5 Tips to Minimize Radiology Test Anxiety

One of the most challenging parts of having an imaging exam (or any medical test) is waiting for the results. This can cause radiology test anxiety. It’s easy to imagine a negative outcome, and it can be challenging if you don’t know when or how you’ll get the results. At American Radiology Associates,  we want you to have the tools you need to feel calmer and more in control of your healthcare decisions. So, we’ve got five ways to help reduce anxiety and worry while you wait for imaging test results.

Many patients experience fear, anxiety, and worry while waiting for imaging test results. It’s a completely normal and understandable feeling. In fact, this feeling is so common that it has a name: scanxiety.

But there are ways to help yourself feel more relaxed, aware, and in control while you wait.  Whether it’s an MRI, CT scan, x-ray, ultrasound, PET scan, biopsy, or other test, waiting for results can be stressful. Here are some things we suggest to help reduce anxiety while you wait.

Remember that radiology test anxiety is normal

Waiting for imaging test results can be a significant and stressful experience. If you feel worried, anxious, or stressed, take comfort in knowing that your feelings are normal and experienced by many people. Naming and acknowledging your feelings can help you make strides toward calming them. Don’t be afraid to seek support from family, friends, or even professionals while you wait. 

Don’t assume the worst

Just because your doctor ordered an imaging exam for you does not mean they have a diagnosis in mind. Often, the opposite is true. Imaging is ordered to provide doctors with more data and information about you and your body. Try to avoid assuming something is wrong with you. Providers order an exam to rule out an unlikely disease or condition or out of an abundance of caution. Negative thinking and automatically assuming something dire have been shown to have harmful effects on long-term outcomes for patients. 

Take steps to feel more in control

While waiting for medical test results, it’s easy to feel powerless. And that powerlessness, or lack of control, can make you feel anxious. But try to remember you can influence your emotions, reactions, and your treatment plan. When meeting with your doctor, take notes to help you remember what you discussed. Ask questions about the exam and when you will get the results. Ask exactly how you’ll receive the results, whether by phone call, in person, or by email. Just knowing when and how to expect results can help you feel more calm and in control.

Limit how much you look up online

The internet is full of information about diseases, conditions, and exam results – none of which may apply to you. Much of the information you find might be wrong or misleading. All the information you read on our American Radiology Associates blog is vetted by our expert team, but not all sites have the same standards. It’s best to talk directly with your doctor; they know you, your history, your body, and the circumstances that lead to your imaging needs.

Stick to your daily routine

If you’re waiting for test results, be sure to do the things you normally enjoy. Spend time with family and friends, pursue your favorite hobbies, and keep your normal sleep schedule. A routine can ground you and help you maintain hope and perspective. Journaling, walking, or other calming practices can also be helpful.

At ARA, we know that waiting for imaging results can be difficult. We want you to rest easy knowing that your medical imaging will be studied and interpreted by a subspecialty-trained radiologist who is an expert at examining the particular parts of the body being studied – like the brain, the chest, or bones and joints. Not only will your images be read by someone with specialized knowledge, but all of our physicians are committed to working collaboratively with your doctor to ensure the best possible outcomes for you.

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