Tips for Overcoming MRI Anxiety

Feeling anxious about having an MRI is extremely common. However, experts agree that for most people, this anxiety can be managed. The following tips may help ease MRI anxiety and make the experience a positive one.


  • Opt for an open MRI. Open MRIs are becoming increasingly common. Websites such as offer this type of imaging which can make the testing process much easier for those uncomfortable with confined spaces.
  • Ask for a tour. Having a chance to look at the MRI machine and familiarize you with the testing environment can go a long way toward easing anxiety. Many facilities will be more than happy to give you a tour and show you the machine if you call ahead and ask.
  • Understand the test procedure. Knowing exactly how the test works and what is going to happen is also a good way to help calm pre-test nerves. Speak with the tech and make sure you understand the testing procedure from start to finish. Do not be afraid to ask any and all questions you may have about the test and what you will experience. For instance, many MRIs require IV contrast halfway through. This can be quite a surprise if you weren’t informed ahead of time.
  • Know your options. In some cases, you may be able to enter the machine feet first, lay on your stomach or turn your head to the side. The alternate positions can help your feel less claustrophobic. If these options aren’t available to you, you may also check to see if your facility offers glasses you can wear so you can watch a television show or movie during your MRI.
  • Listen to music. Many facilities offer the option to listen to music while having your MRI. While you can’t bring your phone into the MRI machine with you, you can bring along your own CD or choose your own radio station to listen to over the facilities specialize headphones.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Deep breathing, praying, mediation and visualization can all be extremely helpful – if you can do them over the loud sounds of the MRI.


If these tips aren’t quite enough to get you through, you may need the help of a medical professional who can prescribe a light anti-anxiety medication for you to take before the MRI. Alternatively, speaking to a licensed mental health professional can also be helpful.

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