Understanding Health Anxiety

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Image courtesy of Kai Schreiber – https://flic.kr/p/24LYYq

We all feel anxious about our health from time to time, for example, when waiting for test results or going for an operation. However, when worrying about your physical and mental health becomes constant and overwhelming, you could have health anxiety.

People who suffer from this form of anxiety usually jump to the conclusion that any symptom they feel is linked to a serious illness. In other words, they catastrophize the situation. They are also often preoccupied with their future health; worrying that they will be diagnosed with cancer or heart disease, for example.

All forms of anxiety can be debilitating if ignored. It is important to understand the root of your worries and take necessary steps to manage your anxiety so that you can get the best quality of life.

Why do people suffer from health anxiety?

There isn’t one answer to this, but you could be suffering from health anxiety because of one or more of the following reasons:

  • You may be someone who is prone to worrying, making you vulnerable to health anxiety.
  • You may have grown up with someone who has health anxiety, a parent or sibling for example, and these worries may have passed on to you.
  • You may be going through a stressful period in you life.
  • You may know someone who is suffering from a serious illness, making you worry about your own health.

Common behaviors

People who suffer from health anxiety tend to fall into two camps. Those that constantly seek reassurance about their health or those that avoid anything that makes them think about it. Both are unhelpful behaviors. If you are always asking your doctor to do tests or searching for a diagnosis using the internet, this will only fuel your anxieties. Avoiding anything health-related will do exactly the same. The more you try and stay away from it, the more of an issue it becomes in your head. It’s important to learn about helpful behaviors like if a symptom persists for two weeks, ask your doctor for advice. Leave any diagnosis to the professionals. They are qualified in internal medicine and are there for your welfare. Self-diagnosing using the internet will undoubtedly make you more anxious.

What help is there?

There are many ways you can deal with health anxiety. What works for one person may not work for the next, so it is important to discuss the options with your doctor and find one or more that work for you.

  • One of the most effective treatments for anxiety is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. This form of therapy aims to challenge the thinking and behavior patterns associated with your worries.
  • There are some medication options. If your anxiety is linked to another mental health condition, such as depression, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants. If you suffer from panic attacks as a result of your anxiety, you may be prescribed beta blockers.
  • There are also a number of self-help techniques you can try that have proven effective for many people. These include yoga, meditation, breathing and mindfulness.

We hope you have found this article helpful.

 

 


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