Have you ever felt fearful or anxious about becoming unwell? Do you find yourself in public worrying about germs, bacteria, or viruses that could possibly get you sick? Perhaps you worry about your health or often seek reassurance from friends, family, or doctors that you’re not ill.
If this is the case, then you may have a fear of getting sick, otherwise known as health anxiety.
So, what exactly is health anxiety, how do you tell if you have it, and what can you do to overcome this?
What Is Health Anxiety?
Health anxiety becomes an issue when you spend a lot of time worrying and feeling nervous or anxious about becoming ill or sustaining an injury. In the past it was referred to as hypochondria or a phobia of getting sick.
While everyone gets nervous at times about being unwell, health anxiety is different. This fear can take over your life and impact your ability to do day-to-day activities.
You may focus and fixate on trying to prevent becoming unwell, strain relationships because of your need for reassurance, make frequent visits to local hospitals like Ohio Health Hospital Riverside Methodist Hospital or The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and just generally deal with stress and anxiety.
How To Tell If You Have Health Anxiety
If you have health anxiety, then there are a few telltale signs to watch out for. For instance, you may:
- Frequently check your body for lumps, pain, or signs of illness
- Research conditions and illnesses and try to diagnose your issues yourself
- Constantly worry about your health and wellbeing
- Feel fearful that you are going to catch some sort of bug or illness
- Avoid things to do with serious illnesses such as movies and TV shows showing medical procedures or diseases
- Avoid physical activities as if you were ill, or avoid hurting yourself
- Seek reassurance that you are not unwell
- Obsess over health information online or in magazines
- Worry that a doctor has missed something on your check-up
- Fearful that you have an undiagnosed, underlying condition
Health anxiety can negatively impact their mental health significantly, even leading to panic/anxiety attacks and physical symptoms like a racing heartbeat or headaches and migraines.
How To Overcome Health Anxiety
Challenge Your Mind
Try to challenge your thoughts and replace them with more balanced ones. For instance, make a note of your health anxiety thoughts on one side, and write more positive thoughts on the other. This can help you worry less, and retain more rational thought processes in the future.
Distract Yourself from Anxiety
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your health anxiety, it can be a good idea to distract yourself by going for a walk, meeting up with a friend, reading a book, or watching a movie. This can help bring your stress and anxiety levels back down.
Keep A Diary
Try keeping a diary of how often you check your body, look online for health information, or ask someone knowledgeable for reassurance. Make a note of how much you do this. Then, work on gradually reducing these behaviors.
Try To Remain Calm
Try to practice some breathing techniques and exercises, or even try to get into yoga to calm yourself down. This can help you relax and not focus too much on your anxiety.
Therapy Columbus Ohio
It can become overwhelming living in constant fear of becoming unwell. If you or anyone you know is suffering from health anxiety, and don’t know how to overcome it, you can seek help. It is important that you speak to a counselor, therapist, or doctor for help and treatment sooner rather than later. You deserve to live fully and productively.
We’re here to help. Please read more about anxiety therapy and reach out soon for an appointment with one of our Columbus therapists.