Scanxiety: How to Manage Nerves During a Diagnostic MRI Scan

Scanxiety: How to Manage Nerves During a Diagnostic MRI Scan on

MRIs can trigger your anxiety and claustrophobia, but these tips can help you relax

Do you experience panic or anxiety at the mere thought of an MRI? While these procedures are vital for diagnosing a wide range of issues, the small space and moving parts have been known to trigger claustrophobia. With these tips, however, you can get through an MRI with less stress, less anxiety, and less claustrophobia.

Ask question after question after question…

The first step you can take for combating anxiety and claustrophobia is to get as deep of an understanding as you possibly can, which comes through asking questions. Ask your doctor about MRI technology, about the noise and vibrations you will experience, and about the average length of the procedure. People tend to fear the unknown, but if you are fully informed on MRI machines, you’re more likely to relax.

Bring a loved one along for the procedure

One of the best ways to relieve anxiety is to have a loved one come with you to the procedure. They don’t need to be a cheerleader, they simply need to be calming presence. And while they won’t be in the room with you when the scan actually takes place, knowing they’re there when you get out can be a comforting thought.

Control your breathing

This is possibly the single most effective and simple relaxation technique, used by a wide range of people for all sorts of anxieties. Breathe slowly inward through your nose and exhale in a calm manner through your mouth. While slowly breathing in, count all the way to ten, then exhale in the same manner. This will slow down your breathing and help you stay calm, cool, and relaxed.

Go to your happy place

If you’ve ever seen the Adam Sandler movie Happy Gilmore, then you know what this is all about. Think about a place where you are the happiest. This can be a real location, like a vacation cabin that you visit every summer, or an imaginary spot, say, a far-off tropical beach. Focus all of your attention on that spot, thinking of every detail and color that comes to mind, from fluttering birds to the soft touch of a warm breeze. The more you focus on your happy place, the less you’re thinking about the MRI machine.

Listen to music if possible

Whether you love hip hop, country, jazz, rock, or classical, your favorite music can help calm your nerves and sooth your soul. Talk to the MRI clinic that you will be visiting and ask about bringing in your music player with some ear buds. Having the familiar sounds of your favorite musician could help you overcome MRI anxiety.

Consider medication (but only as a last resort)

If you suffer from severe claustrophobia and anxiety, or if the basic relaxation methods simply aren’t enough to get you through the procedure, you may need to consider prescription medication. Talk to your doctor about potential options and see if they would recommend this type of relief for you.

However, don’t forget that any and all drugs need to be cleared by your MRI professionals. Drugs and medications could disrupt the scanning procedure, so every decision must be discussed with the MRI team.

Get clear, reliable advice for MRIs and other imaging procedures

If you’re nervous about getting an MRI done, or are concerned for a patient with severe claustrophobia, contact POM MRI & Imaging Centers today. Our patient-first focus ensures that every diagnostic scan is a quick and comfortable experience.

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