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HEALTH

anxiety 

Health Anxiety: Understanding and Coping with the Fear of Illness

Health anxiety, also known as hypochondria or illness anxiety disorder, is a mental health condition characterised by excessive and persistent fear of having a serious illness despite having no or only mild symptoms. People with health anxiety often engage in repetitive behaviours such as checking for physical symptoms, seeking medical attention, or avoiding situations that trigger their anxiety.

Symptoms of Health Anxiety

  • Constant worry about having a serious illness

  • Excessive self-examination and checking for physical symptoms

  • Seeking reassurance from others or healthcare providers

  • Avoiding situations or activities that trigger anxiety

  • Difficulty functioning in daily life

Causes of Health Anxiety

The exact cause of health anxiety is not known, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors. Some common causes of health anxiety include:

  • Family history of anxiety or mental health disorders

  • Personal experiences with illness

  • High levels of stress or trauma

  • Exposure to illness-related information or media

Treatment for Health Anxiety

There are several effective treatment options for health anxiety, including therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps individuals learn to identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours related to their anxiety.

  • Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and beta-blockers can help reduce physical symptoms of anxiety and improve overall well-being.

  • Lifestyle changes such as exercise, healthy diet, and stress management techniques can also help reduce the symptoms of health anxiety.

Managing Health Anxiety

While seeking professional help is important, there are also several strategies that individuals can use to manage their health anxiety on a daily basis.

  • Focus on self-care: Engage in activities that promote physical and emotional well-being, such as exercise, healthy eating, and mindfulness practices.

  • Limit exposure to illness-related information: Avoid spending excessive time on medical websites or reading about illness-related topics.

  • Challenge negative thoughts: Practice cognitive restructuring techniques to challenge and change negative thoughts about health and illness.

  • Seek support: Connect with friends, family, or support groups to help cope with feelings of anxiety and isolation.

Health anxiety can have a significant impact on an individual's quality of life, but with the right support and treatment, it can be effectively managed. If you are experiencing excessive fear of illness, seek the help of a mental health professional to develop a treatment plan that works for you. There are plenty of therapy options for Health Anxiety available at our clinics depending on your independent problem, needs and goals including counselling, CBT, psychotherapy, compassion focused therapy.   

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To find out more about our therapy options and to receive a recommendation on which therapy would be most appropriate for you, please click on the button below to book a free consultation.

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