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.

Aug 13, 2020
In the same boat in India NEW
by: Meher

Hi All,
Can't tell you how relieved I feel to have found kindred souls. I live in Mumbai, India. About two weeks ago, I felt unwell so took my BP at home and was horrified to see a reading of 210/110 at night. Had it checked by a Doctor the next morning and it was 200/110. He told me that this was a dangerously high reading, which set off more panic. I was on Telma 20 per day, which has been bumped up to Telma 80 per day. Despite that, the numbers are still high but not alarmingly so.This leads to more panic.I'm supposed to take a reading once a day but I am terrified to do so.I know that my BP spikes at the thought of it but I just can't control that.Sometimes, I've put the machine off before the reading registers!Having found you all, makes me feel so much lighter and less scared. Thank you for your posts and for being there.

Aug 13, 2020
In the same boat in India NEW
by: Meher

Hi All,
Can't tell you how relieved I feel to have found kindred souls. I live in Mumbai, India. About two weeks ago, I felt unwell so took my BP at home and was horrified to see a reading of 210/110 at night. Had it checked by a Doctor the next morning and it was 200/110. He told me that this was a dangerously high reading, which set off more panic. I was on Telma 20 per day, which has been bumped up to Telma 80 per day. Despite that, the numbers are still high but not alarmingly so.This leads to more panic.I'm supposed to take a reading once a day but I am terrified to do so.I know that my BP spikes at the thought of it but I just can't control that.Sometimes, I've put the machine off before the reading registers!Having found you all, makes me feel so much lighter and less scared. Thank you for your posts and for being there.

Aug 20, 2020
dilemma NEW
by: Anonymous

Hello, I am writing from Turkey. i have also smilar symptoms. I visited cardiology, nefrology many times and my blood and urine tests were perfect. Doctor also monitored my bp 24 hours with a BP ambulator and BP levels were all below 12 / 8 except for midnight. ( It was 14/9 two or tree times at btwn 2-4 am). Doctor also tested my kidneys, kidney veins and adrenal glands (24 hours Vanil test. All were normal before 2 months. But now ı am trying to monitor my bp it seems 14 /9 14/10. I am very afraid of this phobia. When I visit doctor smilar numbers seem at his office. Two days ago I visited psychiatrist and am diagnosed with genel panic /anxiety disorder, ilness anxiety disorder and expectancy disorder. I have started with a SRRI and betablocker. Beta will help util the effects of SRRI occurs.

Aug 20, 2020
Group chat anyone? NEW
by: Meher

Hi,
Is there a group where we can 'speak' to each other in real time?
It would be so helpful to connect with someone who understands, when we are experiencing the fear.
Meher

Aug 24, 2020
Cuff inflation triggers panic NEW
by: AK

Thanks to all you wonderful people for posting your experience. So glad to know I am not all alone.

I have been home monitoring for a while now and my BP was around 135/90 on average.

However one day recently it started showing high readings and I got very anxious. My heart started racing and every single reading was going up 150--> 160 --> 170 -->180 continuously

ever since then I am experiencing extreme anxiety and nervousness checking my BP. Ecery time I press the start button and the cuff starts to inflate, my pulse goes to >100 and I start dreading. It consistently shows high readings. I am not sure how to get out of this phobia.

For some reason I think I will feel better at a Drs office as I know the Dr will take care of me if something extreme happens during the reading. But at home, I am scared especially if I am measuring when all alone.

Sep 05, 2020
So I am not alone NEW
by: Anonymous

Hi Everyone,

I have stopped checking my BP at home because it gives me severe panic attack and anxiety.
I had to give out my blood pressure machine but I follow all healthy lifestyle

1. Exercising Regularly (walking & cardio exercises)
2. Breathing Exercise
3. Eating healthy diet
4. Drink alot of water
5. Sleeping and waking up same time daily and
6. AvoidingQ any anxiety triggers
7. Repeat 1-6 daily

With this, I have my sanity and i can function well at work.

My Dad had same situation 10years ago and he stuck to the same routine above and he is still kicking strong at 70yrs with no complications

Sep 20, 2020
Conquering BP phobia NEW
by: Banani

Hey all, glad I am not the only freak with this problem, which has been bothering me for the past two years.

I have low BP in the 90’s/60’s zone, but after having witnessed the death of a coworker two years ago, I started excessively measuring Bp until I finally scared myself to death with very bizarre measurements.

I have recently started exposing myself to this fear. My fear is not so much about measuring the blood pressure, but knowing the numbers afterwards.

At first, I would tape up the panel so that I wouldn’t be able to see the numbers. On an occasion I decided to remove the tape and check the numbers in the memory , they were like Perfect!

However the problem is getting anxious when measuring BP without the panel covered, meaning that knowing the number (might be high) is my root fear.

I started doing this experiment with myself a week ago- measuring Bp and looking at the numbers right away.

I was getting like 160’s/90’s for like 5-6 days. I was trying to habituate myself to the situation, but it didn’t work as well as I had hoped.

Then I came across this article :

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ie/blog/all-about-anxiety/201906/why-exposure-therapy-isn-t-enough

It says mere habituation is not enough! You need to welcome your fear and tell your anxiety that you want more fear!

So when I was doing my daily exposure this morning. The first measurement was the same old high reading, and I got fed up, I turned the machine over facing myself and I told it to give me higher numbers...! I was actually watching the number going up and then down to the result. I know this sounds crazy, but as I started doing that , the number started to drop dramatically. I got 116/76 within 5 minutes.

I was psyched! As this is only my first time getting a normal reading in like two years I need to see if this is to stay in the long run.

Also to get an idea of how to want more fear and anxiety, the following YouTube series is very helpful!

Search for ‘ the noise is your head’!

Please let me know if it is also working for you!

Let’s get through this together!

Sep 20, 2020
Conquering BP phobia
by: Banani

Hey all, glad I am not the only freak with this problem, which has been bothering me for the past two years.

I have low BP in the 90’s/60’s zone, but after having witnessed the death of a coworker two years ago, I started excessively measuring Bp until I finally scared myself to death with very bizarre measurements.

I have recently started exposing myself to this fear. My fear is not so much about measuring the blood pressure, but knowing the numbers afterwards.

At first, I would tape up the panel so that I wouldn’t be able to see the numbers. On an occasion I decided to remove the tape and check the numbers in the memory , they were like Perfect!

However the problem is getting anxious when measuring BP without the panel covered, meaning that knowing the number (might be high) is my root fear.

I started doing this experiment with myself a week ago- measuring Bp and looking at the numbers right away.

I was getting like 160’s/90’s for like 5-6 days. I was trying to habituate myself to the situation, but it didn’t work as well as I had hoped.

Then I came across this article :

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ie/blog/all-about-anxiety/201906/why-exposure-therapy-isn-t-enough

It says mere habituation is not enough! You need to welcome your fear and tell your anxiety that you want more fear!

So when I was doing my daily exposure this morning. The first measurement was the same old high reading, and I got fed up, I turned the machine over facing myself and I told it to give me higher numbers...! I was actually watching the number going up and then down to the result. I know this sounds crazy, but as I started doing that , the number started to drop dramatically. I got 116/76 within 5 minutes.

I was psyched! As this is only my first time getting a normal reading in like two years I need to see if this is to stay in the long run.

Also to get an idea of how to want more fear and anxiety, the following YouTube series is very helpful!

Search for ‘ the noise is your head’!

Please let me know if it is also working for you!

Let’s get through this together!

Sep 22, 2020
Try this NEW
by: Oztinato

As the band tightens around your arm take three slow breaths, then take a deep full inhale and hold your breath until the band releases.
You'll be surprised.
Use only a tester that slowly tightens and then fully releases.
Never use a kit that tightens, releases slightly and tightens again.

Oct 24, 2020
High BP Phobia too NEW
by: Morlissa

I am so glad I found this. I have had white coat syndrome for years, but in the last few years have developed an out right phobia to going to a doctor. Its hard to get past the beginning of the visit if they wont stop discussing the BP numbers. Now I just think about going to the doctor and get a wave of panic. A few years ago I had lower stomach pains and ended up in the ER. My BP was 225/107. The good news is I didn't sit in the ER very long. They had me in and admitted asap. The bad news, I had a perforated bowel and 2 weeks in ICU and surgery to remove 12 inches of my bowel later..... I have high BP, I tried to ignore it, but I really think that's stupid so I started taking meds again. The ones I were on got recalled because they were from china and killing people. I stopped taking BP meds (I don't take any other ones) We moved to Florida this year and I got hit with really bad vertigo and I thought I was having a stroke or something. 3 days in the hospital and ALL the big tests say I am fine. Back on BP meds. Now I need a new doctor, have an appointment and just the thought of going in and getting my BP taken causes horrific panic attack, making the vertigo awful. I have read these threads so this is what I am going to do. I will take my BP at home (I think I am still ok doing that) and show them the results and let them know I have a phobia. If they don't go along with the program, I will find a doctor who is more understanding.

Nov 01, 2020
Research project NEW
by: Matthew

Hi Everyone,

I'm a final year university student studying product design at Loughborough University in the UK.

I'm looking into the redesign of blood pressure monitors to aid those with a phobia of measuring their blood pressure, in order to get more accurate, comfortable readings.

I've been reading though these comments and have learnt a great deal about the problem, however it would be great if I could interview/discuss some of these problems in more detail with people who are currently suffering.

If anyone is interested in having a quick online chat/interview regarding blood pressure phobias then please contact me via email.
I'd really appreciate any time you could spare!

m.j.yeoman-17@student.lboro.ac.uk

Many thanks,
Matt

Nov 13, 2020
Still Interested?
by: Kevin

Matt,

I sent you an em about this and haven't heard - If you are still interested in discussing my em is kb801f@gmail.com

Nov 15, 2020
Hi everyone NEW
by: KM

I found this page after going in for a COVID test this afternoon. First, I am a highly anxious person. Second, I believe I have White Coat Syndrome that has even started to make taking my own BP at home difficult. Three, I was stressed about the test and wasn’t expecting them to check my BP.

I think it was 174/91. The girl acted freaked out, which made me freak out. She kept taking it, changing arms, changing cuffs, calling the nurse in (I don’t even know what the girl giving the test was, I had assumed a nurse...). Needless to say it went up and I think at its highest was in the 190s/109 or something. I was panicking inside, they kept talking to me, I was trying to play it cool but it felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest. I tried some deep breathing which was very hard to do with two people standing there acting like I’m at death’s door. I got it back to 174/89 and I guess the nurse decided it was panic and told the other girl to proceed with the COVID test. I’m supposed to fu with my doctor.

I’m still not calm. I did take it when I got home and it was 159/87. Then I took a bath and now I’m lying on the couch trying to relax. I have got to get this under control. I’ve had high BP and been on Lisinopril/HCTZ, just Lisinopril, just HCTZ, currently nothing. Eventually my bp starts to get too low which is why all of the changes over the years.

Many times at home it is normal, I also have periods of very low, and periods of too high. I did have a cardiologist appointment in the last year for palpitations and everything is fine. I did a holter monitor and stress test. The dr said the palpitations are benign.

I have a very stressful job that contributes to it. I’ve been working remotely for 8 months. My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s this week. My daughter is a nurse working with COVID patients and my son is at his dad’s. My only social interaction has been caring for my elderly parents since March.

I’ve recently bought a Resperate. I’m just bad about remembering to use it. I avoid home BP readings often because it stresses me. Idk what to do.

Having found this forum is reassuring.

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