A constant or repetitive focus on yourself, your health and wellbeing
Health Anxiety is not at all what you might suspect
Many people with Health Anxiety believe that they have developed some kind of mental illness, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Many people ask "Well illness is an inevitable fact of life - how can you recover from Health Anxiety when it focuses on something so real?"
The point is that Health Anxiety is DISORDER... like all anxiety conditions it focuses on risk but does so at an inappropriate level.
We all know that illness is an inevitable experience during life but people who live in emotional balance don't make it their constant and daily focus. They deal with illness as it happens.
I had Health Anxiety from 1972 till 1997. I truly understand what you are experiencing but I also know how to quickly overcome it.
These are the eight most common Health Anxiety Focuses:
HIV & AIDS
Although the above conditions are the most frequently discussed by Health Anxiety sufferers, this list is by no means exhaustive.
What does this mean to you?
It's simple... like exercising creates 'systemic' fitness in which your entire body responds to exercise by adjusting itself to another level of ability, I was systemically anxious, which meant that despite what I consciously wanted or what would have been appropriate, my brain was set to behave in this anxious way... there was nothing I could do to control it.YOU are exactly the same.
I now know that you can quickly reverse this process to become un-anxious, if you like... but it took me years to realise this and two days to erase my health anxiety completely.
Health anxiety sufferers carry out compulsive acts in reassurance. These might include:
- calling an ambulance
- repeatedly visit health practitioners
- taking their pulse
- taking their blood pressure
- checking blood sugar levels
- seeking constant reassurance about their health
You know how your days are dominated by anxiety, panic attacks, obsessions, phobias or maybe a combination of these... well these are all indicators of an underlying anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorder is a condition that effects the emotion of fear.
Fear is a natural and necessary emotional response... it keeps us safe... but anxiety is a disorder, a condition that you can eliminate.
When fear activates the brain sends out messages to the senses to identify RISK. In anxiety disorders, as you know, there is no REAL risk present, so the search turns to your physical self and asks... "what inside of me could represent risk?" Your senses are then turned towards your body and mind as they search for ANYTHING that might cause you harm... your mind says "What if I have..." and then adds a condition... "what if I have cancer?" for example.
This is how Health Anxiety develops.
Your mind THINKS it's looking for real risk but in the absence of real risk, your mind creates 'flights of fancy'.
No, the thoughts you experience in Health Anxiety are fiction. Yes, they are thoughts around illnesses that exist but they are served up inappropriately by your mind because you are anxious.
Where REAL risk exists, these thoughts identify it and activate fight or flight to deal with it. We all know how that feels.
But in an anxiety disorder, no real immediate risk exists. These thoughts are just the figment of an incredible imagination.
Health anxiety not only creates inappropriate fears around illness and wellbeing, it also produces a wide range of physical symptoms and thoughts that can appear at any time, anywhere within the body or mind... BUT... they are also FICTION. They are the manifestation of inappropriate fear responses.
These may include some or sometimes all of the following...
Smothering sensations and shortness of breath
Racing heart, slow heart beat, palpitations
Globus Hystericus - 'Lump in throat' and difficulty swallowing
Blanching (colour loss in the skin)
Excessive Perspiration (sweating)
Shaking or shivering (visibly or internally)
Pain or numbness in the head, face, arms, neck or shoulders
Rapid gastric emptying
Indigestion, heartburn, constipation and diarrhoea
Symptoms of urinary tract infection
Increased need to urinate
Weakness/tingling in arms, hands or feet
'Electric shock' feelings (anywhere in the body)
Fears of going mad or losing control
Increased depression and suicidal feelings
Symptoms like 'flu'
Headaches and feelings of having a 'tight band around head'
'Creeping' or 'pins and needles' sensations in the skin
Increased sensitivity to light, sound, touch, and smell
Dramatic increase in sexual feelings
Pain in the face or jaw (resembling toothache)
Derealisation and Depersonalisation
OCD - Obsessive thoughts and compulsions
Pure O - Inappropriate/strange thoughts