Health anxiety, also known as hypochondria is a specific form of anxiety that causes the sufferer to have an ongoing fear or belief that they have a serious illness.
Like other forms of anxiety, this can vary in how severe it is, but it’s equally debilitating and can seriously affect your life if you suffer from health anxiety.
Typically hypochondria is assumed to be a condition in which someone constantly visits the doctor insisting that they’re gravely ill, when in fact nothing is wrong with them at all. For this reason, they’re often disregarded as dramatic and attention-seekers, when in actual fact, they’re no such thing – they genuinely fear that something is wrong with their health.
This is one form of hypochondria or health anxiety, but there’s another form that’s perhaps even more dangerous and difficult to live with, and that’s the form that causes the sufferer to, not only live in fear of their life each day, but be so terrified of getting their fears confirmed that they actively avoid going to the doctor.
In this post, we want to share a few simple tips for overcoming this so that health anxiety is no longer the one in control.
Focus on logic:
When in the midst of an anxiety episode, all logic and reason go right out the window, but it’s not impossible to regain control and allow logic to take over from fear. How you choose to do this will depend on what works best for you, but things like journaling, meditation, and even exercise are definitely things to try that will help you see you’re probably more healthy than you think.
There’s immense power in education, and when dealing with anxiety disorders it’s no different. Educating yourself about, not only anxiety, but about things like statistics around the positive survival rates and many treatments available for a lot of diseases, plus looking statistics so you see that, even if you are experiencing physical symptoms, then there’s often a very non-sinister reason for it.
It’s important to highlight that educating yourself is not about going on Google to symptom check. This is a dangerous trend for most people, but even more so for someone suffering from health anxiety. Instead, look for reputable sources, whether it be support groups such as the Inspire Ovarian Cancer support group, the websites of counselors who specialize in anxiety disorders, or other sites who use logic instead of fear.
Speak to a counselor:
This isn’t something you have to deal with alone. Speaking to a counselor who is specialized in anxiety disorders, including health anxiety will enable you to look at your options for beating this, as well as putting your mind at ease when knowing that you do have anxiety and not a terminal illness.
Take a friend with you:
Anxiety is rooted in a fear of not being in control – so, health anxiety is even more understandable when you look at it this way. However, one way of taking control is by going to the doctor. Not only will they likely tell you there’s nothing wrong and put your mind at ease, but you’ll actually feel more in control and will see that going to the doctor was not as bad as you feared. If you find it difficult to go alone, then bring a trusted friend or family member for support.