What is health anxiety?
Health anxiety is an anxiety condition that is often housed within the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) spectrum of disorders. Those affected by health anxiety have an obsessional preoccupation with the idea that they are currently – or will be – experiencing a physical illness. The most common health anxieties tend to centre on conditions such as cancer, HIV and AIDS but can stretch further into the chronic illness community. A person experiencing health anxiety can fixate on any type of illness; and this is known as health anxiety, illness phobia/illness anxiety or hypochondria. Those who are affected by health anxiety/illness phobia are convinced that harmless physical symptoms are indicators of serious disease or severe medical conditions.
How is this different with a chronic illness diagnosis?
Why is it important to recognise?
How can we make this easier?
Self help tips:
- Keep a diary
- Challenge your thoughts
- Keep busy with other things
- Get back to normal acitivites
- Try to relax
See a GP if your worries about your health are preventing you leading a normal life and self-help isn’t working. If the GP diagnoses you with health anxiety, they may refer you for a psychological therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), or offer you a medicine for anxiety. You can also refer yourself directly for psychological therapies.
Do you have any questions or queries? Or just want to share your own experiences? You can leave me a reply here or leave comments via my social media accounts – on Twitter, find my blog page on Facebook and over on Instagram
- NHS – Health Anxiety
- Anxiety UK – Health Anxiety
- NHS Camden CCG – Health Anxiety – A Self Help Guide [pdf]
- The BMJ – Anxiety
- NIMH – Chronic Illness & Mental Health
- Cognitive Therapy & Research, Feb 2019; S Farris – Cognitive Processess in Anxiety and Comorbid Phsyical Illness and Health Behaviour
- European Psychologist, 2019; J Hudson – Treating Illness Distress in Chronic Illness