What Does Health Anxiety Feel Like? Symptoms, Causes & Examples

Health anxiety disorder
Anxiety Treatment
What Does Health Anxiety Feel Like? Symptoms, Causes & Examples

According to Harvard Health, 4 to 5% of people worldwide suffer from health anxiety, which is considered to be a mental health problem. Most often, those who have health anxiety fear deadly diseases like cancer and HIV. However, in current times, people’s concern about their health is rising rapidly due to viruses such as Covid and monkeypox. Experts believe that the number of persons who experience health anxiety may potentially double from what has previously been estimated.

Health anxiety disorder is a chronic but treatable illness, so you can take action to control its symptoms. Read the full description of the condition, including its signs, causes, and treatments.

Do you have concerns about your health? Connect to a mental health expert to get your symptoms checked.

Health Anxiety Disorder: General Description

Health anxiety is a mental health condition also referred to as illness anxiety disorder. It is also known as hypochondria. People who suffer from the illness anxiety disorder believe they have a significant medical condition or are at a high risk of getting sick, yet this belief is inaccurate. They might mistake normal biological functions as symptoms of the disease.

People who suffer from hypochondria still believe they are dangerously unwell even when medical tests reveal no issues. Their ongoing health concerns may make it difficult for them to carry out regular tasks.

As a result of these excessive health-related concerns, the person may show two types of behaviors.

  • Care-avoidant. Avoiding doctors and medical care because the person may not trust them or believe they are not paying attention to their symptoms. More anxiety and fear may result from this.
  • Care-seeking. Spending a lot of time receiving medical assistance, consulting numerous specialists, and demanding an excessive number of tests.

Health Anxiety Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of health anxiety may include the following:

  • Concerns about developing or acquiring a severe illness or condition.
  • Concerns that modest symptoms or physical feelings indicate a major sickness.
  • Easily panicking over one’s health.
  • Visiting the doctor frequently or receiving insufficient or no assurance from negative test results.
  • Excessive worry about a particular medical disease because of the likelihood of developing one because it runs in your family.
  • Repeatedly examining your body for symptoms of a disease or illness.
Health anxiety symptoms
  • Disturbed daily functioning at work and home due to anxiety about health.
  • Avoiding individuals, places, or activities because of potential health risks.
  • Care-seeking or care-avoidant behavior.
  • Frequently looking for symptoms or potential ailments online.

Causes of Health Anxiety

Several factors seem to increase a person’s risk of developing this condition, even though there is no one precise cause of health anxiety:

  • Personality traits. Being overly sensitive to or conscious of one’s body is one of the most prevalent risk factors for health anxiety. Some people with a diagnosed sickness could exaggerate how severe their situation is. They might believe that their or someone’s health is in immediate danger.
  • Genetics and social impact. Children whose parents are constantly concerned about their own or children’s health may pass health anxiety to their children. Anxious parents are more likely to raise anxious children.
  • Past illnesses. A serious illness or injury you endured as a child or in a previous life may increase your vulnerability to future health-related anxiety.
  • Stress. Your physical and emotional health may get worse as a result of stress. Even simple life concerns might make a person more anxious when they are under extreme stress, and one might exaggerate their medical symptoms.
  • Internet usage. One becomes doubtful about their health when they utilize the Internet a lot for health-related reasons. You can begin to link the symptoms mentioned online with your health.

If you have medical anxiety, talk to a mental health professional to find out the cause and cure.

Health Anxiety During the Pandemic

An increase in health anxiety among the general public is common during pandemics. For instance, in recent times, the public has become concerned about their health because of viruses like Covid-19 and monkeypox. The Covid pandemic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), caused a rise in anxiety and depression prevalence by 25% simply in the first year. Many people had intense panic and over-vigilant awareness of every symptom, and even then, this pattern of frequent self-checking has only worsened.

Another example of the rise in health anxiety can be found in the current monkeypox virus outbreak. Even if this virus doesn’t prove to be as destructive as Covid, it seems sensible that people are worried whenever an outbreak of a strange infectious disease happens. According to a recent study, 19% of Americans are concerned about getting monkeypox in the next three months. Most people are still unaware of how the symptoms of monkeypox are spread or whether vaccination is available.

How to Stop Health Anxiety Symptoms?

Illness anxiety is a treatable condition. Both psychotherapy and medications can help you fight your fear of getting sick.

  • Psychotherapy. People can recognize and alter their problematic thinking patterns with the help of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). One can begin to feel more assured, hopeful, and at ease by studying how thoughts affect our feelings and behaviors and how to change how they see health and illness. These psychotherapies are aimed at bringing long-term changes.
What is health anxiety
  • Medications. If psychotherapy doesn’t help you get rid of health anxiety symptoms, a doctor may decide to start you on medications. Illness anxiety disorder is commonly addressed by antidepressants, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that are used to treat mood and anxiety disorders.

Coping Strategies for Health Anxiety

You can manage your anxiety on your own by following self-help methods:

  • Muscle relaxation. Spend some time each day taking deep breaths and intentionally relaxing your entire body’s muscles through progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), from head to toe. You might be shocked by how much stress you carry with you throughout the day.
  • Challenge your thoughts. Face your thoughts and challenge them through practical explanations. For example, keep a journal and write it down whenever you feel worried about your health. Then, add an assurance or the way you addressed that worry, such as by setting a doctor’s appointment.
  • Mindfulness exercise. The practice of mindfulness involves deliberately focusing our attention on our thoughts, surroundings, and actions. By performing this exercise, you can become more rooted in the here and now. Although, it can assist you in diverting your attention from ruminative thoughts. It’s an activity that can be performed anytime, anywhere.

Outlook

Health anxiety is a medical condition that can vary in its severity over time. However, it is possible to lessen the symptoms of health anxiety so that you may function better every day and worry less if you get help and follow your treatment plan. Connect to the EZCare Clinic for the best treatment plan for your anxiety in terms of time, money, and services.

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