A close family member has been diagnosed with cancer 사람들 다운로드. A friend’s dad passed away from COVID. The news is littered with the worst-case-scenarios, and suddenly every mole, headache and rash seems like a death sentence! All the frightening news this year can make you hyper-aware: before, you weren’t even conscious of your body, but now you feel everything – and you worry.
Everyone has health concerns now and then, but for some of us, stressing about health becomes overwhelming and turns into its own problem. Hypochondria, also known as health anxiety, is worrying about your health to the point where it affects your everyday life and causes distress.
Health anxiety can come in different forms:
- Some people are permanently anxious about their future health, thinking about things like: “What if I get heart disease, cancer or TB?”
- Others may have an existing medical condition, which they worry about excessively: will it get worse, is the treatment working?
- In some cases, people have symptoms that can’t be medically explained – such as headaches or chest pain – and even with their doctor’s reassurance, they worry that these could be a sign of serious illness.
What could be causing my health anxiety?
There are various reasons as to why you could be worrying too much about your health, and finding the reason is the way to peace of mind.
Intense stress. Going through a stressful or traumatic time in your life, such as illness or death in the family, can trigger health anxiety.
Learned behaviour. You may have grown up with a family member who was overly concerned about your health when you were young, perhaps due to a childhood condition like asthma or allergies.
Personality. If you are generally disposed to worrying, then you may be vulnerable to health anxiety.
Depression. Health anxiety can be a symptom of a mental health condition, such as anxiety disorder or depression – both of which can be diagnosed and treated.
Different types of health anxiety
With health anxiety, people usually fall into one of two categories – do either of these seem familiar?
- Avoidant behaviour: you avoid doctor appointments, medical TV programmes, activities such as exercise that you feel might make the condition worse, or anything else that may trigger anxiety.
- You are constantly seeking information and reassurance, booking frequent doctor appointments, obsessively researching illnesses from the internet, or having frequent tests that don’t find any problems.
Both these kinds of behaviour are damaging and need to be addressed to help you break the vicious cycle of health anxiety.
Break the vicious cycle
Constantly checking your body for signs of illness means that you will find something – probably a natural body change or misinterpreted signs of anxiety, such as sweating – which will have you self-checking even more. When physical symptoms are triggered by worrying, it causes even more anxiety, which worsens the symptoms. Eventually this can even lead to panic attacks or depression.
There is help for health anxiety
Talk to your doctor – not about illness, but about health anxiety. Once it’s been established that there’s no underlying physical cause for any symptoms you might have, your doctor can investigate whether depression or anxiety disorder may be causing what you are feeling. From there, your doctor will be able to refer you for therapy or prescribe medication, and help to break the cycle.
Joanne Hart for HelloDoctor.com