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Illness Anxiety and How to Overcome It

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Health or illness anxiety, formerly known as hypochondriasis, is an obsession or fear that you may be suffering from a serious medical condition or may become severely ill by contracting a disease. Some people may have no symptoms at all, while others may believe that minor symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, and muscle twitching are signs of severe illness.

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Nevertheless, in this article, we’ll discuss illness anxiety disorder and how you can overcome it. Read below to learn!

What Are the Symptoms of Illness Anxiety, and When to See a Doctor?

Illness anxiety may hinder you from living a happy, healthy life. It may adversely affect your work life, relationships, and daily activities.

Remember that an individual with an illness anxiety disorder may uncontrollably obsess over normal body sensations (like stomach growling) or minor symptoms (like a slight body rash). However, the most common symptoms are:

  • Constantly googling your symptoms and looking for possible illnesses
  • Overly stressing that minor symptoms or normal body sensations may be a part of a bigger problem
  • Always preoccupied with having a serious illness or getting it in the future
  • Not being satisfied by the doctor or having negative test results
  • Avoiding people and places to prevent catching a disease
  • Booking appointments with doctors or avoiding them because of the fear of being diagnosed with a severe health condition

It’s essential to consider that if you’re experiencing some of the minor symptoms in your body that may feel weird or abnormal to you, you should visit a doctor and get yourself tested, as they may advise. If everything has been done several times and your doctor believes that you’re suffering from an illness anxiety disorder, they may refer you to a mental health professional.

How Can You Overcome Illness Anxiety Disorder?

When diagnosed with illness anxiety, you can implement several ways in your life to overcome the symptoms and help you lead a healthy life so you are able to function better in your daily life.

Visiting a Therapist   

Visiting a therapist may be helpful for you to manage the symptoms of illness anxiety more effectively. Your therapist may use different therapy techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), behavioral stress management, and exposure therapy.

CBT can be helpful for you to find different ways to cope with the symptoms of illness anxiety so it doesn’t take a toll on you. It can allow you to learn skills to cope with anxiety and stress, improve your daily life functioning, identify your fears and beliefs, and change the way you react to your symptoms or body sensations.

However, your therapist may decide which technique will be ideal for your needs. In the case of medications, doctors usually prescribe antidepressants, but it’s imperative to talk to them about taking this route and also discuss side effects.

Lifestyle Remedies    

When taking professional help from a therapist or primary care provider, you can implement these steps in your daily life for added effectiveness:

  • Practice relaxation techniques – Breathing exercises, journaling, mindfulness and meditation, and visualization are some of the relaxation techniques that can calm down your anxiety.
  • Move your body – Hiking, walking, swimming, cycling, and rope jumping are some fun cardio activities that will help you enjoy and release feel-good hormones to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Participate in activities – You may want to lock yourself up in your home, but you should still be involved in social and family activities as they will help you feel less lonely.
  • Don’t look up your symptoms – You must fight the urge to Google your symptoms, as this can disrupt your treatment. Instead, you can jot down your symptoms on paper and ask your primary care provider on your next appointment, as they can provide the most accurate info.