Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My own private living room.

Today I came across this study about researchers from DePaul University who found that people with mental illness or emotional distress received better care in an alternative recovery-oriented, homelike environment instead of a traditional emergency room.

All the people out there with white-coat syndrome and anxiety disorders are like, “Well, duh…yeah!”

“No one likes going to the doctor,” people used to tell me when I attempted to open up about my fear of being in medical environments. For a while my anxiety was so bad that I could hardly sit still in the waiting room or the exam room. Sometimes, I'd just leave and go cry in my car, thinking I was nuts.

I recall many times when I thought that I could handle being told I had some horrible disease if the doctor told me at home…just not in that office.

It kind of comes as no surprise that they would find that this setting helped more. Even if you don’t have a phobia of needles or white coats, being in the ER sucks. I’ve never had to go for my own treatment and imagine that if I was there for a mental-related problem, it would be 10 times worse. Waiting to see a doctor for two hours is okay when you need a stitch or something…but it can’t put a bandage on an emotional problem. Especially one that can’t wait. I imagine many people simply don’t seek treatment in a crisis because they know what the emergency room is like.

I like that this study is out there. It’s not necessarily out there because there are people like me that are able to calm down more in a less-sterile setting. But it does show that I’m not alone in feeling more receptive to treatment in a “living room” type of environment. That’s been huge to being able to take care of myself.

This is why it was imperative for me to seek out great doctors that had soothing environments. Now I can relax a little more and discuss the things that need attention instead of staring at white walls or dirty stainless steel. Those things really affected me in the past.

If you’re a self-proclained medi-phobe like me, seek out environments that you feel comfortable in. While the ER may never look like a living room and you may find yourself in a stuffy doctor’s office now and then, you can still find doctors who care as much about their settings as they do their patients. When I think about it, my dentist’s office emulates a spa and my primary care doctor does her exams in her office–and lets me sit in a normal chair to talk before she puts me on one of those tables that always stick to me. Doctors like that are the ones that will help you get the attention and care you deserve.

If you’ve ever felt like a warmer environment would make your medical experience better, seek it out. When you find a doctor who provides it, it’s not nearly as scary as going to the doctor used to be.

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