Health Anxiety Disorder Risks – Hypnotherapy in Ely and Newmarket
Health anxiety disorder is one of the common forms of anxiety and can have a massive detrimental impact upon your life. You struggle with your persistent preoccupation that there is something seriously wrong with you. You pay close attention to bodily signs and symptoms and you become convinced that something catastrophic is occurring with you.
You can overthink and ceaseless worry that there is something seriously wrong with you. The fear of how awful that would be continues to drive your imagination as you think of how your life will catastrophically unfold before you into the future. And those health anxiety thoughts drive your anxious feelings. You feel tense, restless, low, agitated and doomed.
Sometimes when I work with health anxiety clients, their anxiety has taken hold to such an extent that they struggle to concentrate upon anything else for any period of time. All that consumes them is their health and the feeling that there is something wrong. The tendency then can be to start looking things up online, and that only leads to more fuel being added to the never ending cycle of anxiety.
Some people find that any mention of an illness by others or in the media starts them on a frenzy of checking and seeing whether how they feel matches that illness. You can easily convince yourself your symptoms match and that you have an undiagnosed serious health condition.
And so after endless checking of your symptoms and how your body feels, you may go and see your doctor. For some with health anxiety disorder the reassurance from a medical professional puts their mind at ease for a time. Yet for others, even after all the tests have been comprehensively done, that feeling of dread and of something being wrong lurks on. You start to think that clearly they’ve missed something and that your serious health issue just hasn’t been found yet.
With all the media channels, campaigns and adverts these days it’s almost impossible to avoid health related content. And each time, you can start to notice how the symptoms described seem similar to those that you are experiencing (especially online where symptoms are described in such vague terms).
You may find yourself fixating on one specific part of your body. You feel anxious, fearful and full of fear and dread. You catastrophise, think the worst and become convinced there is something unknown and bad happening to you. Even if you are able to reassure yourself that you don’t have one thing, any period of calm can easily become unsettled as the focus of your anxiety just moves onto something else health related.
Health anxiety disorder can take over your thinking and stop you doing things that you would like to do because you feel so agitated, on edge and worried. You can start to lose sleep and feel mentally and physically exhausted. You may feel too anxious to eat normally and so you lose weight and become certain this is a sign of something being wrong with you. You feel unhappy, uncomfortable and without hope.
As with all types of anxiety, health anxiety disorder is certainly something that you can take back control over so that you can think calmly and logically about how you feel.
Health anxiety disorder brings with it all the usual thoughts, feelings and behaviours of anxiety.
You worry and think the worst about a health issue. You feel that something is not right and worry about what it means. And you find yourself overthinking, catastrophising and both dreading getting confirmation that you have some condition alongside the fear of the unknown about what is wrong with you. Despite how terrible it would be, you just want some sort of certainty about what is happening to you.
For many, health anxiety involves endless visits to medical professionals and all sorts of tests, from blood tests to more invasive procedures. Even when these come back fine, it just convinces you that they’ve missed something or just haven’t found it yet. Alternatively, you may avoid all medical environments because of the overwhelming anxiety and panic they entail. Either way, those anxious health related thoughts and feelings continue to flow on and on from one thing to another.
As with other anxiety related issues, hypnotherapy can be very effective at helping you to calm your health related thoughts and feelings. You can feel calmer and so feel more in control as well as regaining your ability to think clearly and to keep things in perspective.
As you probably are already aware, anxiety, and your flight or fight response, are designed to keep you safe and to help with protection. When faced with a threat your breathing rate increases, your heart pumps faster and oxygen and adrenaline is sent to your muscles. Digestion and thinking are downgraded and everything is about getting away from the threat or otherwise having to engage with it. Yet, with health anxiety disorder (and other anxiety disorders), the threat isn’t one that you can escape from because it comes from your own thinking. That’s why health anxiety can seem like a beast that can’t be tamed. Your anxious thoughts and feelings can just run and run and run and they follow you everywhere.
Even your thinking is about safety. You are focused on the perceived threat to your health. In these terms, it makes sense that you can’t switch off from it. However, alongside the uncomfortable and unnecessary anxiety, research has shown that health anxiety doesn’t really even help you to look after and protect your health.
In fact, the study suggests that people with health anxiety disorder have an increased risk of death from both natural and unnatural causes, compared with individuals from the general population without health anxiety disorder (Mataix-ColsIsomura Sidorchuk, et al, 2023). The findings illustrate a paradox, whereby people with health anxiety disorder have an increased risk of death despite their pervasive fears of illness and death. It doesn’t seem to be totally clear why this is the case, however, the impact of the chronic stress of health anxiety may play an influential role.
With the right help and support you can overcome your health anxiety. And this study suggests that if you really do want to prioritise your health then seeking help is the best course of action you can take right now. Rather than being at the mercy of your relentless anxious thoughts and feelings you can start to feel more calm, comfortable and in control in your own thoughts, feelings and behaviours about your own health.
To your health and happiness,
Award Winning Anxiety Hypnotherapist in Ely & Newmarket
Struggling with anxiety, stress, worry and fear and need some help? Find out how I can help with a Complimentary Hypnotherapy Strategy Session. Learn more here: Appointments
Find out what dozens of other people have said after their hypnotherapy sessions with Dan: Hypnotherapy Testimonials
And check out these powerful hypnosis downloads that can start helping you right away with anxiety, confidence and more: Hypnosis Downloads
Reference: Mataix-Cols DIsomura K Sidorchuk A, et al. All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality Among Individuals With Hypochondriasis. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online December 13, 2023. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2023.4744