Toronto Doctor for Someone Scared of Doctors
June 26, 2014 5:56 AM   Subscribe

I’m looking for a General Practitioner in the Downtown/Western Toronto area who is both accepting new patients and sensitive to issues of medical anxiety. Much much more inside.

I have pretty severe medical anxiety that manifests as both hypochondria and fear of visiting doctors. It gets so bad that I have been medicated for it in the past. Right now, it’s in remission, but I have avoided seeing any doctors for the past two years and do not currently have a GP.

So, here’s where it gets really embarrassing. I was diagnosed with a pretty serious (potentially long-term life-threatening) medical condition two years ago and skipped all my follow-up appointments due to anxiety, instead just pretending that it didn’t exist. I have been fortunate that there have no obvious manifestations of it worsening, but I feel pretty stupid and would like to do those follow-ups now.

Also, I have no less than three troubling physical conditions/symptoms that have started recently that I’m pretty sure are unrelated to the aforementioned illness. I would be open to a doctor telling me that these are just manifestations of my anxiety, but would NOT be open to a doctor simply dismissing them as such. In fact, super helpfully, one of the manifestations of my hypochondria is a worry that I (and my doctor) will dismiss symptoms of something serious as being just an anxiety reaction.

So, I really need to find a GP who will help me get specialist referral for my known existing condition (and I will probably need new referrals probably because I got my original referral from an ER doctor) and who will also help me deal with my new concerns in a way sensitive to my anxiety issues. And of course, something like 95% of doctors in Toronto are not accepting new patients.

What would be even better would be if there was such a thing as a specialist GP for people with serious mental anxiety that I could get referred to, but I don’t think that exists.

posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
First, you should call the Ontario College of Physicians Surgeons and speak to someone to see if they can recommend someone skilled in these issues. You might consider asking if there are any team-based GPs who might be a good fit. A team-based approach in which the GP would be in close contact with specialists could help ensure that your specialists are similarly sensitive to your anxiety and that nobody drops the ball if your fear causes you to miss appointments or tests.

Second, you mention wanting a GP and you definitely need to see one immediately if you were diagnosed with a potentially dangerous illness. However, you should also consider requesting a referral to a psychiatrist (which OHIP will cover) or another mental health professional specialzing in anxiety and phobias (if you have other benefits to cover it). When you find a GP they will likely suggest this, too, and probably refer you to someone, but why not get a jump on it? In the long run you will need to do this.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:35 AM on June 26, 2014

A different tack might be to start with a psychiatrist, who is a doctor, who can help you address your anxiety and then you can be freer in your relationship with the gp you end up with. This could be a bit complicated as you may need to see a gp to get a referral to a psychiatrist... but if you decided to try it this way... then you'd just ask any old gp for a referral to a psych for anxiety and not delve in to the rest of your history. This is just my thoughts on giving you an extra option.

Congratulations on facing this. It's really tough, and not a small step. Well done, be proud of your bravery.
posted by taff at 6:36 AM on June 26, 2014

This great that you are tackling this but I agree that you should first tackle the anxiety, THEN get a GP. CAMH may have someone if you call, or the Canadian Mental Health Organisation may find a caseworker for you. I fear making just a GP appointment without a built-in support system may be setting yourself up for failure.
posted by saucysault at 6:53 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

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