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anxiety about doctors appointment

I’ve got a doctors appointment booked for monday afternoon and I’m really anxious about it. I know that it’s possible that I don’t have MS but its also possible that I do. Also my sister has a holiday soon and I’ve got it into my head that I should wait until after in case it becomes clear that I could have MS and I ruin her holiday. I guess I need some reasurance that I’m being silly.

Hi Chris,

Well done for booking the appointment!

You will absolutely NOT get answers on Monday about whether you have MS or not. A GP is not qualified to diagnose MS, and even if they were, it’s not possible without extensive tests, and ruling everything else out. So absolutely NOBODY goes home with a diagnosis of MS, after visiting their surgery once.

The most you are likely to get out of it is that your symptoms merit further investigation - in which case an appropriate referral will be made - or else that they don’t, and are attributable to anxiety, or something else like that (in which case you may be offered help with the anxiety).

I suggest you do NOT confront the GP with your fears it might be MS, as most doctors’ hearts sink, when they get a “self-diagnoser” who’s trying to do their job for them. They are more likely to dismiss it as “health anxiety” if the patient goes in already convinced they have some serious disease, rather than just presenting a factual account of their symptoms.

Your own health really does need to take priority over your sister’s holiday, or her exams, or anything anyone else is doing. This is one area where you have to be grown-up, and accept responsibility, and not keep putting it off because there’s never a “right time” to be ill. Even if it was MS, for most people it’s months (if not longer) to get a definite answer, so your sister’s holiday, and most likely her exams (unless she’s on a very long course) will almost certainly be well out of the way before there’s any definite news.

Besides, thousands, if not millions of people have to deal with challenges such as a family member being ill - and sometimes much worse than that. If you did have anything serious, your sister would have to learn to get on with it - the same way thousands of others do. It’s very rare for anybody to die of MS, and most people will NOT need a wheelchair. So it would be unfortunate, but not the end of the world - you would NOT be announcing to your family that you have six months left to live, or anything as dramatic as that. Most people with MS have near normal life expectancy. My great aunt lived to 87 with it!

Anyway, we are still getting way ahead of ourselves, as so far, you have no medical opinion this is “likely” to be MS, having not even seen anyone yet.

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you are coming across as very anxious. I know anxiety in the face of unexplained symptoms is normal, but it also makes me wonder if at least some of your symptoms might be anxiety-related, as you’d be surprised how physically ill it can make you.

I think it’s possible your doctor might suggest anxiety is playing a part. If that should happen, and you are offered help with anxiety, please don’t dismiss it out-of-hand, as it would be interesting to see if symptoms calm down, or even disappear, if the anxiety is controlled.

Hope this helps,

Tina

x

Hi Chris. I’m with Tina on this, you may not have ms, the tests have to be done which takes ages so just try to relax and enjoy what you can do. Neurological symptoms are very difficult to put together for a diagnosis and it isn’t like a chest infection or broken bone that can be diagnosed with one xray. Anxiety definitely makes funny things happen in your body and the more you think about it, the worse it will get. Please go and see your doctor with a clear list of your symptoms, when they started, how often or when it happens and how each affects you, as well as what you can do to improve them Don’t go in with a specific diagnosis as like Tina said, they will just dismiss it as something you’ve researched and now see symptoms in every move you make. I wish you luck for Monday but until then keep busy and stop worrying. Min x

Hi Chris,

I am in a similar position to you, but a little bit further on with regards to tests. I first went to my doctor over a year ago, have had lots of tests, and am now waiting to speak to a neurologist about my latest test results. It is normal to feel quite anxious about this stuff I think.

I do agree with Min & Tina that anxiety is a very real possibility… not just for you but for many people (like me!) who are experiencing symptoms that may or may not be related to MS. Symptoms like the ones you describe would, from my understanding anyway, seem to plausably fit with MS… but also with lots of other things too. And sometimes once you’ve googled something (like MS!), or read about it, you start to interpret every sensation you experience through that lens. I know I do this! Honestly, looking back, lots of my symptoms appeared / got worse after I learned that they could be caused by MS. Now, maybe this is because I do have MS, and new symtoms are starting to appear… or maybe it’s because I’m really really anxious about it all, and anxiety is affecting my body by making it feel tired and achey and numb and tingly, and because now that I have the idea of MS niggling away at the back of my mind, I may very well be adding 2 and 2 and coming up with 5! I just don’t know anymore! But I think the important thing here is that we don’t need to be the ones to take the responsibility of figuring it out… that’s what doctors are for. All we can do is tell the doctors as factually as possible about the symptoms we experience. It’s their job to work out what is making us feel poorly, and they will work it out eventually.

So I guess what I’m saying is: you’re certainly not the only one to be feeling anxious about doctors appointments… it is normal to be anxious about it. But try to be open minded to all the possibilities too. Be prepared for your doctor to suggest other possibilities first, and be prepared to accept that there is a very real possibility that symptoms can be explained by less serious conditions (which is a good thing!). My doctor was initially most concerned to do tests for diabetes, anaemia and thyroid function, and then later did tests for vitaimin deficiencies and lots of other things. It took a while, and at times I have felt very frustrated!. Also, I got lots of questions about whether I thought my symptoms might be anxiety-related. I tried to be very honest about it, and said “yes, very possibly” because I am indeed prone to anxiety! Sometimes I have felt like my symptoms were being ‘ignored’ or ‘dismissed’ as “just” anxiety, but I now try really hard to remember that when a doctor suggests that symptoms may be anxiety-based, they are not saying that they think you are making it up, or malingering, or exagerating… they are just saying that anxiety is quite common and that when it is severe, it can cause very physical and disturbing symptoms, and therefore it is an important line of investigation. I would think that many people who experience MS-type symptoms are probably screened for anxiety before the doctor looks into testing for MS.

It is very diffiult not to obsess and ruminate about these worries once they are in your mind. All we can do is try to take one step at a time, and try our best not to not get ahead of ourselves and convince ourselves of the worst-case scenarios, because hopefully, (fingers crossed for both of us), it may not very well not be the case at all! xxx