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Overcoming the Fear of Sitting Down With a Psychiatrist

Having a fear of seeing a psychiatrist is a common feeling that stems from both sides of the equation. You may think that having problems is a sign of weakness. You may also feel embarrassed to see a psychiatrist. You might even be afraid that someone may find out that you’ve been to a psychiatrist. In any case, rest assured that you can overcome your fear and get help.

How to Overcome Fear

Fear often results from a traumatic experience. An individual with post-traumatic stress disorder may experience flashbacks or have bad dreams. But these symptoms occur because of something that has already happened. When you make a decision to see a psychiatrist for the first time, your fear likely lies elsewhere.

Uncertainty or the fear of the unknown is a powerful emotion. We don’t like surprises of the unpleasant sort. And there’s a good reason based on evolution that explains this phenomenon. Every day, we use what are called heuristics (or mental shortcuts) to get through our day. We don’t have the time or energy to thoroughly think through every decision we’re forced to make, so our minds try to “cut to the chase” by acting on these mental shortcuts. Seeing a psychiatrist is a foreign and unfamiliar action for most people, so their heuristics compel them to avoid it.

Determine What You Fear

The first step in overcoming your fear is to identify it. Once you know what it is, you can then realistically manage your fear. Once part of the unknown becomes clear, then some degree of certainty is restored.

To overcome your fear of sitting down with a psychiatrist, begin by asking yourself why you would dread the interaction. Is it ridicule or admonishment? Are you afraid that you are mentally ill? Or are you worried about someone finding out? Then ask yourself if each one is a reasonable fear or not.

Approach this task in a matter-of-fact way. Avoid following the story of each fear to an unreasonable conclusion. Stick with the facts as you know them. Therein lies your power. While there are many things you can’t control, you can decide how you approach seeing a psychiatrist.

Experience is the Best Teacher

We’ve all experienced terrifying situations. You may have memories of scary experiences from early in your life that have lingered into adulthood. These memories carry significant weight because they may contain the key to overcoming your fear of seeing a psychiatrist. Think back to a similar situation. Maybe you have an unpleasant memory of going to the dentist or the principal’s office. From there, remember how you successfully handled the situation. The act of recalling a victory over a similar unknown can be empowering as you approach your first therapy session. Remind yourself that you encountered something frightening and overcame it. These experiences are a proven track record of your ability to overcome difficult situations.

Follow the Positive Waves

You’ll likely also find comfort in thinking about the benefits of seeing a psychiatrist. Successful therapy can improve your life in incredible ways, increasing your confidence, self-esteem, and overall happiness. Seeking professional help will give you the tools you need to pin down the causes of your distress and anxiety, manage them, and improve your quality of life. Do everything in your power to focus on the positive potential outcomes of seeking treatment.

Be Your Own Best Friend

When going through hard times, it also pays to think about how you would treat a friend in a similar situation. If your friend told you she needed to see a therapist, you’d likely support her decision. If she told you of her fears of the unknown, you’d try to assure her that reaching out to a psychiatrist is a wise choice.

Too often our self-talk is harsh and demeaning. It may be the same case here when considering seeing a psychiatrist. But just like you would reassure your friend, strive to shut down those negative thoughts and concentrate on how incredibly beneficial seeking professional help will be. You needn’t tackle your problems alone.


People sometimes fear seeing a psychiatrist because they’re afraid of what others will think. An important thing to remember is that psychiatrists are duty-bound to keep your sessions confidential. And it differs significantly from talking with a friend. You can speak freely to a psychiatrist without fear of how they might react. You can be yourself and say whatever is on your mind without fear of reprisal. Being able to get everything out in the open reduces the number of nagging thoughts that can send you down a path of negative thinking.

Overcoming your fear of sitting down with a psychiatrist means facing the unknown. Fortunately, embracing that uncertainty can free you from the power it has over you. In the iconic words of FDR, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” It is fear that keeps us from seeking help when we need it most.

Call or message us today to make an appointment and pave your way towards a brighter future.

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Helene A. Miller / And Other Providers
Family Psychiatry and Therapy brings compassion, understanding, and skilled care to patients throughout New Jersey. Our team of mental health professionals focuses on providing a positive and uplifting experience that aids our patients in facing life’s toughest challenges.