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Feeling anxious about getting a diagnosis?

January 23, 2023
Kiera Benson

Waiting for test results or to see a specialist, coupled with a fear of getting a difficult diagnosis, may trigger anxious feelings about their health and how this could potentially affect your job, family or routine. The uncertainty means your mind will probably play out numerous possible scenarios. In the meantime, you could start feeling tense, have trouble sleeping at night, find yourself being nervous or preoccupied thinking about the outcome.


To make a diagnosis, your doctor might ask you about the feelings, thoughts and behaviours you’re experiencing, how long you’ve been feeling this way, the impact this has at home, school or work and any changes to your physical health. It’s important to know that even though lots of people can have the same diagnosis, they might all experience their condition differently. If you’ve received a difficult diagnosis, whether physical or psychological, and are feeling fearful about what the future has in store, we’ve written this blog with some helpful tips to ease your mind.

If you’ve experienced something similar, you’re not alone. Remember that getting treatment for symptoms is important – whether psychological or physical. Getting a diagnosis can help you to understand your feelings, know there is a name for what you’ve been experiencing, feel a sense of relief, find more information about your condition and the right support and treatments designed to help with your diagnosis, and connect with other who have similar experiences.  

A diagnosis is one way of explaining what you’re experiencing, but it doesn’t need to define who you are. Below are some tips to make taking the first step on your journey to feeling better even more manageable.

Avoid random Googling. Be wary of searching your symptoms and trying to self-diagnose online. Some of the information, if from unreliable sources, can be incorrect and misleading. Jumping to conclusions or making quick judgments could also start a negative thought spiral. Remember that your doctor is a healthcare professional and will provide you with options when you meet them.

Practice calming methods. While you’re waiting for a diagnosis, it’s common to feel impatient, frustrated, angry or anxious. Distract yourself from the thoughts by doing something you enjoy and find relaxing just before your visit, like scrolling through your photos, listening to soothing music, an audiobook or podcast.

Communicate honestly. Sometimes it can be hard to start a conversation with your doctor about your mental health. You can use this Start the Conversation Checklist from as a starting point. Remember the doctor is on your side and are not there to judge. They will be able to guide and reassure you throughout the appointment. You can even mention that you felt anxiety about visiting and getting a diagnosis.  

If you feel nervous about opening up about your experiences, remember that the appointment will help you identify exactly what you’re dealing with so that you feel much more in control of your health when you walk out the door, with a better idea of how you can care for yourself.

Prepare for your next appointment. Make sure you’re ready to gather all the information and advice you need because you might not have very long with your doctor. Do you have any worries, feelings or questions? Could your friends or family come up with anything you haven’t thought of? It can be hard to take everything in when you’re under stress, feeling emotional or afraid. Plan to bring someone with you to your appointment if you can and lean on their support.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, it may be time to seek professional support. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can equip you with techniques and strategies to manage your feelings. Find out more about how it works here.

ieso Online Therapy
This blog has been written by a member of the clinical team at ieso.
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