What Exactly is Health Anxiety? | Private Therapy Clinic
Friday, 22 Feb 2019

What is Health Anxiety

By Private Therapy Clinic

Health anxiety might sound like something that we all suffer from at one point in our lives, but there’s a stark difference between being concerned and vigilant about your health and actually experiencing severe health anxiety. And so today, we’re going to take a look at what exactly health anxiety is all about and the most effective treatment processes that you can go through if you feel like you’re suffering from health anxiety.

What I would say here as well is that Private Therapy Clinic actually have a host of really well-experienced and well-qualified therapist to help with conditions such as health anxiety. And if at the end of this video, you think that you might have elements of health anxiety or know somebody that does, then be sure to contact them.

So let’s ask the first question. What exactly is health anxiety? Well, basically someone who worries a lot about their health. They have a deep anxiety and fear that they are experiencing or will experience a severe health complication at some point. And at times, this anxiety can be so entrenched that it can actually make the symptoms worse at times. Another thing could be said about health anxiety is that it can be so deep, the anxiety can be so strong for some people that even medical reassurance doesn’t go far enough in getting them over that anxiety. And we’re going to talk more in a minute about how medical reassurance actually can’t often provide that much help for those suffering from health anxiety and why that is.

Now, a situation that somebody experiencing health anxiety may experience is maybe they feel tightness in their chests. For example, if they suffer from health anxiety, one of the things that he might think of is that they’re about to have a heart attack, for example. Somebody who doesn’t have health anxiety maybe sees that for what it really is. Maybe it’s just sore muscles or maybe they just have a tight chest that day. A really good analogy that we can use to understand exactly what health anxiety is is the analogy of a car alarm. Now, it is appropriate to be concerned and be anxious when you hear your car alarm go off if you knew that that car alarm is associated only when someone’s trying to break into your car. You hear the alarm in your house, and you know exactly what that means, and you know what to do. Now, imagine if your car alarm goes off at just anybody walking past your car. The alarm would be raised every single time a pedestrian simply walked past. Now, this analogy can have mirrors a little bit about what health anxiety is like because alarms go off for health people with health anxiety all the time. Simple bodily symptoms or small pains can infer a huge challenging diseases or conditions for people that suffer from health anxiety. It’s as if the car alarm goes off every single time somebody walks past.

And with this analogy, we can start to understand the severity of health anxiety, and we can also start to understand how complex, complicated and restricting it is for people that suffer from it. Now, medically speaking, health anxiety is often bracketed within the obsessive compulsive disorder group. And there are two main types of health anxiety.

The first is somatic symptom disorder, and this is where somebody has a hypervigilance of symptoms that there may be experiencing. For example, skin blemishes or headaches or even outbreaks of spots.

The other type is illness anxiety disorder. Now, this is when somebody that they have a severe underlying health condition, even with medical reassurance that they don’t. And one of the key features that illness anxiety disorder is that there often aren’t even any symptoms. Somebody just has that element of health anxiety that’s so strong that they think that they have underlying health condition.

Statistically speaking, more often than not, health anxiety can actually develop from kind of early adulthood into middle adulthood. And the statistics also show that women are more likely to experience health anxiety although it’s still a little bit unclear as to why that is.

So what actually causes health anxiety? Well, again, at times, this can be really unclear. One of the things is that we have a lack of knowledge or uncertainty about bodily diseases or conditions. And coupled with that lack of knowledge comes a lack of understanding it, but the symptomologies and so if we feel that we have certain symptoms that are attributed to conditions that we don’t really know much about, then health anxiety can increase.

Another thing that might aid health anxiety is that there’s a genetic factor. Perhaps a close family member has had an experience of underlying health conditions or quite severe conditions for that matter. If that’s the case, somebody in their lineage might actually experience health anxiety and fuel it, that genetic factor attributes to them as well.

Another component is that you perhaps have a history of underlying health conditions or severe health conditions yourself if you have been diagnosed with a severe health condition in the past and it’s fair to see that maybe you’ve experienced or developed health anxieties as the years progress.

And another thing here to see is that perhaps you have a generalized anxiety disorder in general. Sometimes, generalized anxiety disorders can feed into different parts of our daily lives and for you, that may be health.

Another question here to ask about health anxiety, as you know, is health anxiety normal? Is this a normal thing? Should we all just experience healthy anxiety and what I would say here is that it’s of course normal to be concerned and vigilant about your health. If you feel that something really isn’t right with your health or with your body, then it’s absolutely appropriate to go and see your GP.

However, there’s a difference between being vigilant and concerned and actually having health anxiety. And like I said earlier, one of the defining features is when that anxiety is still there, regardless of medical reassurance. Now, sometimes, health anxiety can manifest in a way of where people refuse to go to the doctors because they’re so afraid of a potential diagnosis. And on the other side, health anxiety can manifest in a way where they don’t take on doctor’s advice. Maybe you went to a GP, and they said you’re absolutely fine. Not taking that advice or not believing them is a sign of health anxiety as well. So of course, it’s absolutely appropriate to be aware of your own health, but there’s a real difference between being aware of your health and being vigilant of potential symptoms and experiencing health anxiety.

So another question that you’re perhaps asking is how do you know if you have health anxiety? Well, there are a few questions that you might want to ask yourself. If in the last six months, you have feel preoccupied with feeling that you have an underlying health condition, have felt distressed by this, have felt negative implications in your daily life through relationships and social life off the back of that belief, have felt a need to constantly re-examine yourself or self-diagnose or have felt unconvinced by medical reassurance, if you feel that that’s the case for you, if you answer yes to most of those, then the chances are that you maybe are experiencing elements of health anxiety.

So now that we’ve looked at a lot of that about what health anxiety is, what causes it and understanding if you may experience yourself, what exactly is a treatment process for health anxiety?

Well, the most effective treatment is therapy. Now, this is where I said earlier in the video, if you feel that you’re experiencing elements of health anxiety, then you should contact Private Therapy Clinic and get access to one of their really well-experienced and qualified therapists that can help you through this process of recovery. Make sure to get in touch.

Now, one of the most effective forms of therapy for health anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. Now, this is where there’s a focus on our technicians, the way that we think and our behaviors, the way that we act and how those two interlink. Their process of analysis may envelop with CBT which analyzes the situation in where we have health anxiety and then assess is how that makes us feel and as a result, how we behave.

For example, we may experience a pain in our chest. The feeling might be that, gosh, I’m going to have a heart attack. And the behavior, it might be that I’m going to stay and say “I’m not going to do any exercise. I’m not going to go to the doctor’s because I’m scared of the diagnosis.”

CBT helps to connect all those dots and tries to change our thinking pattern and as a result, our behavior pattern as well. CBT helps us overcome those irrational thoughts about what our health anxiety is all about. As we said earlier in the video, a lot of health anxiety is to do with the rational thinking about diagnosis. CBT helps us try and get past that as much as it can.

Okay, guys, so we’ve looked at what health anxiety is, we’ve looked at the causes of it, we’ve looked at understanding of you may experience yourself, and we’ve also looked at the treatment of health anxiety.

Be sure to check out Private Therapy Clinic if you feel that you have experienced the elements of health anxiety. And like I said before, one of their therapists will definitely be able to help you. And thanks so much for watching.

WHO CAN I SPEAK TO FURTHER ABOUT THE ISSUES IN THIS ARTICLE?

For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check out other related articles

  • 06 May 2018

    Anxiety and How to Deal with the Current Political Climate

    Growing numbers of people around the world are experiencing stress and anxiety related to the current political climate. If they already have an underlying mental health issue, their worries about politics are making it worse—and even people who have never been diagnosed with a disorder are experi.....

  • 16 Mar 2018

    Could Anxious Attachment be Causing Your Relationship Problems?

    We use the term “attachment” to describe the warm feelings that one person develops for another individual who is important to them. The first attachment we form in life is typically for our mother, or primary caregiver, and the way in which this attachment forms has profound repercussions for t.....

  • 05 Dec 2018

    How can you use a Worry Tree to tackle the things that are Worrying you?

    We all suffer from worry at times, and for those who are inclined to suffer from anxiety, worry can become genuinely very disabling. Worries can escalate until they are occupying all our mental space. They can lose all proportion and prevent us from engaging in our everyday activities. We can waste .....

  • 22 Aug 2018

    How to challenge unhelpful thinking - a simple strategy

    In this video Dr Becky Spelman discusses a simple strategy to overcome unhelpful thinking. This techniques uses certain questions to help people overcome their unhelpful thoughts......