn't help ones anxiety. So now I get really low readings at home when not stress so I just mentally block out the high readings knowing they are stress related. Sometimes relaxation techniques increase my heart rate and make me more anxious if I am trying to do it before an office visit. Thank you everyone who has posted.

Jun 07, 2020
Thank you NEW
by: Stuart

I can't tell all of you that have posted here, that it is so nice to hear I'm not alone. I genuinely don't think I have high blood pressure, or at least not as high as when I go to to the doctor, but it is so nice to feel not alone! Thank you, all of you!

Jun 19, 2020
It's ALL in the Head NEW
by: Mark

I have been diagnosed with Anxiety disorder since October 2004, I remember the day I had my first panic attack, I thought I was having a heart attack and I rushed to ER, only to be told that it was a Panic Attack, at which time obviously my blood pressure was soaring. Follow up visits with my Dr always returned HIGH BP results, so of course they put me on blood pressure meds.

I then decided to buy my own blood pressure monitor, it was a digital one but it was a manual pump. I was obsessed with my blood pressure from that point and constantly took it at home, at first my readings were perfectly within the normal range, but then as I obsessed more my numbers seemed to rise and i became more anxious which raised my blood pressure readings more.

I eventually bought a digital automatic blood pressure monitor, again at first I was getting decent readings, a lil on the higher side but nothing too bad. Until...one day I got a higher than usual reading, I guess i was a little more stressed that day, but since then I have had a real phobia of even taking my BP at home but of course even worse at the Dr's office....blood pressure readings would soar including the bottom number into the triple digits, at which point they up my meds.

Taking blood pressure at home with the automatic cuff now makes me real anxious, just listening to that lil motor inside making the noise as it fills the cuff with air, i close my eyes but i always end up looking at the number its going up to....when I see it creeping up to 190-200+ before its even taken my blood pressure I KNOW my reading is going to be high, so of course my head tells me it will be high, so guess what IT IS HIGH. My heart races to well over 100 bpm, like 120-130bpm and I have just told myself that my blood pressure is high so the body responded. Ughhh, it is irritating and down right scary.

This was until yesterday (6/18/20) when I for the last 2 days attempted to take my BP and either stopped the BP monitor before it filled with air, or just sat there for ages with the cuff on deciding when to push that button, trying to calm myself down...but the time doesn't come when I feel ready...every time I go to push the button my heart starts racing....so yesterday, I told myself ENOUGH is ENOUGH...this is ridiculous, I am not going to be ruled by anxiety for the rest of my life so I googles and found this forum and was actually relieved to find other people have this same problem...I felt a bit better, so what I did is played some Tibeten Chakra Singing Bowl music in the background, grabbed my MANUAL blood pressure monitor (The automatic one makes that noise that makes you more anxious) and just thought SOD IT...im going to take it, yes my heart started racing a bit but not as bad as it would have been with the automatic cuff, but my reading (while anxious) was 157/90...I instantly calmed down and told myself, that isnt bad at all considering how anxious you are right now...so I became more confident and just took it several more times afterwards, boom.....I got down to a nice 122/79 with a 73 pulse....perfect in my eyes. I am 44 so thats pretty good for my age. I am here today and I am going to take my blood pressure again in a few mins....i feel confident and not anxious like yesterday, I am no longer going to be ruled by this Anxiety. I discovered IT IS ALL IN THE HEAD. Try it....invest in a Manual cuff instead of an automatic one if you dont have one, it eliminates that darn scary noise as its pumping which is part of the anxiety build up, then just tell yourself ok this first reading is going to be high, I know this...but after that I will calm myself down with a few more readings, you will eventually talk down your blood pressure and tell yourself you have nothing to worry about.

Jun 24, 2020
I've found my people
by: Anonymous

9 years ago, I had my twins through an emergency c-section. High blood pressure was the culprit. After a few days and with medication, it went way down and I've been off of them until two days ago. I had my blood pressure taken and I quickly remembered all those high readings. When my mind registered the machine's noise, it went up. I can feel it when it's up. I had all tests done and everything came back great. I'm currently monitoring my bp and like three hours ago it was 112/82 without medication. Now, its 140/99. It's insane. I don't get it.

Jun 26, 2020
Been trying to work through this fear
by: Lindsey

I’ve been reading through these comments, and they all describe me to a T! I’ve developed a phobia of going to any doctor and of having BP taken due to a terrible experience at my oral surgeon’s office in 2018. Been working w/ a therapist over the phone for the past few weeks to build up my courage to take my BP myself or have my mom take it w/ 1 of those wrist monitors but can’t even bring myself to do that! Earlier this month I’d asked her to take it while I took a nap and it was normal, 130/95, pulse 51. The other night I sat in my rocking chair listening to music which always relaxes me and planned to take my BP without looking at the number, couldn’t do it, later asked my mom to press the on button while she walked past me but I didn’t even have the courage to let her take it! The only time I’m okay with having it taken is if I’m completely unaware of it, which obviously would be while I’m asleep. I want more than anything to conquer this fear but it’s SO difficult!

Jul 05, 2020
Just had to chime in! NEW
by: Jackie

Omg! Thank heavens I came across this forum! Last September after I was supposed to have my fractured wrist reset (but didn't because it was too late), I was in the orthopedic surgeon's office getting my blood pressure taken. The look and reaction of the nurse when she read my reading of 220-225/120 scared the daylights out of me. Fortunately, it was my sister, whom I called in from the waiting room to share the numbers with,that told me to calm my ... down that helped to bring it down. She didn't seem worried and told me I wasn't going to die. I have since been taking my own readings at home after having been put on medication. My bp usually stays in the 134/70-80 range. Until after my best friend passed away (him being my rock who helped me take it on my own), it shot up again. While getting cranked up talking on the phone to a friend, my bp went up to 183/105. I freaked. I have been afraid to take it since:(

Jul 05, 2020
Just had to chime in! NEW
by: Jackie

Omg! Thank heavens I came across this forum! Last September after I was supposed to have my fractured wrist reset (but didn't because it was too late), I was in the orthopedic surgeon's office getting my blood pressure taken. The look and reaction of the nurse when she read my reading of 220-225/120 scared the daylights out of me. Fortunately, it was my sister, whom I called in from the waiting room to share the numbers with,that told me to calm my ... down that helped to bring it down. She didn't seem worried and told me I wasn't going to die. I have since been taking my own readings at home after having been put on medication. My bp usually stays in the 134/70-80 range. Until after my best friend passed away (him being my rock who helped me take it on my own), it shot up again. While getting cranked up talking on the phone to a friend, my bp went up to 183/105. I freaked. I have been afraid to take it since:(

Jul 10, 2020
BP READINGS NEW
by: RS

Focusing on Panic attack symptoms developed into unnecessary fast heart rate even during times of excitement and times when one would normally be a little nervous.

Still to this day my heart races when taking BP at Dr and reading high.

Yesterday at Dr 1st reading was 147/100 pulse 109.
Waited two minutes took again, 134/81 with 70 pulse. F ing wish I could overcome this.

Jul 10, 2020
BP READINGS NEW
by: RS

Focusing on Panic attack symptoms developed into unnecessary fast heart rate even during times of excitement and times when one would normally be a little nervous.

Still to this day my heart races when taking BP at Dr and reading high.

Yesterday at Dr 1st reading was 147/100 pulse 109.
Waited two minutes took again, 134/81 with 70 pulse. F ing wish I could overcome this.

Jul 10, 2020
BP READINGS NEW
by: RS

Focusing on Panic attack symptoms developed into unnecessary fast heart rate even during times of excitement and times when one would normally be a little nervous.

Still to this day my heart races when taking BP at Dr and reading high.

Yesterday at Dr 1st reading was 147/100 pulse 109.
Waited two minutes took again, 134/81 with 70 pulse. F ing wish I could overcome this.

Jul 25, 2020
Hello! NEW
by: Carmen

Hi,
I will write more soon as I have same issue as all of you and it's nice not to feel alone...but I was wondering/had a question for Mark who posted "Jun 19, 2020
It's ALL in the Head"....I see you suggested a manual cuff instead of automatic (I've always just had automatic and I agree that sound causes more stress. What brand/type of manual cuff would you suggest is best/easiest to use? Thanks so much!

Aug 05, 2020
Glad I am not alone NEW
by: Shannon

Reading all of your comments. I have BP phobia after a scare at an infusion. I have always been nervous but it now is a full blown panic every time I check it or a medical professional. So I avoid as much as possible. Tomorrow I have a 24 hour monitor booked. I have already cancelled this 3 times. Ughh can I go and do this lol?

Aug 06, 2020
BP is extremely high NEW
by: Anonymous

So glad I found this. The fear is wearing me out and I thought I was alone with this problem. I have tried everything and nothing works. I am at a loss as to what to do. I can’t even look at a BP machine without panicking and blood pressure spiking.

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