Health Anxiety Symptoms
Health anxiety is a symptom of an anxiety disorder that is often associated with the obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) spectrum of disorders. Those affected by health anxiety constantly obsess over their health in a negative way and experience frequent intrusive thoughts about physical illness and death. The most common health anxieties tend to focus on heart attacks or strokes and conditions such as cancer, HIV, AIDs, etc. However, the person experiencing health anxiety may obsess about any type of illness. This condition is more commonly known hypochondria.
People who are affected by health anxiety convince themselves that harmless physical symptoms are actually indicators of serious disease or impending medical emergency. For example, if a person experiencing health anxiety feels their chest is getting tight, they may believe they are having a heart attack. People with health anxiety misinterpret the physical sensations of high anxiety and panic attacks and associate them with some real impending danger.
Most of us worry about our health from time to time, and some of us even have to manage serious medical conditions. But for some people, health worries become overwhelming and debilitating. People with health anxiety can fall into one of two extremes:
- Frequently seeking relevant information and reassurance: – For instance, constantly searching for symptoms on the internet, making unnecessary visits to physicians and undergoing frequent tests that always produce negative results are prominent health anxiety symptoms.
- Avoiding behaviour: – Constantly avoiding medical programs, physical activities (like regular exercise), and doctor’s surgery which are believed to worsen the condition.
Neither of these behaviours is helpful and is actually perpetuating the underlying anxiety disorder. People experiencing health anxiety need to face and address the issue if they are to break the vicious cycle that this type of anxiety creates.
What is important to remember though is that without an underlying anxiety disorder, health anxiety cannot exist. It is the underlying anxiety disorder that is responsible for the obsessions and intrusive thoughts and by treating the underlying anxiety, the health anxiety is removed with it.
The good news is that if you think you are suffering from health anxiety, are experiencing any of these health anxiety symptoms, or you know someone who is, the condition is completely treatable. By following The Panic Shutdown Method people suffering from health anxiety can make a full recovery very quickly.
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