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For Agoraphobics And Those With Panic Attacks

K

kittykitty

Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2015
Messages
36
Location
Dallas, Texas
So...I kinda wanted to tell my success story and give hope to those with agoraphobia and panic attacks. I must have browsed this website a million times looking for some shred of hope when suffering from dental pain and fear of going to the dentist! I think we often have the mindset that "My agoraphobia and anxiety is worse than anyone's!". I know I've had that thought several times. So...to give you a brief history of my own panic disorder and agoraphobia, I struggle to leave my house every single time I have to. Every time. Grocery shopping? Check! Corner store? Check! Called 911 while having a panic attack? Check! Dentist? Check! Check! Check! I have trouble with one on one conversations because the entire time my heart is pounding out of my chest and I feel like I'm just going to faint. This all started for me from a bad relationship + I had quite severe anxiety as a kid, but that doesn't really matter, I suppose. Sometimes we don't even know where or why it starts, but it is what it is.

Now to the dental fear. I'm here to say that you CAN do it. I know. I wouldn't have believed it either. Especially since it's hard to even socialize, leave the house, etc...
My teeth started failing me at the age of 23 (I have an autoimmune illness and bad genetics in the tooth department). I know first hand how painful it is, not to mention embarrassing.

So...I wanted to give some tips and tricks to those suffering and share what helped me get to the dentist and get treatment.

1. Find a dentist you trust and be 1000% honest with your dentist about your fear. Discuss your anxiety, panic, agoraphobia, and whatever it is you're afraid of. When you first call to make an appointment, ask the receptionist if the dentist would be willing to call you back so you can talk to him about your fears. I found that going in and pretending to feel 'a-ok' just added to my anxiety. I was just sitting there paralyzed with fear and wanting to jump out of my skin. You'd be surprised how understanding most dentists are, as they see fearful patients often.

2. Find a dentist that is close to you, if at all possible. I have found that the anticipation of going to the dentist takes my anxiety to the next level, and driving 30 minutes or more to get there doesn't help. Knowing my dentist is really close (5 minutes away) makes it that much easier.

3. Don't go alone. Let someone else drive you to and from your appointment. This needs to be someone you fully trust. As silly as it may sound to some, I found that riding in the back seat helped in case I panicked and felt the need to lie down.

4. Take things that make you comfortable. I usually take things for distraction, such as an iPod with calming music, a bottle of water, medication in case I panic, and a small snack such as a granola bar. Just knowing I have these things helps alleviate some of my anxiety.

5. Sit with the panic. Feel it, and ride it out. I know...it's SO HARD. It feels like any second you're going to explode or go crazy. You won't. I promise. I often repeat in my head "feel the fear and do it anyway". I don't know if this sounds corny lol, but it helps me. I actually let myself focus on each symptom, feel it, make peace with it, and remind myself that panic is NOT going to kill me, no matter how uncomfortable it feels.

6. Ask for sedation during treatment. I often opt for IV sedation during treatments such as extractions and root canals. I know it can be quite pricey, but it's so worth it. If you have the means, I'd suggest it 100%. I'm in and out and don't remember the appointment at all. And not in a scary way! But in a very relaxed way. There are also other forms of sedation that are more affordable, such as nitrous and pills. Whatever makes you feel the most comfortable during treatment, I recommend doing.

Lastly, don't beat yourself up if you miss an appointment. Just keep trying. It can be hard to even call and make appointments and I totally understand that! I still get nervous every time. As I said earlier, I make myself feel the fear and do it anyway. You can do it! Having a healthy mouth is so worth it! I have found that every time I make myself go it gets a little easier, and I suppose this is how it is for all fears. The only way out is through.

I hope this helps someone. :)
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 26, 2017
Messages
2,767
Location
Minneapolis, MN
Great advice Kitty!! GREAT!! Thanks

I just found a new dentist and its the first time I was that honest with not only him but the assistant and the gals at front, hygenist everyone!! It made a huge difference in anxiety level.. He was awesomely helpful and very understanding and compassionate. as was everyone!! as much as I get sick at even the thought and watch too many you tube vidoes etc.. well... I know once I get in the chair things will be better... I absolutely love my new dental team but I did take the step to be vulnerable and admit my fears and shame.. I think when we do that it gives us greater strength and if the dentist is a jerk at that point.. I'd say RUN..... fast..

also sitting with the fear and anxiety.. GREAT point... good!! you encouraged me
 
K

kittykitty

Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2015
Messages
36
Location
Dallas, Texas
Great advice Kitty!! GREAT!! Thanks

I just found a new dentist and its the first time I was that honest with not only him but the assistant and the gals at front, hygenist everyone!! It made a huge difference in anxiety level.. He was awesomely helpful and very understanding and compassionate. as was everyone!! as much as I get sick at even the thought and watch too many you tube vidoes etc.. well... I know once I get in the chair things will be better... I absolutely love my new dental team but I did take the step to be vulnerable and admit my fears and shame.. I think when we do that it gives us greater strength and if the dentist is a jerk at that point.. I'd say RUN..... fast..

also sitting with the fear and anxiety.. GREAT point... good!! you encouraged me
Awesome! I'm so happy to hear you've found a dental team that you trust! And I think opening up about your fears is great because, at least for me, sitting in the chair holding in all of the anxiety only made things 10 times worse! As far as sitting with the anxiety, it's honestly something that I'm still learning to do. As you probably know, I'd like to get up and scream and run around in circles lol, but I'm starting to realize that no matter how uncomfortable it gets, it's just that....uncomfortable. It's not going to kill me. I really hope that bit of advice helps you with your future appointments! Best of luck to you! And remember...you CAN do this! :)
 
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