Health Anxiety: A Silent Curse
Health is something most people tend to take for granted, until something goes wrong. But for others, worrying about their health unnecessarily is something in the nature of a disease by itself – suffers are likely to refer to it as ‘Health Anxiety’, since ‘Hypochondria’ has come to have such negative connotations. Health Anxiety is a distressing condition, since like Depression or other forms of Anxiety Disorder, it is difficult for the sufferer to overcome, however hard they try and however sincerely they want to.
So How Do You Know If You Are Suffering from Health Anxiety?
- You find yourself constantly worrying about the smallest twinges, aches, or symptoms, and looking them up online.
- You can’t stop worrying that you have some serious illness, even if your head tells you there’s almost certainly nothing wrong.
- You keep on worrying even after looking at the statistics of someone of your age/general health/smoking and drinking history having the disease and finding them minuscule.
- You’re even worried about having several serious diseases all at once.
How to Deal with Health Anxiety
See a Doctor. First and foremost, if you’re worrying about something, it’s better to see the doctor. You can be up front about it, say you think it may be Anxiety related, and let them provide the necessary reassurance, or you can just present it as symptom and see what they say. The second is the more dangerous course of action in that they may feel they have to send you for tests, which could fuel your Anxiety further. However, if you don’t feel your Anxiety will be allayed without tests, this may be the best thing for you.
Try Not To Think About It
This sounds both obvious and, to anyone who has suffered from Anxiety, very difficult. But it’s a biggie. When you start to pay too much attention to some tiny twinge, try to think about something different. When health worries come into your head, push them aside and get on with something else.
Use a Distraction
Be proactive in not thinking about it. When the Anxiety thoughts come, think about your holidays to Algarve, recite a poem in your head or out loud, or if you are religious, say a simple prayer. Obviously you will need to memorize a suitable poem or prayer for this purpose. But make the effort to acquire a distraction and then use it.
Practice Rational Thinking
By this I mean think carefully about your worries. Analyse them. Are you really experiencing a pain? Is it something innocent being amplified by too great a focus on one part of your body? Or even something generated by your concerns – you’d be surprised what symptoms Anxiety can generate. Look at the statistics for the disease you are concerned about, if you think this will help you. Rational Thinking is especially helpful if you have a history of Health Anxiety, because you can pick out the patterns where similar worries have developed before. Another important thing is to remind oneself of any periods during which one’s symptoms magically disappeared – during your holidays to Algarve or wherever – i.e. when you’re relaxed and distracted – or maybe during a busy period of intense focus on some particular thing, if not too stressful. Be aware that generally speaking, periods of stress are likely to seriously aggravate or even bring on Health Anxiety.
Choose Your Websites!
The Internet is a curse for those suffering from Health Anxiety. Too much information allows the body to manifest symptoms according to whatever disease you have been reading up on, thus feeding your fears. Practice Rational Thinking in regard to this – do your symptoms shift in this way? On the other hand, the Internet in the form of help sites and forums can be a blessing for sufferers of Health Anxiety. You can discuss your symptoms with other people, and if you are feeling down and frustrated with yourself, you can find comfort in knowing that you are very, very far from the only person out there suffering in that way.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Another very simple, but very important way to fight any Anxiety disorder. If you have trouble sleeping, try drinking a strong cup of Valerian tea forty-five minutes before bed or taking herbal sleeping tablets. Always read the packets or consult your doctor before taking anything that will induce sleepiness, and don’t drive under their influence. Learning meditation and relaxation techniques is also worth considering.
Exercise and Watch Your Weight
Another obvious one. Exercise releases endorphins and gives a sense of well-being, as well as simply improving your general health. Excess weight weighs one down, literally as well as metaphorically, and lowers your sense of well-being. Everything will be both easier and more enjoyable it you’re fit and healthy, from work, to holidays to Algarve, to family gatherings.
Above all, try not to let Health Anxiety get you down. It can be successfully fought, effectively managed, and though it is a condition prone to recurring, even entirely defeated. The important thing is to persist, and to not forget to examine one’s entire lifestyle – Stress is the Number One factor in most cases of Health Anxiety.