How To Get Through An MRI With Claustrophobia

When you have claustrophobia, needing to get an MRI can be a daunting task. Just the thought of going through an MRI gives many people panic attacks. Approximately 9% of people have clinically diagnosed claustrophobia, however, it is common for most people to experience some claustrophobic feelings during an MRI. Luckily, the option of utilizing an open MRI is a good compromise for these people. With an open MRI, you won’t be closed in, and you can still see around you. This lets a lot of people feel better and can help evade these feelings of claustrophobia. Here are some other things you can do to get through an MRI with claustrophobia. 

Ask Questions

The unknown is always scary. However, by asking questions you can get a better understanding of what lays ahead. Your doctor will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have. They can explain the process, so you know what to expect. Fear is often caused by the unknown, so by asking questions, you can know what to expect. 

Look at the MRI Machine Before the Test

Some doctors will let you schedule a tour of the MRI room before your appointment, so you can go and see the machine. If this option is available, take a look at the MRI machine before you get in, so you know what to expect. If you can’t get in, google pictures or look on the doctor’s website. Having an idea of what the MRI machine looks like, will help you become more familiar and comfortable with it.

Listen to Music

One of the benefits of an open MRI is that you can use headphones. Take this opportunity to play your favorite music and get in a good mood. If music is not your forte, try a podcast or listening to a book. Whatever it is that will work for you, let your mind wander elsewhere and make the most of this time. 

Breath, Meditate or Pray

Try breathing exercises, meditation, or praying to keep calm. Focus on the activity to keep your mind off of the MRI. Before going to your appointment, look up some breathing exercises and other calming activities. Practice these exercises before you go, so you have an easier time utilizing these methods when you get to your appointment. 

Ask Your Doctor About Medication

Sometimes medication is the best option, especially if you have clinically diagnosed claustrophobia. Talk to your doctor before your MRI appointment to see what’s best for you.

Try Aromatherapy

Some scents like lavender can be calming. Other scents, like a loved one’s perfume or cologne, can also be reassuring and calming. Try spraying the scent of your choice on a pillow, or wearing your favorite scent when going in for an MRI. This can help you feel grounded and give you the extra reassurance you may need. 

Always Let Your Doctor Know

Let your doctor know beforehand if you are claustrophobic or have anxiety about getting an MRI. They can often help you by making special accommodations and will know to watch for a panic attack or other issues that may arise. You can also get support by inviting a close family member or friend to join the room with you. This will need to be approved by your doctor beforehand, so communication is important. 

By utilizing these tips, a scary MRI experience can turn into a tolerable or even enjoyable experience. To learn more about open MRIs, you can read about them here. At Medical Imaging Express, we are happy to have this technology that helps patients with claustrophobia. To schedule an appointment or learn more, contact us.