Health Anxiety Counselling
Everyone is concerned about their wellbeing and it's completely normal. But in some cases, this natural concern can take over your mind and turn into an obsession. Having recurring thoughts about your health can indicate that something else is at play and that you might be at risk for health anxiety disorder.
What is Health Anxiety Disorder?
Also known as hypochondria, health disorder is a mental health condition in which you are preoccupied with your health fearing that you are ill, going to get ill or have been ill for a long time. This fear becomes so strong that it can start taking over your life. In reality, you may not have any severe condition, to begin with, but with anxiety, you experience obsessive and irrational worries about having a serious health condition.
In other cases, you might actually have some issues, but often these problems are blown out of proportion or have been misinterpreted as serious and life-threatening diseases. Health anxiety is a condition that is often housed within the obsessive-compulsive disorder category of disorder. The majority of the time, these concerns are fixated on serious conditions such as cancer, AIDS, HIV, etc. but someone with health anxiety can take even less serious illnesses more seriously, thus causing intense fear.
For example, if a person experiences that their chest is getting tight, they might believe that they are having a heart attack. Those that have health anxiety often misinterpret symptoms of minor issues as life-threatening conditions and this adds to their anxiety.
How to find a Health Anxiety Therapist
If you are looking to find the perfect Health Anxiety therapist it is crucial to make sure that they have the appropriate qualifications, knowledge and experience. At Expat Therapy 4U we only accept therapists who have full professional proficiency in English and are highly experienced in working with people from culturally diverse backgrounds. The clinicians we approve share our values and commitment to provide high quality therapy to the expatriate community in the private sector across Europe and online worldwide. We strongly believe that therapy changes lives, and being accredited ensures all our therapists are qualified to a high standard. You can find a Health Anxiety therapist who is insured to practice and accredited with a recognised membership body online here.
Symptoms of Health Anxiety Disorder
The following are some warning signs of hypochondria:
- Being preoccupied with having a serious health condition or a terminal disease.
- Worrying excessively that minor symptoms in the body might lead to some serious health conditions.
- Finding little or no reassurance from visiting doctors or other mental health professionals despite them telling that it's not serious.
- Worrying excessively about a certain health condition because some of your family members had it in the past.
- Having so much anxiety regarding a serious condition that it starts interfering with your day to day functioning.
- Repeatedly checking your body for signs of illnesses or diseases.
- Frequently visiting your doctor or making medical appointments despite reassurances from professionals.
- A person with health anxiety may also avoid getting a checkup for the fear of being diagnosed with some serious illness.
- Avoiding people, places, or occasions for the risks of possible illnesses or contracting a disease.
- Constantly discussing and searching up about possible diseases that you might have.
Causes of Health Anxiety
There is no single exact cause for this mental illness but several factors can contribute to the development of hypochondria such as:
- Major stressors in life that contribute to overall anxiety and depression.
- Experiencing serious symptoms on more than one occasion such as chest pain, memory issues, unresolved body aches, etc.
- History of childhood abuse and trauma earlier in life.
- Having other mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychotic disorders, etc.
- Financial problems due to excessive healthcare visits.
- Having parents that worried too much about their health.
- High neuroticism personality trait. People with high scores in this area tend to worry more than others.
Recommended Treatments for Health Anxiety
If you suspect that you or someone else you know suffers from this disorder, then you should consult your doctor for professional advice. Common treatments for health anxiety disorder include.
The most common treatment for treating health anxiety is talk therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is very effective in treating health anxiety. It teaches you skills necessary to cope with your disorders and how you can keep track of your own thinking to manage your symptoms of anxiety.
Psychotherapy can provide the following benefits.
- Help you identify your anxious beliefs and irrational worries.
- Learning different ways to keep track of your body sensations by improving on your unhelpful thoughts.
- Raising awareness to see how your worries affect you and your behavior and most importantly, how you can control them.
- Learning to confront situations instead of avoiding them due to physical sensations.
- Checking whether or not there are other underlying mental health conditions for causing such behavior such as anxiety, depression, etc.
In some cases, people don’t respond that well to psychotherapy. In this scenario, you can also benefit by taking medications. Antidepressants such as Serotonin reuptake inhibitors SSRIs are frequently used to treat this disorder. However, one should always weigh the pros and cons of medications before taking them as they come with many side-effects as well.
Self-help tips for Health Anxiety
- Note how often you observe your body for reassurances and try to monitor yourself every time you do it. Whenever you catch yourself obsessing over a worrisome thought, understand that you’re exaggerating and counter it with some rational and positive attitude.
- Challenge your thoughts for validity and see whether what you’re obsessing over even makes sense. For example, if you have had a diagnosis for some illness and the results turned out to be negative but you’re still obsessing over it, try to see if there’s any reason to worry if you’ve already been identified as clear.
- Go back to the things you’ve been avoiding because of your health concerns. Socialize with friends and hang out more often. Discuss with other people the thoughts you think and see whether other people see you in the same way you do and that you’re not overthinking.
- Try to keep yourself occupied with other things. Often, when we are inactive and isolated our minds tend to overthink more than usual. The best way to cope with this is to keep engaged in some healthy activities. Try some sports or occupy yourself with hobbies. The more distracted you are, the lesser your worries will be.
Health anxiety disorder can become a challenging condition if left untreated. Get in touch with your mental health provider and see what solutions you can work out for your disorder. Getting help can turn out to be a big step for overcoming your fears and improving your irrational thoughts.
Further Readings on Health Anxiety
About Expat Therapy 4U
Expat Therapy 4U is the result of 5 years’ experience running The International Psychology Clinic, the first private therapy service based in London specialized in multilingual and multicultural therapy.
The platform is run by Dr Martina Paglia. Dr Martina is a leading dual qualified Clinical and Counselling psychologist who helps patients by providing bespoke psychological services including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Counselling and Psychotherapy in London and online worldwide.
Our network comprises highly qualified and experienced private therapists who have made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of expats worldwide. All members of our community are highly experienced working in cross-cultural environments.
We are passionate about delivering first-class patient-centred, safe and effective care. If you would like to work with a warm, inclusive, caring and professional English-speaking therapist in Europe or online worldwide you have come to the right place.
If you are looking for the perfect expat Therapist in Europe or online worldwide, our team is dedicated to help you find your best match. We offer a client guarantee where clients can re-book with a different therapist if they are not satisfied with their first therapy session.
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