“Health Anxiety Is The Fastest Growing Emotional/Mental Health Condition Worldwide, That Is The Least Talked And Known About.”
Hypochondria or health anxiety is a mental condition marked by excessive worrying over an imagined disease, wherein harmless underlying symptoms get exaggerated as being life-threatening by a sufferer, eventually resulting in long-term distress (here’s my personal health anxiety story on YouTube).
Health anxiety typically forms in the 20s or 30s, in both women and men. It may occasionally get triggered by an illness of a family member or friend, or it may develop as a side effect of some underlying mental disorder like depression, etc.
The Other Interesting Pattern I’ve Noticed Was That Many People Who Labelled Themselves As Anxious Kids In Their Past Tend To Attach Themselves To Health Anxiety Or Another Type Of Anxiety Disorder In Their Future.
Most doctors and hypochondriacs know that health anxiety is harmless. But sufferers also know from experience that the condition can quickly change from being a neurotic or quirky part of their lives to a truly overwhelming obsession.
How The Internet Is Contributing To The Rise Of Health Anxiety Sufferers
With the advent of the Internet, developing health anxiety is much easier than before (the 10 tips in this video will help). Easy access to different kinds of information about physical and mental health on the internet has definitely contributed to the growing fears a health anxiety sufferer carries with them.
But The Internet Can Also Be Used To Gain Further Clarity In The Face Of These Health Anxiety Concerns
Although the first few pages of Google always give you the worst possible scenarios for yoursymptoms of anxiety, you can also view these as challenges not triggers. Opportunities to listen to the other side of the story in the face of such fear based information overload.
What is well known is the fact that the internet has definitely worsened the situation for hypochondriacs. The ill effects of such easy access to ill health information on the web for hypochondriacs are so widely known that the phenomenon has its own name…Cyberchondria!
Health anxiety sufferers are not trying to garner further attention or are plain pretending. They have actual troubles understanding the fact that healthy individuals can experience different symptoms.
They also tend to be excessively sensitive to different normal everyday bodily sensations and often perceive such sensations to be indicative of an underlying serious illness (This video explains this very well).
Thus, an upset stomach can become a symptom of cancer, or a headache may get perceived as a sign of brain tumor. The stress that accompanies such unwarranted worry about one’s health can make the existing symptoms like headache, upset stomach, etc., even worse.
Unlike normal folks, health anxiety sufferers will believe any source that offers health information.
A story about a torrid illness that gripped their hairdresser or a medical show on TV; both are good sources of information about health. Such a trait can lay the foundations for serious troubles for health anxiety sufferers when they get easy access to the vast world of unregulated Internet.
Most of the health websites, even proper medical websites, carry the propensity of causing problems for health anxiety sufferers.
For example, a website that offers accurate medical information about different illnesses may list different symptoms like fatigue, headache, swollen glands, weird bodily sensations, as being signs of diseases like Lupus, HIV, etc.
Hypochondriacs tend to latch onto such information available on the web and become convinced that they are ill. It is therefore no wonder that there has been a marked rise in health anxiety!
So what are a few things health anxiety sufferers can begin doing to turn this trend around. Follow this list towards a life of desensitization:
- Identify the root cause/core beliefs that bring on and intensify the anxiety
- Take those core beliefs and identify the moments on when they began, and also who may have implanted these fears and beliefs within you through their own words or behaviours
- Dis-identify from those people and their beliefs. Begin seeing yourself as a separate person all together, with separate ways of seeing the world, separate upbringings, separate behaviours
- Begin adding more evidence and emotion around the new belief system, the opposite of ill health (this video will help you do this)
- Act As-If. Begin behaving as if the transformation has already happened and attach those old ways of thinking and seeing yourself as buzzing flies that buzz around your face (swat them and replace them with great emotion and evidence at every opportunity).
This CBT Based Downloadable Program Will Make These Steps And The Accompanying Steps Much Clearer To You.
In time you’ll be able to turn one way of thinking into another in a moments notice, and not dwell over the what if’s anymore. Beliefs are the foundation to health anxiety, if we change them and begin through repetition and emotion to place ourselves around a new way of thinking about the sensations we can see them for what they truly are, harmless.