What is health anxiety?
Whilst anxiety is a basic, fundamental emotion we all experience from time to time, people suffering from health anxiety frequently worry about their health and fear that they have a serious physical illness, when there is often no reason to think this.
This excessive anxiety causes sufferers a lot of distress and can greatly disrupt day to day functioning. Some people with health anxiety may have a medical condition that they worry about too much or in a way that is out of proportion to the actual situation. Others might be troubled by and fixated on medically unexplained symptoms. Others still may just be persistently worried about future illnesses that they may develop.
Some common symptoms of health anxiety are:
- A constellation of unexplained physical symptoms and frequent visits to the GP to check if these symptoms represent an undiagnosed medical condition
- Fear of getting sick or experiencing symptoms of illness in the absence of current symptoms
- Residual fear about the possible reoccurrence of a disease or illness
- Fear about catastrophic outcomes that might occur if one were to contract an illness
- Fear of heightened vulnerability or susceptibility to disease or illness
- Engaging in a range of behaviours such as consulting multiple doctors, undergoing diagnostic procedures, researching possible explanations of symptoms, engaging in frequent hand washing and other safety behaviours
If you feel that the above applies to you, therapy can greatly help to improve your day to day functioning and wellbeing.
Which therapies might help?
- Cognitive Behavioural therapy
- Mindfulness based cognitive therapy