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MRI Anxiety? How To Manage Health Test Anxiety With Hypnosis
Are you preparing for an MRI scan?
Health tests such as MRI scans can be a vital form of diagnosis, early detection and preventative care for a longer and improved quality of life.
Health scans and tests can be positively life-changing, but they can also cause anxiety. My Harley Street neighbours, Echelon Health, understand the importance of personal health assessments and preventative care but recognise that health tests can make some of their clients nervous. To help, I’ve partnered with the health assessment provider to offer MRI anxiety hypnosis and support their clients with hypnotherapy to reduce health test anxiety.
Is MRI Anxiety Common?
Around 5% of the population have health anxiety, which can increase when preparing for health tests.
Furthermore, around 13% of people report feeling anxious or panicky before an MRI, while there is a term known as ‘scanxiety’ for those fearing forthcoming health scans, which most frequently occurs in those undergoing cancer treatment.
MRIs can also be uncomfortable for those with claustrophobia, affecting around 10% of the UK population.
So, if you’re expecting an MRI or other health tests or want to start 2022 with a personal health assessment for preventative care but feel nervous, here are a few ways to manage MRI anxiety and health test fears.
Top Tips To Manage MRI Anxiety
Before your treatment, it can help to practise breathing exercises that you can use throughout your appointment. Shallow, rapid breathing can increase your anxiety, so practising slow, deep and mindful breaths can help to relax you. It may be useful to try a range of exercises to see which one is best for you:
- Alternate nostril breathing – Close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale through your left nostril, then close your left nostril with your finger, open and exhale through your right nostril. Then reverse the action to close your left nostril and inhale through the right. Repeat the whole round 10 times before taking a break and breathe normally.
- Box breathing – This rhythmic breathing follows a square pattern, breathe in for four counts, hold your breath for four counts, breathe out for four and hold empty for four counts. If counting to four is too long, try starting with two or three counts instead.
- 4-7-8 breathing – this exercise is great for the nervous system; start by sitting upright. Then, inhale through your nose for four counts, hold your breath for seven counts and then exhale through the mouth for a count of eight. Try to make a whooshing sound as you exhale.
It may sound simple, but counting backwards throughout the appointment can help to distract you. Try to count slowly. It may seem boring, but monotony can be soothing and can pass the time quickly.
Recount Happy Memories
Close your eyes and visualise your favourite place and immerse your senses there. What are five things you can see there? Can you name four things you can touch? What three things can you hear in your happy place? What are two things you can smell? Finally, what one thing can you taste there?
Speak To The Practitioners
Clinics understand MRI anxiety and will try to support you. For example, Echelon Health offers open and upright MRI scanners if you feel claustrophobic. You can also ask the technicians to talk to you throughout the scan or for music to be played. You may prefer to bring a loved one in to chat with. If you’re feeling nervous, don’t suffer in silence. Speak to the team, and they’ll work with you to make the scan as comfortable as possible for you.
Research suggests that hypnotherapy can be an effective way of reducing medical, pre-test, and scan anxiety. In one study, 75% overcame their fear of scans. Another study has found that hypnotherapy can be a valid alternative to sedation for MRI scans. What’s more, hypnotherapy doesn’t have the side effects that pharmacological methods have, which means clients can safely drive home after their appointment.
If you’d like to find out more, I’ve partnered with Echelon Health to provide medical hypnotherapy to support clients with MRI anxiety. To find out more, contact me at [email protected] or contact the health assessment team at Echelon Health at [email protected].