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

Jun 16, 2016
Support Group :)
by: Melissa Nielsen

This is the 3rd time I have posted. I've had my phobia since 1993. The ONLY time my blood pressure is high is when I'm at the doctor. As high as 185/105 2 hours later at home it is 110/70. I check it with a wrist monitor. I wasnt always comfortable with it but after many years I am now. If my numbers were ever consistently high at home I would consider going on med but don't feel it necessary for now. This support group means so much to me! I understand every single one of you and it brings me comfort to know I'm not alone! I know my feelings are irrational but my brain doesn't care!!!! Looking for a new doctor as mine died last year. Stressed to explain my situation as I ramble and always feel emotional,crazy and judged. I'm in Salt Lake City if anyone is near:) Best of luck to everyone with upcoming medical appointments!

Melissa

Jul 20, 2016
same bananna
by: Anonymous

Got the same problem here.. but hey let us look at the bright side. This issue made me live healthier. I mean if I exercise, eat right and sleep well then chances are that my blood pressure would be on normal level. I think the only way to battle this is to live healthy. Exercise, eat right, have a good rest and just manage daily life stress levels. If you look at it, if you think you are healthy enough your fear would go away. I'm having progress now as I slowly manage to lower my stress level when someone is taking my BP. If you are confident that you are healthy, then I think this phobia will go away. Hope this helps.

Aug 09, 2016
Cuff size
by: Anonymous

I'm amazed that I have a phobia family, I thought I was the only one on the planet scared of a dopey machine. It's now hidden at the back of a very dark cupboard.
I seem to have WC syndrome as well but I wonder if it is the cuff size at the doctor's surgery. All the info says to make sure you use the correct size cuff but my doctor seems to use the same one for all, big arms, medium or small. My reading was 140 in the nurse's room and 165 in the doctor's room.

Aug 09, 2016
Too bad!
by: Anonymous

Something has happened to our blog and it's a shame. It's no longer what it used to be, which was very helpful. It's now taken over by ads and people trying to sell things. I will ask this one more time....is there anyone in the Chicago area? I'd like to get together to commiserate our problem?

Aug 13, 2016
Me too
by: Anonymous

I have been fighting this fear for years. I hate it too, it seems so stupid! My problem with machine is when it starts to squeeze again when it's a high reading. then I know and panic more. No one has mentioned this I wish machine would not do that and like everyone says we need an "instant reading" I do have high blood pressure but never know what actual reading is.

Sep 15, 2016
Hyperventilation helped me lower
by: KB801

I had to undergo an exam to get life insurance and the agent told me to try fast and rapid creating before being measured - if you've seen my previous posts you know I have the phobia big time, been as high as 200+/100+ in the office and much lower after and that evening (less than 120, less than 75).

I figured I'd never get a normal reading at the exam, but tried the hyperventilation and it was 103/83! I was thrilled! I had life insurance without the exam but it was more than 3 times more expensive than if you passed.

Reading up on it studies show it generally doesn't work well with people that have normal readings at the drs office, but those with WCH have much more significant reductions - they don't know why.

Give it a try!

Sep 20, 2016
right there with you with BP
by: Glenn

I don't dread getting a tooth pulled as much as seeing my family doc. She does let me bring in my own readings and they used to be low. Now the fear has spread to at home and work where the readings were good....not anymore....so I have no clue if I need more BP meds or not.....

One thing all of you should check is if you have lyme disease....as my lyme progressed (did not know I had it until last year) phobias and anxiety, depression got worse....I am trying Bach Remedies and they have been a large help but not in that area yet....as far as lyme get the blood test from Igenix and as far as Bach remedy it's Mimulus for "known fears"..it may help you...

Dec 28, 2016
Glad I found this
by: Anonymous

I found this board this evening as I'm going down one of my never-ending paths of freaking out over my blood pressure. I've had this phobia for as long as I can remember. I'm pretty sure it began in high school when they would pull me out of class to have my blood pressure re-checked by the school nurse. The initial reading was high-normal so they would have to re-check it. I am now 40 years old and have lived a life of complete irrational fear over my heart and blood pressure. I fear, for no good reason, the thought of keeling over of a heart attack or stroke. I am literally scared to death to take my BP. I have been kicked out of my local medial practice for missing 3 appointments in a row. Purely missing those appointments for fear of the blood pressure reading. I am not without a Dr. and haven't checked my reading in probably 60 days. If I check it and it's high I will go into a full on tailspin. Funny thing is I'm a smart guy, very successful, live a completely normal life and nobody would suspect this. I just can't get over this fear or phobia or whatever you want to call it. I have also battled generalized anxiety disorder most of my adult life. I wish so desperately that I could get this to all go away and think normal and rational thoughts again. It's so stupid, i know it but I just can't control it.

Jan 01, 2017
deep brathing
by: Anonymous

Hello. I am from Croatia. Sory for bad english. I found the way to reduce bp reading to around 90—115/60—75. When push the bottom on b.p madhine i take a deep breath counting to 4—5. Then holding breath as long as I can, and after that easy throw breath counting to 8. And suprise... every time iz apel. You can practice this tehnic gebefore takeing a readings.

Jan 01, 2017
deep brathing
by: Anonymous

Hello. I am from Croatia. Sory for bad english. I found the way to reduce bp reading to around 90—115/60—75. When push the bottom on b.p madhine i take a deep breath counting to 4—5 Then holding breath as long as I can, and after that easy throw breath counting to 8. And suprise... every time it dirka. You can practice this tehnic before teaking a readings.

Jan 01, 2017
You won't die!
by: Anonymous

When I found this blog over a year ago, it's really helped me. There are common sense opinions and helpful tips. I think one guy said that you won't die if you take your own blood pressure. The latest one that helped me was the rapid breathing done while having it taken. That really works. But also knowing that the best way to cure a phobia is to actually do the thing that you have a problem with, is the right way to go. Wouldn't we rather handle this at home and be in control, rather than wait to freak out at the doctor's office? The person prior to me, please read the blog, more than once. Don't pay attention to the interlopers who are trying to sell something.

Jan 11, 2017
high blood pressure
by: peter cole

My name is peter cole. I am 38 years old and live in califonia usa. My girlfriend told me how she was cured with dr sebi herbal healing medicine after it cured her high blood pressure but I was very, very skeptical. I suffered with dangerously high blood pressure and the thought of "consuming salt" is unheard of . After talking with Bob Butts and constant nagging from my girlfriend I decided I’d d try it for 2 days (just to shut her up)! The very first night I slept without interruption. That’s something I haven’t done in years. The next day my BP was 146/85, I couldn’t believe it! I lost my medical insurance and cant afford to go to a doctor. The only thing he’d do is prescribe medication that I cant afford anyway. I’ve been on dr sebi herbal healing medicine for 2 weeks and the affects are phenomenal. Not only is my BP at normal levels but, I have more energy, I’m more alert, have a better appetite, sleep much better and it goes on and on. For a skeptic like myself to participate in something like this is shocking in itself. I cant dispute these results and I am very excited about them. So why aren’t we told about this? contact dr sebi today to get your own cure for your HBP vai email drsebispelltemple@gmail.com or (http://drsebispelltemple.wixsite.com/spelltemple ) or whatsapp number +2348153863900 thank you doctor for you great works .

Jan 12, 2017
BP journey
by: Anonymous

I have been following this blog for 9 months, and it has helped me to realize that people from all walks of life deal with this. I was avoiding the Dr. office, and had to go when I thought my foot was broken. Of course I could feel my heart start pounding when they started getting out the BP cuff, and I know it is totally irrational. I told the doc I believe I have white coat syndrome, and to my pleasant surprise he was very understanding. He told me 1 in 3 people has it to some degree, 1 in 3!!! Helps to have company in this irrational club. Somehow just talking to him made me want to tackle this head on, have been taking regular readings at home, 130/65, which are good. Last time I went still got a high reading, 168/70, but I am determined not to let this consume me. So what if I get a high reading there, I will not be forced to take BP meds when I know it is low outside of there. I think the whole thing stems from watching my parents pass away and going to many dr. appts with them, and hearing the endless bad news. AND watching all the meds they took, I don't want to get on that merry-go-round! My mom had high BP, and a series of heart attacks and strokes, but her life style was very unhealthy. I am living very differently from her, but it's always in the back of my mind. So this is where the fear comes from. I am working on developing stronger faith that I can handle whatever comes up, part of that is facing this and going to the Dr. for regular things, like colonoscopy and female exams, and dealing with getting high readings in the dr office. Thanks for all your sharing, it is very helpful! I wish you the best in your journey <3

Jan 30, 2017
rapid breathing
by: Croatia

Hy!
I have a question, how to perform the rapid breathing technique. I know for a deep breath and it helps me, but rapid?


Feb 07, 2017
Thanks
by: Anonymous

Hi thanks a lot for comments.
It's always a relief to come across people facing and tackling the same problem. Hope we can find definitive measures to take reduce this syndrome...

Feb 08, 2017
"Rapid" Deep Breathing
by: Anonymous

Croatia - Just try faster than normal deep breathing. Something like twice as fast. There's probably more than one way to do it. Don't be afraid!

Feb 09, 2017
rapid breathing
by: kb801f

To Croatia - Yes rapid breathing, in and out, in and out fast. You may get a bit lightheaded but its not dangerous - you get more CO2 in your bloodstream this way and for reasons unknown will lower your BP - try it and good luck.

Feb 16, 2017
deep breath NEW
by: Croatia

Sorry for bad english...
What happens when you take a deep breath, and keep it for a long time while measuring blood pressure. To me, pressure is always low (70-110/45-80), but the pulse accelerate? Is it alco Co2 in blood or something else?
Thx for answer!!!

Feb 25, 2017
I did it! NEW
by: JBO

I too have to take my BP at home due to white coat syndrome. My machine broke about a year ago and I just assumed all was fine. I went to the doc yesterday and it was, of course, high. Not the usual 170/100, but that was because I took a 1/2 xanax before my appointment because my anxiety makes me a freak at the doctors. So I bought a machine, because I have to start taking it at home again. Yesterday I was so freaked out my reading was 193/108, this then brought on an panic attack like no other at work and I actually asked for an ambulance Luckily, someone knew what was happening and talked me down. Today, after reading your posts, I decided to try this and it worked. I put on the cuff, ran the machine and did not look at the numbers. I waited a few minted, did it again, and again. By the third time I could tell I was much calmer and dared to peek at the numbers. 120/60! Yes it was low, but I had taken 2 (.25) xanax and my Toprol 25 a half hour before to get up the courage. Try not looking the first few times, it worked!!! Peace :)

Feb 27, 2017
Our problems with BP Phobia NEW
by: Manfreda

Hello my fellow "sufferers" and "confused" by our common predicament. For a year I haven't contributed as I have tried to completely avoid the subject. I changed cardiologist (the former one frightened me and made it worse) even though I had all the heart tests in the world and I am OK). Changed to a real nice cardiologist that understood my problem and suggested I talk to a specialized psychologist. OK I will try that one again, but at least HE KNOWS that is all in my head. I have had many
unfortunate instances in my past that have caused me panic attacks; and that is all there is..PANIC. But how to control it. I keep on trying and nothing changes, I will give this new psychologist who apparently has helped others suffering as I am and let u know. This morning, by the way, my BP at home was in the 120s/70s. Yesterday, had a panic attack and it went up to 170/95. It goes even higher at doctor's. Let's keep the hope that we will each find what works for us. Bless u all.

Mar 03, 2017
TOTALLY WITH YOU ALL! NEW
by: diane

Some doctors are sympathetic and believe me when I say I can monitor it at home (where I still need to throw out the first reading because I freak myself out. Typically at home it's 130/80 or something in that range. At the doc's it has been as high as 177/100! I tell them it's NOT just whitecoat, it's an actualy PHOBIA. I had one doctor shout at me and say, "That is RIDICULOUS. This is a vital sign and I have to know what it is!" I told him that if I ever have a stroke someday i DON'T want it to be in the doctor's office getting my BP taken! It doesn't seem to register with people that it can be just as bad as a fear of heights or spider, snakes, anything... SO glad I found this thread.

Mar 04, 2017
try therapy NEW
by: j

I went to a therapist for this and we came up w/ 'tools' to use in a doctors office ... warn the nurse , give them a number and take home readings in .. I freak out about home readings too but I do it every day to 'desensitize' myself (per instruction) and have found the wrist monitor less scary. Once you can take it at home w/out freaking you'll feel much better ... i sometimes have to play games w/ my mind. take it while walking around or in the car, anything to just get used to it ... Good Luck!! There's also different medications for generalized anxiety and if you find an understanding doctor (they're out there!) maybe that would help too .... I take one for occasional need not every day. Again Good Luck you are not alone!! Even people in the medical field have this so it's very common

Mar 05, 2017
Attention gives things life NEW
by: Franny G

When I was in my thirties , forties, even my fifties my BP was always normal. There was ne doc who said "Youll never have trouble with high blood pressure." I took my good fortune ifor granted. Then my hair suddenly stared falling out during the beginning of menopause. I had just moved from New York Cityt to Vermont. I went to a new doc and The nurse saw a diastolic reading of 90 and went berserk. After that day I was spooked, and every time I had it taken it was high. It got worse as time went on. About six years ago I started taking a beta blocker. It helped. But it still goes up, even when I take it at home. Sometimes to the 180s. I just wrap the cuff and I can feel it elevate. There are times its Normal, 120's over 70,, but once I get tense and I see its high, it keeps getting worse. I use all kinds of tricks. Sometimes they work. Others, not. My best advice icomes a via a therapist who told a friend of mine "Your Attention Gives Things Life." The more you enjoy your life. Laugh. Get into nurturing company instead of obsessing, the more likely it is to normalize. As has already been said. This a phobia. As Rebbe Nachman of Bresliv said "Never despair. Nevet! It's forbidden to give up hope."

Apr 11, 2017
Not alone NEW
by: J

I thought I was the only person with this problem. My husband nearly passes out when they take his blood - they pamper him, put a cold towel on his neck, etc. But when I tell them I have a panic attack when my BP is measured they treat me like a freak. It's so comforting to know I'm not alone. I'm going to try EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) on this phobia. I have used it to clear lesser phobias. Wish me luck.

Apr 12, 2017
My numbers are now sky-high NEW
by: Deb

I am a 63 year old woman and have been dealing with high blood pressure for about 15 years. Because of white coat syndrome, I get a 24 ambulatory reading every 2 years. They have always proven that I just have white coat issues, though I did always need to be on medication. I just had another 24 hour test and my average reading was 166/88, with one reading of 235/115. The doc put me on another medication. I have always been about 40 pounds overweight, but last year I started the DASH diet, lost 40 pounds and kept it off, and started speed walking 3 miles a day. But my readings are way up. This makes no sense to me. I take my home monitor with me to the hypertension specialists office twice a year, and it is perfectly calibrated. I still get good readings at home, but I got horrible readings on the 24 hour monitor, and today at the doctors my bp was 210/100. I absolutely hate this. I no longer know what to believe - my home monitor or the 24 hour readings? In the past the 24 hour readings assured me I was just dealing with white coat, but now I am worried that is no longer true. I am an anxious person, but have never been on anti-anxiety medication. Now I'm wondering if that would help. I do agree that this is more of a phobia, rather than just being a bit anxious at the doctors. Anyway, it's good to talk to people that understand.

Apr 22, 2017
glad to know I'm not alone. NEW
by: Doug

I've had the same problem for years. It's good to know that I'm not alone. I was diagnosed with hypertension in my late 30s. I was a smoker and didn't exercise. I quit smoking in my early 40s and start exercising when I was 50. Even though I did cardio 3-4 times a week, and walked a mile every day during lunch my pressure was still high. Every time I just think about taking my bp at home I get extreme anxiety, it usually takes me 4 or 5 times of taking it to get it in the normal range (I'm on an ACE inhibitor and a calcium channel blocker. If anyone has any suggestions on how to conquer this I would be grateful..

Apr 22, 2017
glad to know I'm not alone. NEW
by: Doug

I've had the same problem for years. It's good to know that I'm not alone. I was diagnosed with hypertension in my late 30s. I was a smoker and didn't exercise. I quit smoking in my early 40s and start exercising when I was 50. Even though I did cardio 3-4 times a week, and walked a mile every day during lunch my pressure was still high. Every time I just think about taking my bp at home I get extreme anxiety, it usually takes me 4 or 5 times of taking it to get it in the normal range (I'm on an ACE inhibitor and a calcium channel blocker. If anyone has any suggestions on how to conquer this I would be grateful..

Apr 23, 2017
Not getting better NEW
by: LUCY

I jut got throughtakingmy blood pressure and it was 191/112. I have had pressure go as high as 260/160 in a hospital setting. Usually when I take my pressure it is in the 115/70 to 128/62. I have recently had to see some specialists and the ordeal of going through the BP readings has just made it worse. I have had this phobia for 40 years after an unfortunate over prescribing of BP which took my pressure too low, landing me in the hospital several times. By the time I got to the hospital it was sky high. It took a lot to visits and digging to determine I was being over medicated. I have never gotten over it apparently. Nothing seems to help. I also have a AAA so the high readings do not help that. I have tried meditation, hypnosis and nothing helps. I keep hoping I will wake up one day and it will be gone. lol I stopped going to the specialists and now just go to my primary care who orders all of my tests. I told him I would no longer go to all the doctors and put myself through multiple BP readings.

Apr 24, 2017
Breath deep NEW
by: Montrealer

24 hours monitor is no different than the classic one, they inflate and deflate hence they are anxiety inducer.

Let me tell you that it is more probable that you HBP is a result of you beeing anxious than anything else.

Do this and keep us posted:
Try the adomen deep respiration for 5 min before taking you BP.

Give yourself 5 min brake between deep respiration and the BP mesuring.

'm confident your numbers will b good.

Cheers

May 18, 2017
Different readings NEW
by: Chuck

Went to my physical for sherrifs department said my BP was 145 over 90 well I'm a power lifter so got a home machine come to find out the cuff is to small went to my doctor he took it said it was fine later on that day nurse at a hospital said it was 160 over 110 so went back to my doctor he took it manually it was normal went back next day nurse took it was high then he took and it was normal do t know whether to go with the doctor or the nurse

May 26, 2017
in the same boat... NEW
by: SD

Hi All,

Nice to know I'm not alone in this. I'm 39 and I've developed this fear in recent years. I went to the doc for the first time in a long time a few months ago and of course, my reading was high at the office. (140/90). The nurse and doc both reacted and scared me even more. It didn't seem like they cared when I explained how nervous I was about it. Needless to say, I don't want to go back. When I've taken it at home, its usually a bit high at first but goes down as I take it a few more times. I've dealt with anxiety since I was a kid, btw. I don't know If others can relate, but I feel like I can go through periods where I don't even think about my BP and then I'll read or hear something which will trigger my fear again to the point where I'm thinking about it daily. I have a wrist monitor but I'm afraid to use it now. When you have anxiety and this fear of BP, sometimes anxiety symptoms may trick you into thinking you have high BP. Not sure If that makes sense. Like right now, I'm thinking, I feel lightheaded and I wonder If thats bc I'm anxious or my BP might be high. But too afraid to check. Even If I do check, If I'm anxious, it will be high anyway. Ugh. Lol.


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