Managing Your Health Anxiety During Coronavirus
When we talk about anxiety, we are typically using an umbrella term for a wide range of mental health issues. Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) may be what you usually think of as anxiety, as it tends to refer to a person’s constant worrying and concern. But there are other anxiety disorders like panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder and health anxiety which many people suffer from.
Today we are focusing on health anxiety, what it is and how it affects us. As we are living in a world where our personal health is becoming a concern for everyone, it is no surprise we are seeing more people developing health anxiety. People are becoming too afraid to leave their home even as restrictions lift in fear of contracting Covid-19. A tickly throat becomes an infection, some else sneezing becomes a worry, and people are starting to miss out on vital social connections with others – even socially distanced.
Please keep reading to learn more about health anxiety and how you can overcome the negative symptoms that accompany it. With the right support and knowledge of health anxiety, you can understand how this affects you as well as what you need to do for a relaxed, worry-free future.
What is Health Anxiety?
Sometimes called hypochondria, health anxiety is when a person spends a lot of time worrying about being ill, getting ill or thinking they are ill. This constant worrying is overwhelming and starts to take over their life – everything they do revolves around the thought of becoming ill.
Like other mental health issues like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalised anxiety disorder, health anxiety is a mental illness. This constant concern over your health isn’t something other people would consider ‘typical’, and with the right help, it is something you can overcome too.
Do I Have Health Anxiety?
We shouldn’t self-diagnose over the internet, but it is always good to have an understanding of what you may be facing. Seek out a therapist to learn more in-depth knowledge surrounding health anxiety. However, the following are some symptoms of health anxiety you may be experiencing:
- Constant, unrelenting worry about your health.
- You frequently check your body for signs of physical illness like lumps, pain, tingling or change in appearance.
- You always ask friends and family for reassurance that you are not ill. You may also visit the doctors a lot to get confirmation you are not ill.
- Even after visiting the doctor, you may worry that they have missed something or the tests are wrong. You worry that you are ill with something undetectable.
- You also seek to self-diagnose and obsessively look for health information online and in the media. You may imagine physical symptoms as a result of your findings.
- You may avoid things concerning serious illness like visiting A&E and watching medical TV shows and films.
- You may act as though you are ill (e.g. avoiding physical activities, staying home, calling in sick to work) because you believe you are.
- The anxiety you are facing may cause symptoms like headaches or a racing heartbeat which you mistake for signs of more serious physical illness.
What Can I Do?
Living with health anxiety isn’t an easy thing; from the moment you wake up to the second you go to sleep, you can worry over being ill. And with Covid-19 still present in our current world, it can be even harder trying to push the concerning thoughts to the back of your minds. So what can you do to overcome your anxiety and see a future where you don’t have an unhealthy fear over your health?
Thought it might sound both easy and hard at the same time, trusting and listening to health professionals is key to understanding your health. Trusting a health professional sounds easy, but for those facing health anxiety, it can be very hard. You may always think that they are missing something and you are in fact ill. It would be best if you stopped visiting the doctors as much unless you are sure there are symptoms present and when you do, explain to the doctor your anxiety, and they can help reassure you about test results.
You also need to avoid trying to self-diagnose on the internet. Block sites that you regularly visit and try and resist the compulsion to reach out and Google symptoms you think you have. The less time you spend online, the easier it will be for your mind to let go of the compulsion and trust your gut rather than what you read.
Therapy is also excellent for those suffering from health anxiety as you are provided with a safe space to open up about your concerns and gain professional advice. Having worked with a range of people with different complicated issues and needs, I tailor my service to every client I work with. Therapy is highly intimate and personal in the sense that you are opening up to a person and developing a relationship with them. This allows me as a therapist to gain an understanding of how and why you need support and to gain your trust so that we can work to find solutions for your health anxiety symptoms.
Check out my website today to learn more about how I can support your mental health journey as a therapist. Therapy is a trustworthy and reliable treatment which allows you to be open and honest with a person rather than hide your fears from the world. If your life is being taken over by health anxiety, get in contact with me to talk more about how I can help keep the symptoms at bay.