If you’re someone who experiences health anxiety, you know how debilitating it can be. Constantly worrying about your health can take a toll on your mental and physical wellbeing. But there are ways to deal with health anxiety. Here are some tips.
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Health anxiety is a condition where a person becomes excessively worried about their health, to the point where it interferes with their daily life. The worry is often out of proportion to the actual risk of developing a health problem, and can be difficult to control.
There are a number of things that can trigger health anxiety, such as seeing a loved one become ill, experiencing a traumatic event, or having a family history of illness. Some people may also be more prone to anxiety in general.
While there is no cure for health anxiety, there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, and medication. With treatment, most people are able to live normal, healthy lives.
What is health anxiety?
Health anxiety is when a person obsesses over the idea that they are sick or may become sick. People with health anxiety may have Google searches and multiple books on their shelf about all the possible diseases they could have. They may also spend a lot of time on WebMD looking up their symptoms. Health anxiety can be’s ever-present and can get in the way of work, school, and relationships.
Why do people experience health anxiety?
There are a number of reasons why people may experience health anxiety. It may be due to a specific event, such as a family member or friend being diagnosed with a serious illness. It may also be due to stressful life events, such as job loss or relationship problems. Some people may have a history of anxiety or other mental health problems. And, finally, some research suggests that there may be a genetic component to health anxiety.
The impact of health anxiety
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. Health anxiety is when someone is excessively worried about their health, to the point where it interferes with their daily life. People with health anxiety may fixate on a specific health concerns, or have a general sense of unease about their health.
While it’s normal to worry about your health from time to time, people with health anxiety experience these worries to a much greater degree. They may find themselves constantly checking for symptoms, googling their symptoms, or seeking reassurance from doctors. This can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety, which can impact different areas of life, including work, relationships, and sleep. If you think you may be experiencing health anxiety, it’s important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional.
Coping with health anxiety
If you suffer from health anxiety, you may constantly worry about your health and well-being. You may obsessively check your body for signs of illness, and you may even avoid seeking medical help for fear of what the doctor may find.
Dealing with health anxiety can be difficult, but there are some things you can do to cope with your anxiety and live a healthy, happy life.
Here are some tips for coping with health anxiety:
1. Try to stay calm and relaxed. When you feel anxious about your health, try to take some deep breaths and focus on staying calm. Relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation can also be helpful in managing anxiety.
2. Don’t obsessively check your body for signs of illness. If you’re constantly checking your body for signs of illness, you’re likely to find something that worries you, even if there’s nothing wrong. Try to resist the urge to check yourself and focus on something else instead.
3. Seek medical help when needed. If you’re worried about your health, it’s important to see a doctor so that they can put your mind at ease. Remember, doctors are there to help you, not harm you, so don’t be afraid to seek medical help when needed.
4. Talk to someone about your anxiety. Talking to someone about your anxiety can be helpful in managing it. Whether you talk to a friend or therapist, talking about your anxiety can help you feel better and might even help reduce it over time.
When to seek professional help
If you have health anxiety, you may benefit from professional help. A therapist can help you understand and manage your anxiety.
Therapists who treat anxiety disorders typically recommend one of two types of treatment: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or exposure therapy.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you understand how your thoughts and beliefs about your health are affecting your emotions and behavior. You’ll learn to identify and change inaccurate or unhelpful thoughts and beliefs. You’ll also learn how to manage stress and cope with anxiety-provoking situations.
Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing yourself to the things that trigger your anxiety. This can help you become less afraid of your triggers and more tolerant of anxiety-provoking situations. Exposure therapy is usually done in gradual steps, starting with the least anxiety-provoking situation and working up to the most anxiogenic situation.
Your therapist will work with you to determine which type of therapy is best for you.
Health anxiety and COVID-19
Anxiety about your health is common, especially during times of uncertainty. The outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus) is causing many people to feel anxious about their health and the health of their loved ones.
There are some simple things you can do to help manage your anxiety:
– Get the facts. When you have accurate information, it can help reduce anxiety and dispel some of the myths and rumors that may be circulating.
– Limit your exposure to news and social media. Too much exposure to news and social media can fuel anxiety. Try to limit yourself to a couple of trusted sources of information and take breaks from following the news closely.
– Take care of yourself. Be sure to get plenty of rest, exercise, and eat healthy foods. These self-care activities can help reduce stress and improve your overall sense of well-being.
– Talk to someone you trust. Talking about your anxiety can help relieve some of the tension you’re feeling. If you don’t have someone you feel comfortable talking to, consider finding a support group or seeing a therapist.
Tips for managing health anxiety
If you suffer from health anxiety, you may be all too familiar with the feeling of constantly worrying about your health. Whether it’s obsessively checking for symptoms or Googling possible diagnoses, health anxiety can take over your life and make it difficult to function.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to manage your health anxiety and get back to living your life. Here are a few tips:
1. Understand what health anxiety is.
Health anxiety is a type of anxiety that is characterized by excessive worry about one’s health. People with health anxiety may worry about contracting a disease or illness, even if they are healthy. They may also obsessively check for symptoms, often to the point of self-diagnosis.
2. Don’t self-diagnose.
One of the worst things you can do when you have health anxiety is self-diagnose. Googling symptoms can lead to a never-ending cycle of worry and can make your anxiety worse. If you’re worried about your health, the best thing to do is see a doctor so they can put your mind at ease.
3. Challenge negative thoughts.
When you have health anxiety, it’s common to have negative thoughts about your health. For example, you may convince yourself that every headache means you have a brain tumor, or that every fatigue is a sign of cancer. It’s important to challenge these negative thoughts by asking yourself whether they are really true or not. In most cases, they are not true and are just products of your anxiety.
FAQs about health anxiety
Q: What is health anxiety?
A: Health anxiety is a form of anxiety that is characterized by excessive worry about one’s health. People with health anxiety may be fixated on a particular health concern or may worry about a variety of health issues.
Q: What are the symptoms of health anxiety?
A: Symptoms of health anxiety can vary, but may include constant worry about one’s health, preoccupation with bodily symptoms, avoidance of medical care, and excessive self-monitoring. Other symptoms may include insomnia, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
Q: How does health anxiety differ from other types of anxiety?
A: Health anxiety differs from other types of anxiety in that it is specifically focused on worries about one’s health. Other types of anxiety may be focused on worries about other aspects of life, such as work or finances.
Q: What causes health anxiety?
A: The exact cause of health anxiety is not known, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People with a family history of anxiety or other mental health disorders may be at increased risk for developing health anxiety. Additionally, people who have had previous negative experiences with their own health (e.g., a serious illness) or the health of a loved one may also be more likely to develop this type of anxiety.
Q: How is health anxiety treated?
A: Health anxiety is typically treated with a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps people to identify and change the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to their anxieties. Medication can be used to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, such as agitation and insomnia.
Resources for further reading
If you’re interested in learning more about health anxiety, below are some suggested resources for further reading.
-The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne
-The Truth About Anxiety by Charles Linden
-The Chemistry of Calm by Henry Emmons
-Anxiety: Panicking about Panic by Michelle Petrie
These books offer helpful information on understanding and dealing with health anxiety.