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blood pressure phobia
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blood pressure phobia

Hello,  I really hope someone can help me overcome my phobia.  I tend to get extremely nervous when I have my blood pressure taken ( even at home).  I don't know how to overcome this.  I have come up with a theory and tell me if this makes sense.  I feel if I cry, it relieves the stress rather than building up anxiety.  It seems to me that crying would relieve the stress.  If this is true, I am going to cry when I have to have my BP taken rather than stress out about it.  Please e-mail me ASAP.  I am really hurting inside.  I appreciate  your understanding about this irritational phobia.  I would appreciate any advice to help me through this difficult time.  Thank you so much.  God Bless.
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21 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_n_tn
I completely understand, I have the same phobia, and in fact avoid doctor visits for this very reason, they want to take my blood pressure....I won't even try to take it at home, for me the phobia stems from hating being able to feel my own pulse or any pounding in my veins (which I can feel when they put that cuff on me and squeeze it).

I see there are others who have mentioned this phobia. I see one doctor replied, 'talk to your Doctor about it'. HAH! That would mean going to the doctor of course, and when I go to the doctor they routinely take my blood pressure....

have no idea if crying would help, but I'd say if you think there is any possibility it would go for it. I am wondering though: is your phobia of the actual process of having the blood pressure taken (that is my problem), or are you also nervous as to what the pressure level/findings will be?
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Avatar_n_tn
Irrational or not, phobias are real to the people who have them.  Sometimes these fears can be managed by taking small steps and noticing that nothing bad happens.  Since you have a BP monitor at home, just practice putting the cuff around your arm and taking it off.  When you notice nothing bad happens and you become comfortable, then take it a step further.  Inflate the cuff, perhaps only partially at first.  Again, you should take notice that nothing bad happens when you do these things.  
   It may take several days, or perhaps weeks of practice--each time working toward completion of the process until you feel sufficiently comfortable to complete the whole thing.  Again, each time take notice that nothing bad happens to you when you do any of the incremental steps.  
   If you find this does not help, you might wish to talk to your doctor about anxiety medications since there is a strong link between anxiety and phobias.  
  I hope this is helpful to you.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi.  I have to constantly take my blood pressure because I was diagnosed with hypertension.   You could possibly try to take deep breaths - breathe in through the nose and let it out slowly through the mouth - try this about 3 times and think of some thing calming - anything that you love that brings a smile to you.  Try to let your mind stay on pleasant things or maybe a tv show to distract you for a few minutes.  I hope maybe some of this helps.
God bless.
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Avatar_f_tn
I know exactly what you are going through.  I have the same thing.  This is a phobia which is VERY hard to get over.  I blame the medical professionals for that also.  Whenever my BP was higher than what they wanted to see I got the "oh my god, look at this BP, we have to get this down NOW, do you know what a number like that can do to you? You can have a stroke any time" I got this from several different nurses, and doctors over the years.  I was more afraid of the "oh my god look at this BP" or "is your BP ALWAYS like that????" than the high BP numbers itself that I stopped seing doctors for eight yrs.  The phobia is so strong that tranquelizers, beta blockers, deep breathing, none of that stuff helped me until one day I was so worked up that my BP shot up to 255/160.  A Cardiologist advised me NOT to have my BP taken at a doctor's office anymore.  To take my BP at home and bring in the readings which I do now for the last 5 yrs.  A Hypertension Specialist told me that he was not surprised that nurses and doctors scare people telling people that with one spike you can stroke out. He educated me a lot about BP.  However, I was advised to take BP meds which I do and no side effects at all.  But the Hypertension Specialist told me with a severe phobia/anxiety your BP still will go sky high when at the doctor's office and he agreed with the Cardiologist to take my BP at home and bring in the readings.

P.S. two yrs of therapy to overcome this phobia did NOT help me one bit.  I was given Xanax to take before an appointment and it did NOT help.

I know what you are going through.
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Avatar_n_tn
I suffer from the same thing and have done for 25 years.  It's never got any better even though I've been taking my own readings at home for eight years.  Usually they're fine but sometimes I can't even bring myself to take it, I'm just so scared of the results.  My GP is happy with home readings but I have to have a hip replacement soon and I know the aneasthetist is going to comment on my BP, as this happened two years ago when I had another othropaedic op. and he made a comment about deferring the surgery until my BP was under control, although it did go ahead.  My GP says just show him the home readings but the aneasthetist wasn't impressed with home readings and said the surgery readings are relevant.  And they are always mega-high!  I'm having psychotherapy to try to cope with this problem before the op. but having read Barbarella's comment I wonder if it's a complete waste of time and money.

You have my deepest sympathy.

PS.  And it's good to know I'm not the only one with this phobia.
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Avatar_f_tn
Been having the same problem forever. Now it's gotten so bad even taking readings at home have become problematic - just one high reading and I'm off the charts on the next one. Tried meditation, imagery, etc. and nothing really helps. It makes it super hard to know if I have HBP or anxiety.
Hope you can find a way out of this loop - if so, be sure to let the rest of us know!
Best luck.
Mountainwoman
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Avatar_n_tn
Oh my this sounds so familiar to me. I had this for years. Still due with blood tests but am slowly getting better.
What I would do is take a cd player or ipod with earphones and play your favorite music while they take it something that calms you and take deep breaths. I would also close my eyes to alleviate the stress.
Good luck and God Bless.
Darlie426
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Avatar_n_tn
I can't believe other people have this same phobia as myself.  I thought I was crazy because of it.  It effects so much of my life.  Please share any and all suggestions.  I have just recently started seeing a thereapist, so we will see.  If I learn anything I will gladly share it with everyone.  I know how hard it is to live with this.
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm not sure that crying will help as I think crying can raise your BP.  I too have the same problem, and it is really nice to know that I'm not the only one.  I bought the resperate which really seemed to help calm me down before testing my BP.  

Whether in the Dr.'s or at home I was having panic attacks (racing heart, sweaty palms and feet, thinking I was going to die) before I tested it.  It would be especially high at the Dr's.  For the past 3 weeks my BP came down really low with a combination of exercise, low sodium diet, relaxation yoga, meditation, and the resperate tool.  Consistently between 105-130 systolic and 60-80 diastolic.

Of course, last night I got one slightly higher reading after feeling anxious (141/81) and that sent me into a tailspin.  Now I'm afraid that the resperate won't work anymore, etc.  This anxiety is crippling.  I feel for everyone of you that has this problem because it's a vicious, unforgiving cycle.  Getting your BP tested makes you anxious, the very thing that causes it in the first place.
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Avatar_f_tn
Wow, I can't believe so many other people have this problem also, I really felt all alone in this.  I have had a phobia over having my blood pressure taken since I was 21, over the following 10 years I've found the anxiety is getting worse with it.  Sometimes just thinking about my blood pressure sends me into full on panic attack (racing heart, can't relax, can't think rationally, etc) and can leave me feeling like this for a few days (the vicious cycle of 'I am feeling anxious, therefore my blood pressure must be high'), then other times I will be completely relaxed and can take my blood pressure at home no problems with fine results and think about it rationally  The weird thing is I am quite a laidback person, just the blood pressure really freaks me out.  No matter what whenever I am in a medical situation my anxiety goes sky high along with the blood pressure.

At the beginning of this year I had my first baby, I checked before getting pregnant with her whether it would be ok to have a baby due to my anxiety and was told it wouldn't be a problem.  Unfortunately at 26 weeks gestation I got sick and she had to be delivered by emergency c-section.  She is now nearly 8 months old and is doing great thank goodness!!!  I was worried that my anxiety caused her premature birth but was assured that wasn't the case.  Obviously while I was in hospital they kept taking my blood pressure but my anxiety was sky high so they did loads of tests on me which in turn increased my anxiety more and more.  After about a week I didn't feel quite as anxious and my blood pressure was fine with no medication.  I was discharged from hospital but of course they still wanted to do their postnatal checks on me, this is when my anxiety came back.  They took my blood pressure and of course it was sky high and they said I had to stay in their ward until it came down (said the whole comments about 'you could have a stroke', etc), obviously this increased my anxiety once again and I had to stay in hospital for another two nights, they discharged me on the condition I would take my blood pressure at home which I did, getting good results.  Then I went for a follow up and of course the anxiety came back but luckily since I was getting such good readings at home she didn't re-admit me, I was absolutely petrified of that.

So for a few months I wasn't affected by the anxiety and now all of a sudden I have the anxious feelings back about my blood pressure, scared of what will happen next time I go to the GP or if I ever need to go to hospital, what damage am I doing to my body, etc.  I have been contemplating going to the GP to tell him how I am feeling but scared of what he might do to me, I especially don't want to be put into hospital away from my beloved daughter.

I look after myself and am generally a very happy and healthy person so I don't understand why I am so petrified of my blood pressure, it can be so crippling at times.  Does anyone have any tips, etc?  I would really, really appreciate it, hate this feeling of feeling so worked up and unable to relax.  I have tried CBT and hypnotherapy in the past.
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685471_tn?1227133321
Hi, I am 21 years old and I have had the same phobia for about 3 years now....I hate going to the doctor, I get so nervous!!! It all started when I went to the hospital over a kidney infection and my bp was high (170/90). The nurse made comments like I had to immediatley stop smoking ect. or I was going to die! I got so nervous and that was the beginning of my phobia, ever since then I've had this phobia and the doctors just don't seem to understand when I explain to them that my bp is normal at home and that I have a phobia...they act like I'm lying or something! It is an awful feeling. For me, I HAVE to go the my doctor every three months to get refills on my medication,it sux. I get nervous when the appointment is still a week away!!!!! To the point where I make myself sick! Finally I talked my doctor into letting me just take my bp at home and record the readings, and now I don't have to get it taken there!!
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Avatar_f_tn
I am so glad to find out I am not alone. I have been suffering for 20 years with this phobia. I really thought no one else could have this problem. I quit even going to the dr. because i was so afraid of having my bp checked. i would always get a high reading and i would have the same response from nurses and drs. telling me all the bad things that could happen to me if i didn't keep a watch on this. i did the home monitoring too for awhile but that even began to stress me out that i would have an anxiety attack when i would reach for the bp cuff. i also found my self checking over and over again until i found the numbers that i wanted. i swear its like having anorexia. you become so obsessed over numbers. i am post menopausal and i know i need to go back for my well woman check up but the last time as was there i got the same response over my bp. i tried to tell her i had white coat syndrome and been going thru this all my life but she only looked at me like i was crazy. i wish i could just say the heck with it and act like a normal person and go have regular checkups like i know i need too. i try and take care of myself. i excersise 5 days a week and i watch what i eat. i limit my fats salts and sweets. my main meals are mosltly fruits and vegetables.
if anyone has any suggestions please let me know.
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Avatar_f_tn
Dear beaglemom and everyone!

I have had the same phobia since my early twenties. I am closing in on 40 now and it is not getting any better... in fact, the anxiety is getting worse! I am not afraid of doctors or needles or anything like that, just the blood pressure checking part. It has kept me from going on my well check-ups for 6 years. It is also a pain for me to go to the dentist because they check my BP there as well. Through the years, it has gotten worse because of comments from some nurses and doctors. I had one young doctor laugh at me and comment on my high PB and heart-rate with snide remarks... and hafter that, my anxiety got even worse.

To try protect myself and be able to cope, I purchased a BP machine/cuff at Walgreens that I use a couple of times before going to the doctor and write down my readings, so I can "prove" that my BP is perfectly fine under normal circumstances. I am lucky in that I am fine as long as I am home and take the reading myself. It was my dentist who told me about the "white coat syndrome". She is fine with me showing her my home readings, but still they always try to take my BP before check ups :(

Other than that, I am a very stable and happy person. It is just this thing that sets me off... and I have tried everything I can think of to find a solution: praying, meditating, repeating riddles or songs in my head... anything to keep calm and escape the anxiety. So far, nothing has really helped me.

I came across this website that talks about fobias and the psychology behind it. I found it quite interesting and maybe there is a simple solution to this. The author offers a free recording to listen to (bottom of page) where you picture yourself in the situation that causes your fobia, and then he will talk you through a short session and finishes it with "removing" the fobia. It is free and worth a try in my book. Anything that could help me get past this horrible situation I welcome with an open mind!

http://www.psychresearch.com/phobias.html

I shall let you know if it worked for me... I have a doctors app next week!

God Bless, and don't give up!
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Avatar_m_tn

I has a name - white coat hypertension and google it...on web site of interest is-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_coat_hypertension
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Avatar_f_tn
I personally had never had a blood pressure issue before.  But somewhere along the way I've developed a severe phobia of anyone checking my BP.  I'm sure lengthy hospitalizations (for an unrelated autoimmune disease)  hooked up to those contantly *beeping* heart monitors didn't help matters.  I also watched my mother struggle with her own admitted blood pressure phobia for many years as she and her doctors became frustrated trying to manage her extremely eratic BP with many different combinations of medications to no avail.  Her doctors would become alarmed at high readings in the office (210/90) and increase her medications.... then she would pass out, most times while we were out in public and it was awfully frightening.  Once we were on the top steps of an escalator and I had to hold her from falling down as I also held 2 winter coats and 2 purses. Another occasion while in the hospital, she crashed with a BP of 70/0 by time she actually came to.  I would try to explain to them how at home her BP was usually about 130/60.... but there were times her systolic BP would spike over 200 for whatever reason.  Finally, her doctors are realizing the only way to deal with this was for me to take on the job of monitoring her BP daily and adjust the dose accordingly instead of generally over reacting.  

Anyhow,  I find that no one can come near me with a BP cuff now.... I immediately fly into full blown PANIC.  Just this weekend I went to the ER after a night of nonstop PVC's.... and my blood pressure was elevated ranging from 162/ 75- 178/98 on those digital monitors.  But as soon as I returned home and took it on my manual machine, it was 120/78 as usual.  The ironic thing is.... Mom is 87 and has lived a good long life DESPITE this situation since she was first aware of it in her 30's.  Her recent echo was very good, especially for a person of her age.  I realize this is just one person's account, but I remind myself to not automatically jump to the worst conclusion.
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Avatar_f_tn
I'm getting there. Mainly I hate the "OMG" when they take your B/P. I also hate the way doctors seem to respond to it. Like they have to load you down with every medication they can come up with. I find though I do have the White Coat Syndrome when it comes to dentist. Mainly the drill though. Last week my B/P in the chair (and I told her it was to her best interest not to take my B/P while sitting in a dental chair) was 226/134. She then called my doctor which then only made it worse. My doctor says he wants me to take my B/P twice a day but I seem to find every excuse to not do it. Its a strange kind of comfort to find other people with the same phobia though. :}.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have the same fear and have suffered with it for many years.  The only thing that seems to help is having a beer or a glass or two of wine and then taking my blood pressure (at home with my Omron device).  It relaxes me and voila my pressure is normal, or even a little low.  It's entirely psychological, and individuals like you and me can create the 'hyper' situation that fulfills our prophecy.  By the way, I am going to my cardiologist for my yearly exam tomorrow. As I write this, I have consumed more than a glass and a half of wine.  My BP is 108/68.  At the doctor's office (no doubt tomorrow morning) it will be 170/100.
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Avatar_m_tn
I experienced the same thing which lead to this condition. I'm just 20yrs old and I think that's not really good considering my age. It happened about 3 years ago when I was about to get a medical certificate from the university hospital as I had colds, so I needed to be excused for all the class meetings that I was not able to attend. The old nurse got my bp first, the moment I entered the hospital. I walked for about 10-15 mins. to go there. The hospital is located at the upper campus so going there is like walking uphill. It is expected that my bp will go up the moment you get it. Her reaction was really shocking and that made me feel so nervous and afraid at the same time, and I even thought that something bad will happen to me at that moment. She even consulted her other colleagues and I was hearing murmurs from them but didn't understand what were those about. She didn't tell me to rest for just a few mins. or didn't even ask me how I get in there, didn't even assess how I look that I maybe feeling tired before she got my bp. I understand that the result/bp may not be normal but their reactions don't have to be like that which may worsen the condition. And because of that, it seems like she, a nurse, became the cause of my phobia which I never had before. I want to be treated soon as this may affect my life, because in applying for a job, a medical exam is required and BP is one of those they use in assessing one's health. Also, every time that my bp is needed, the result my not be true because the phobia affects it a lot.
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Avatar_f_tn
Oh, can I empathise! I measured my BP this  morning and it was 110/65. I thought I had overcome my phobia, and decided to go for the 24 hour monitor so that we could see how things really were. In the surgery, with the monitor fitted, what is the first reading? 180/105. I give up. I am a pragmatic, commonsensical person. And I am doing this lunatic thing. I give up.
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2193833_tn?1339414902
I totally relate to how everyone  feels here.....I can't even use my home monitor now! I'm actually the opposite to most people, I get freaked when I take it myself but when I'm at the doctors office & have it taken manually then it's a better reading....I think it's the digital monitor making me worse as I can see the numbers shooting up & even the sound gets me!...It's instinctive, as soon as that cuff goes on my arm & I press the start button my pulse quickens and I get high readings....I used to be able to take it myself and I would take 3 consecutive readings with a short break inbetween as instructed by my health professional...it would drop with each consectutive reading ....then when I developed the big fear I found it kept going up!!
I'm on 2 different bp tabs daily which I never miss taking....dunno what happened exactly but I went thru an intense period of anxiety & had a few panic attacks....then started to worry that it would affect my bp...hence when I would take it, it was higher....then I ended up in a&e with a back prob where the power in my legs went & they brought me to resuss thinking I was having a stroke!!! The readings were going thru the roof & seeing them wasn't helping....as soon as they realised it wasn't a stroke they got me out of there pronto as they knew it was just working me up...since then I can't even look at an electronic monitor!
So alas I am in a difficult situation because I can't take mine at home now and that makes me feel vulnerable as some days I worry a lot wanting to know what it is, but I can't keep turning up at the doctors office to have it checked or they will think I'm a complete hypochondriac!
I just try to remain positive and keep myself calm....my cardiologist told me on my last visit 2 months ago that I am fine & he is happy with my bp, that it's normal and also the bp meds I'm on are excellent & give me great coverage...he's actually on the same ones. He told me he only gets his checked now & again as it can become an obsession...yeah like I know! lol

Had it checked a week ago & it was fine at the surgery....have been doing ok and not panicking as much about it but if I get a headache or feel a bit iffy I start to think OMG what's my reading......just feel SO stuck not being able to take it myself.....just for the relief of seeing that it's ok like I used to get.....but I know there's no point now as it would only freak me out more....
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Avatar_n_tn
Well, I also thought I was alone. I will stop worrying about it, and stop taking it, and eat well and exercise. Let's all take a month off - no more Bps till after Christmas - then see how we feel after we deliberately stop stressing out.
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