Sometimes in our lives, we are confronted with illness and we are not always understanding it. And sometimes we become so anxious about what might be happening that we create worry and anxiety. This post talks about when anxiety takes over and affects our health.What can we do about it? Read on.
This is a paid contributed post. That means that Ariel did not write this entire post.
We should all be worried about our health. Sometimes, our life may depend on it. However, there are those people who worry just a little too much. Every cough and sneeze is symptomatic of some greater illness when in reality they probably have a simple cold or a less worrisome virus.
Every time a spot appears, the first thought is cancer, when it may only be a zit. Every time they feel a pain in the chest, it’s assumed a heart attack is occurring, when in fact it may only be muscle strain, or pain brought about from the stress of worrying too much.
Blowing up symptoms out of all proportion is known in the medical field as ‘health anxiety,’ or in common parlance, hypochondria.
Who can get health anxiety?
To a greater or lesser degree, we can all suffer from the problem. Still, some people are more prone to the issue than others. For example, the following types of people show typical traits of health anxiety. Could you be one of them?
– Those who worry about everything. From a tidy house to being sensitive to the words of others, being worried about possible health issues is only something else to fret over.
– Negative thinkers, with the glass half empty philosophy. If anybody is going to catch an illness, it’s probably one of these people – that’s what they would have you believe, anyway.
– People who have had genuine health fears in the past. It’s understandable they would be concerned about a past illness recurring, so any symptom that arises will cause an anxious reaction.
– Anybody who has seen somebody else suffer from a terrible illness, particularly if that person is close to them, such as a family member. The illness may also run in the gene pool, so there will be heightened anxiety when a symptom seems to rear its ugly head.
Unfortunately, the media doesn’t help. News programmes are always full of negative stories about foods being bad for us, and there are often tales of illness and viruses entering our country. Then there are articles on the internet or in our magazines and newspapers.
They are supposed to help us notice symptoms of health issues, when in reality, they only spread fear amongst people who may not be ill after all. The people mentioned above are more likely to fall victim to the information and misinformation that the media spreads, which is like a disease unto itself.
Do I have health anxiety?
You may already know the answer yourself, and if you fit into one of the groups of people mentioned above, then you are probably prone to the problem. Still, there are some common habits that people from health anxiety take part in on a regular basis.
For example, do you do any of the following?
– Head straight to the internet, and type into Google every symptom you have, and mull over it obsessively.
– Ring or visit your doctor on a regular basis, regaling him or her with the illness you are sure you must have, especially if you sought ‘expert’ advice from the internet before making your appointment. Then, if they don’t tell you what you want to hear, get a second opinion to confirm your suspicions.
– Always tell friends and family, offloading your health concerns, and causing them to worry about their own health in the process.
– Lie awake at night worrying, and obsessively check yourself for other symptoms of a particular disease you have discovered on the internet, or heard about on the tv.
How to overcome the problem?
As with any emotional disorder, the problem can be alleviated. It won’t be easy, especially if you are prone to worrying, but you can help yourself. For example, consider the following.
– Don’t jump to conclusions. If you know you are prone to overreacting, take a step back before you fear the worst. Self-analysis is always useful, so rather than convincing yourself that you are ill, take a deep breath and look at yourself logically. Is that spot really worthy of a mole scan? If it is a mole, then yes, but look at it closely as it may only be a zit or a pimple that is nothing to worry about.
– Be mindful of Doctor Google. The internet is a source of great help, and it might also be useful in diagnosing a health condition. Still, you do need to use the appropriate websites, with information that is written by accredited medical professionals and not an uneducated blogger.
– Visit your doctor. While people with health anxiety are prone to pestering their doctors, it is still better to be safe than sorry, especially if the internet or news has given you cause for alarm. Your doctor will give you informed advice, and will ease any anxious worries you have.
De-stress yourself. You are only going to make yourself feel worse through worrying. Stress will bring about symptoms of its own, including pain and rashes, so try and chill out as much as possible before assuming the worst. Try tai-chi or go out for a long walk, and give your mind time to calm itself before checking yourself into the local hospital.
– Consider counseling. This is possibly the best thing you can do, especially if health anxiety is taking over your life. Usually, your doctor will refer you to a CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) counselor, and they will help you overcome the problem, looking at how your anxiety originated and helping you to take steps to deal with it when it does.
– Educate yourself. This goes beyond the internet, which as we said, can be a problem. If you are worried about a particular illness, speak to a specialist or make contact with a genuine sufferer who can give you informed advice. Read respected textbooks too. The more you know about an illness from first-hand sources, the less you will worry about should you jump to conclusions with uninformed assumptions.
We hope we haven’t given you unnecessary reason to worry about suffering from health anxiety when you didn’t have it in the first place. That kind of defeats the purpose of this article!
Still, if it is a problem for you, follow our advice and speak to a qualified professional. You need to be concerned about your health, but not when those concerns are causing you to fall unnecessarily ill. Take care, and thanks for reading.
And please know that we all worry about our health at times. Knowing that we are not defined by what is happening to our bodies and also not claiming the drama of it, allows our minds and bodies to heal.
So do please, teach yourself meditation. Find your peace. Find your joy and just be.
In peace and gratitude,
Founder, successful-full-living.com, living one heart-centric moment at a time!