Here’s a story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about a woman whose phobia of doctors and “medical settings” caused her to overlook the growth of a uterine fibroid, a “benign [tumor] composed of muscle and connective tissue that develop within or along the uterine wall.” Her tumor had grown so large that she appeared to be seven months pregnant.

Interestingly, her phobia doesn’t seem to have been directly connected with a fear of disease. Rather, it was doctors, hospitals and the like that caused her anxiety, which manifested in the form of a panic attack. Most of us deal with a fear of disease, which in turn often translates to a fear of death, and this usually have two outcomes: 1) We seek a doctor’s assistance more often in the hopes that it’ll allay our fears; or 2) We avoid doctors because the thought of discovering illness is enough to provoke anxiety.

If you fall into the first category, here’s a bit of advice: You should always see a doctor when you’re concerned about serious health problems, but once you’ve done so, you have to let it go. You can visit a doctor every week and your fears would still not be contained. Constantly seeking reassurance only encourages anxiety and allows it take root. You have to find the strength to resist the urge to run to the doctor every time you sneeze. Try to be rational about it by explaining your symptoms to an unbiased third-party.

If you’re a member of the second category, try to keep regular doctor’s appointments regardless of how you feel. This allows you to experience the doctor’s office without the fear of discovering a terrible illness. If you were to visit only when you’re experiencing high anxiety, then you’ll quickly associate the doctor with high anxiety.