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Health Anxiety Is Ruining My Life: How to Get Over It

Do you have a fear of diseases?

Have you ever thought of a simple headache to be a brain tumor, or a slight stomach ache as an intestinal blockage?

Have people ever called you crazy because of your obsession with health and hygiene?

Are you gripped by a constant fear of being terminally ill?

Have you ever self-diagnosed yourself by checking the symptoms online?

Are you aware of the symptoms of various diseases because you constantly look them up online?

Do you keep getting tests done (often by different doctors)?

Is no reassurance enough to prove that you are not sick? You know that but are never satisfied. Is that you?

If the answer to most of these questions is yes, you probably are a hypochondriac.

But if "Health anxiety is ruining my life" is something you can relate to, this article will help you overcome it.

Health Anxiety Is Ruining My Life

If you're constantly worried about their health and always convinced that you are sick, then you may be suffering from hypochondria.

Hypochondria (Health Anxiety) describes intense and constant worry about your health. And this worry causes much distress and harms one’s ability to function properly.

People suffering from Hypochondria (hypochondriacs) strongly believe that they are suffering from a serious illness outside of a professional opinion. It is often accompanied by OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), stress and anxiety.

What if I have cancer?

What if this symptom leads to something deadly?

Is this a sign of heart disease?

People with Health Anxiety often associate symptoms like headaches, swollen lymph nodes, tiredness, etc. with serious illnesses by way of self-diagnosis.

No matter how infinitely small the chance of having an actual serious illness is to that symptom, a hypochondriac will feel as if they are the exception. They will ask themselves questions like the ones on the right.

Sufferers of health anxiety may constantly search for reassurance about their health, often by seeking medical advice or performing internet searches for information about their symptoms.

Health anxiety can indeed be a vicious cycle fueled by an obsessive desire to find reassurance for curious symptoms.

People with this condition tend to focus excessively on bodily sensations or changes, which they interpret as signs of an underlying illness. They may frequently search the internet for information on their symptoms, visit multiple doctors or specialists, and undergo numerous medical tests and procedures to try and find the cause of their perceived health problems.

Unfortunately, this behavior often perpetuates the cycle of anxiety, as it reinforces the idea that there is something seriously wrong with the individual's health. Seeking reassurance may provide temporary relief, but it can also lead to heightened anxiety and even obsession over health concerns.

As a result, people with health anxiety can become trapped in a cycle of worry, reassurance seeking, and more worry, which can negatively impact their quality of life and relationships.

Mental Health Anxiety

Recent conceptualizations of health anxiety suggest that people can experience extreme, long-lasting (obsessive), distressing, and disabling worry about mental health in similar ways to how people experience extreme worry about physical health. [ Ref.: A Preliminary Investigation into Worry about Mental Health ]

Hypochondria Causes

Finding an exact cause of Hypochondria is not straightforward because it does vary from person to person. Its subjectivity can be pin-pointed to common causes though. Some of these include:
  • Stressful period(s) in life such as the death or illness of a close family member or friend
  • Personality; Some people worry more than others or are over-thinkers
  • Depression
  • A general Anxiety Disorder
Why is Hypochondria/Health Anxiety dangerous?

This question leads to the root of why hypochondria can be detrimental to overall mental health. It is what many consider a vicious circle in the sense that once you start to worry, you’ll be prompted into a state of depression or anxiety. It will make you self-check every square inch of your body until you find the slightest bump or abnormality. Once this abnormality is found, you’ll add it to any other symptoms you may already have in your mind.

You’ll begin consulting your doctor or doctors regularly until you reach the point where you no longer believe them because your research has told you otherwise. You do things like constantly searching up symptoms on Google until you read the words ‘cancer’ or ‘heart disease’.

How to Overcome Hypochondria

Hypochondria can be a debilitating condition. It can take over your life and make you feel constantly anxious and stressed. Here are some tips that can be effective in breaking the cycle of health anxiety:
  • See a doctor regularly. This can help put your mind at ease and reassure you that you are healthy. If you have a symptom, don’t assume the worst. It’s unlikely that you have a serious illness. Instead, focus on the facts and see your doctor if you’re worried.
  • Distraction. When you start to feel anxious about your health, try to distract yourself with something else. This could be reading, listening to music, or spending time in nature or with friends and family.
  • Avoidance of health information. Try not to search, read, or watch too much news about health or diseases. This can only make your anxiety worse.
  • Challenge your negative thoughts. If you find yourself worrying about your health, try challenging your negative thoughts. Take a step back and question your thoughts. Are you really at risk for the health problem you are worried about? What is the evidence? Once you start to question your anxiety, you'll realize that much of it is irrational.
  • Connect with others. Talk to someone who understands what you're going through – it can be incredibly helpful. There are many online and offline support groups for people with health anxiety.
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices. Make sure to care for yourself both physically and emotionally. Eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep. Avoid alcohol and drugs, which can make anxiety worse.
  • Make time for things you enjoy. Don't let health anxiety take over your life. Make sure to schedule time for things you enjoy, like hobbies, spending time with family and friends, or going on walks. This will help you keep your mind off your health anxiety and ensure you're still living a balanced life.
  • Seek professional help. If your anxiety is affecting your life, it may be time to seek professional help. A therapist can help you understand and manage your anxiety.

Hypochondria Treatment

The goal of treatment for health anxiety is to improve the sufferers' symptoms and ability to function in daily life. Typically, treatment involves psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy) and medications when required.

Different Anxiety Relaxation Techniques have a positive effect on the body and mind if you suffer from Hypochondria (Health Anxiety).

If you're struggling with health anxiety, know that you're not alone. Many people deal with health anxiety, and many people understand and can help you. Don't be afraid to reach out for support.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is health anxiety a form of hypochondria?

A. Health anxiety was previously referred to as hypochondriasis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). However, in the latest edition (DSM-5), health anxiety is classified under the category of "illness anxiety disorder." While the terms differ, both hypochondria and health anxiety involve excessive worry about health and the misinterpretation of physical symptoms.

Q. Can health anxiety cause physical symptoms?

A. Yes, health anxiety can manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, stomachaches, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat. The heightened state of anxiety can activate the body's stress response, leading to various physical sensations and discomfort.

Q. Is it common for health anxiety to coexist with other mental health conditions?

A. Yes, it is common for individuals with health anxiety to also experience other mental health conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). If left untreated, it can contribute to the development or exacerbation of these conditions.

Q: Can health anxiety be cured?

A: Health anxiety may not be completely cured, but it can be effectively managed with the right treatment approaches and coping strategies. Many individuals experience significant improvements in their symptoms with appropriate help.

Q. Can self-help strategies be effective in managing health anxiety?

A. Yes, self-help strategies can be effective in managing health anxiety. Techniques such as relaxation exercises, journaling, and challenging negative thoughts can help individuals gain control over their anxiety. However, keep in mind that seeking professional guidance is crucial for comprehensive and long-term management.

Q. Are there any online resources or support groups for individuals with health anxiety?

A. Yes, there are various online resources and support groups available for individuals with health anxiety. Websites, forums, and online communities dedicated to mental health provide a platform for individuals to connect, share experiences, and access valuable information. It's essential to ensure that the sources are reputable and provide evidence-based advice.

Q: Should I avoid seeking medical help if I have health anxiety?

A: No, it's important to seek appropriate medical help when necessary. However, try to limit excessive visits and avoid reassurance-seeking behaviors that perpetuate health anxiety.

Q. How can I support a loved one with health anxiety?

A. Supporting a loved one with health anxiety involves being understanding, patient, and empathetic. Encourage them to seek professional help, offer reassurance, and avoid enabling their anxiety-driven behaviors.


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