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  • Writer's pictureKyle Ross

What are the Symptoms of Health Anxiety?

Updated: Apr 12


NOTE: If you'd prefer a more in depth, video version of this article, click the thumbnail below.


symptoms of health anxiety


First off... What is Health Anxiety?


Health anxiety, often referred to as hypochondria or illness anxiety disorder, is a condition that plunges individuals into a relentless state of worry about their health. It's like having a persistent alarm bell ringing in your mind, with every cough, ache, sensation, or irregular heartbeat signals catastrophic illness. This anxiety stems not from actual ailments but from the intense fear and anxiety surrounding the possibility of being sick.


It's a constant battle between rationality and irrationality, where the mind becomes entangled in a web of feeling silly knowing that probably nothing is wrong, and experiencing worry and panic. If this sounds like you, or someone you know and you’d like to learn more about health anxiety, and how to help health anxiety, than this blog is perfect for you. 


What are the Physical Symptoms?


The physical manifestations of health anxiety can confusing. Individuals may find themselves making frequent trips to the doctor's office, convinced that every minor symptom signifies a grave illness. They become hyper-vigilant, scrutinizing every bodily sensation and interpreting them as potential signs of danger. This heightened awareness often leads to an increased heart rate, palpitations, and a perpetual sense of panic coursing through the body. However, what's truly baffling is that these symptoms are not indicative of any underlying medical condition; they are merely the body's response to the overwhelming anxiety and fear gripping the mind.


Imagine your back in school. And you’re in assembly, and the head teacher comes out, and warns the school there are lice. Doesn’t the thought of lice alone make you want to itch? Similarly, health anxiety can create a cascade of physical sensations triggered solely by thoughts, fuelled by fear. The mind, when consumed by worry, has a remarkable ability to manufacture symptoms, making it challenging to distinguish between what is real and what is merely a product of anxiety.


What are the Psychological Symptoms?


The psychological toll of health anxiety is like being trapped in a never-ending nightmare where next to every thought revolves around catastrophic illness. The fear is so consuming that it infiltrates every aspect of daily life, making it difficult to focus, sleep, or enjoy even the simplest pleasures. Individuals may find themselves googling symptoms. Let me tell you this now, this is one of the worst things to do with health anxiety!


Imagine a little thought experiment if you will. What would you say the chances of someone, who is already feeling really anxious, googling symptoms and self-diagnosing themselves to be severely ill? It’s severely high! 


Individuals may develop this tug or war relationship with going to the doctors or A&E and getting that reassurance, or worse yet, distrusting the medical professionals and still experiencing the symptoms of health anxiety. They cannot trust themselves in their own body, and are left feeling clueless about the state of their health, thus leading to more anxiety and panic. 


Some more common psychological symptoms are feeling dizzy, constantly thinking or worrying about health, seeking help with health anxious thoughts or fears.


What are the Behavioural Patterns?


The behavioural patterns of someone grappling with health anxiety are often characterised by avoidance and compulsive rituals. They may go to great lengths to avoid situations or activities they perceive as risky for their health, confining themselves to the safety of their home. Simple tasks like going to work or socialising become massive challenges, overshadowed by the fear of falling ill or losing control.


Additionally, individuals may engage in compulsive behaviours such as frequent hand washing or checking their bodies for signs of illness in a desperate attempt to regain a sense of control.


These behaviours provide temporary relief from the overwhelming anxiety but only serve to reinforce the cycle of fear and uncertainty. It's like trying to douse a fire with gasoline—ultimately, it only exacerbates the problem. And as the grip of anxiety tightens, it becomes increasingly difficult to break those habits as they anchor themselves to a pattern of slight relief followed by greater discomfort and worry.


Treatment Options for Health Anxiety


When it comes to addressing health anxiety, there's a range of treatment options available to help individuals reclaim control over their mental well-being. Finding a health anxiety therapist or specialist trained in:


Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Hypnotherapy, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) NLP and Hypnotherapy are great ways to find the root cause of the anxiety to reframe the beliefs and thought patterns to regain a sense of peace and freedom. CBT is effective in targeting the underlying thought patterns and behaviors that fuel anxiety. These therapeutic approaches empower individuals to challenge irrational beliefs and develop healthier coping mechanisms. Moreover, traditional therapy or counseling provides a safe space for individuals to explore their fears and work towards overcoming health anxiety. Interested? Find out more HERE


Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle


In addition to therapy, adopting a healthy and active lifestyle can significantly impact one's mental health. Engaging in activities like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga can promote relaxation and reduce stress levels. By nurturing the mind-body connection, individuals can cultivate a sense of grounding and resilience in the face of anxiety. Making small changes, such as prioritising regular exercise and incorporating nutritious foods into one's diet, can also contribute to overall well-being and help manage symptoms of health anxiety.


Seeking Professional Support


While self-help strategies can be beneficial, seeking professional support from a health anxiety therapist is often the most effective way to address health anxiety. Investing in therapy is an investment in oneself, with the potential to transform one's life trajectory. Finding the right therapist who understands your needs and preferences is crucial for successful treatment. With the guidance and expertise of a qualified therapist, individuals can navigate their journey to recovery efficiently and effectively. Remember, overcoming health anxiety is a journey, but with the right support, it's possible to find relief and helps you regain control over your health anxiety very quickly. 


Managing Health Anxiety with the ACER Technique


One of the ways to combat how to stop health anxiety on your own is the following strategy. The ACER technique: Acceptance, Challenging, Embracing, and Repeating. Firstly, acceptance involves acknowledging anxious thoughts as just thoughts, not necessarily indicative of reality. By accepting these thoughts without resistance, individuals can reduce the power of their anxiety. Do not overlook this step. There is something profoundly liberating about accepting what is happening. Our natural instinct is to avoid pain, however accepting panic and meeting it is at is, is one of the most effective ways to regain power over the emotion. Next, challenging involves reframing negative thoughts. For example, questioning whether physical symptoms truly indicate a serious health issue or are simply manifestations of anxiety can help shift perspective. Embracing involves fully acknowledging and accepting the reality of the situation, which can diminish the anxiety's hold. Finally, repeating this process as needed reinforces healthier thought patterns and diminishes anxiety over time. This is by no means my method and I claim no responsibility of it, if you’d like to purchase this book, there is a link to it HERE 


Using Mindfulness to Untangle Thoughts from Emotions


Another valuable approach to managing health anxiety is mindfulness. By practicing mindfulness and meditation, individuals can disentangle their emotions from their thoughts. Mindfulness encourages observing thoughts without judgment or attachment, allowing individuals to detach from the cycle of anxiety. It's like stepping off a spinning carousel of health anxiety. Through mindfulness, individuals can learn to recognize anxious thoughts without immediately succumbing to panic, thus breaking the link between symptoms and overwhelming emotions. This detachment from thoughts fosters a sense of control and reduces the grip of health anxiety over one's life.


Summary: 


I hope you’ve found some value from this post. If you are struggling with health anxiety, and are looking to eliminate this quickly with a health anxiety specialist, and would like some health anxiety treatment, claim your FREE consultation call where we can discuss the how to with you, and provide you with some much needed peace and clarity HERE. Health anxiety symptoms are no joke, and health anxiety can ruin your life if it takes control. I hope from this post you realise that health anxiety isn’t set in stone, and it is something that you can get help with. 


If you'd like to learn strategies and techniques to overcome this on your own, I've written a comprehensive article on this which you can find HERE



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