It is common to worry about your health. However, health anxiety/hypochondria involves worrying excessively about your health when there is no or very little medical reason to do so which can have a detrimental impact upon your life. You may worry you have cancer or are having a stroke when there is no medical evidence to support this.
Do you seek reassurance from others (GP, family, friends) about your health concerns? Do you regularly research your symptoms online and check your body? You may even avoid anything associated with illness, such as your GP surgery, hospitals and being around people who are unwell. These are common features of health anxiety/hypochondria and through therapy you will learn that these actions can feed into your anxiety. Medical investigations that show that there is nothing medically wrong may be reassuring, however this is short lived. People may then worry that something has been missed and continue to worry excessively.
You may have received the message from those around you that the physical sensations you experience, such as tingling and pain, are “all in your head”. Your physical sensations are very much real. However, rather than being a sign of a serious illness they are often due to your normal physiological responses. In therapy the behaviours you engage in due to your worries will be explored. You will most likely learn that although they help you to cope with your anxieties in the short term, they worsen your anxiety in the longer term. You will be helped to challenge your worries and discover that your anxiety surrounding health contributes to you feeling unpleasant physical sensations, as opposed to being attributable to a serious illness. Over the course of therapy you will become better equipped to manage your health worries. This will enable you to return to living your life whilst not being held back by your worries.
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