White coat syndrome is a real thing. Don’t let anyone tell you differently! White coat syndrome is when your blood pressure skyrockets or increases because you are seeing a doctor or medical professional. I personally experience white coat syndrome as do a lot of other people. It is very common! I know this about myself, so I have to preface with the nurse who begins every appointment by taking my blood pressure that it is not normally this high. It is because I am nervous.
I am a little concerned about having this syndrome because the doctors are never really getting a fair baseline when I'm actually relaxed (which is what they want). Doctors need to look at it from my perspective which is that I’m at the doctor’s for a reason; usually, I am not feeling well or have some unpleasant symptoms. I didn’t just decide to “stop by” to say hello or to chit chat with them!
When you leave me sitting in a stark white room and I’m left there for who knows how long, I have nothing to do but think about what I want to say and how I want to address everything in that short time I am in front of the doctor. It also doesn’t help when a doctor makes me feel rushed because they are behind or have “too many” patients to see for the day. Am I going to have to rattle off my list quickly to make sure I get everything in or can I have a dialogue about what really is going on? As I sit there, I am also thinking about what the doctor might say and how I want to respond or questions that I might need to ask. So yes, I am a little anxious, and yes my blood pressure is going to indicate that fact!
Doctors need to realize that this is a real thing and figure out how to make their patients feel more relaxed. Personally, I think that they should take the blood pressure after you have talked with the doctor and addressed your fears and concerns. I know I feel more relaxed after discussing issues with my doctor. I know that I presented my problems, and we are hopefully trying to reach a solution.
So here’s how I manage my white coat syndrome and I recommend you do this as well if you experience this problem too. I bought myself a blood pressure monitor. I take my blood pressure, and I track it to make sure it's not as high as when I am in the doctors. This way when they ask me if this is normal for me, I can tell them that it is just nerves. I can then tell them that it regularly averages between the low 100s over the mid-70s.
It is crucial to track and monitor your blood pressure. You can easily keep a log of the date, time, and the reading. You can even bring this to the doctor’s to show them. You should also know what your average reading is in the morning versus the evening. Your evening reading is usually higher than the morning one because you have gone through the day and have encountered daily stressors. You should know what is normal for you for both the morning and evening. That way if something seems out of the ordinary, you can follow-up with your doctors and explain what has been going on.
I get uneasy with doctors, if you've read my road to diagnosis, you will understand why. Doctors stress me out and make me anxious because a lot of them did not believe me and disregarded my signs and symptoms. To be honest, I don’t have a lot of faith in doctors. I feel as though I have fallen through the cracks, and it makes me angry, disappointed, and fearful.