What is Health Anxiety?
Health anxiety is an extended preoccupation or excessive concern for one’s health. The person experiencing health anxiety is convinced that a serious illness is imminent and tends to focus much attention on possible symptoms of the perceived illness. People with health anxiety frequently misinterpret physical symptoms of anxiety (e.g.nausea, sweating, heart palpitations etc.) as signs of an impending illness.
Worrying excessively about health can lead to significant distress for the person and consequently, the person may feel compelled to relieve this distress through seeking reassurance from family or health care workers, or by checking books, magazines and internet sites. Although it can seem reasonable to attain reassurance from such sources, however, for people with health anxiety, reassurance seeking can be persistent and not offer actual relief from symptoms. Continued checking of and focus on perceived symptoms can reinforce health worry and contribute to an increase in the experience of physical symptoms. In some cases, the person may visit several doctors and request more in-depth examination of symptoms. If no medical reason for symptoms is found, the person may question the expertise of the doctor.
Adults suffering from health anxiety or long-term worrying about their health can benefit from attending a Psychologist at The Mental Health Company. Our team of Counselling Psychologists have years of experience, successfully diagnosing and treating health anxiety. We can help you manage your anxiety long term through Mindfulness and relaxation training and psychology techniques.
By using a combination of mindfulness and a psychology based approach, we will try and get to the root of your health anxiety and develop strategies to help you overcome it.
How We Can Help
In Sessions 1-2, the Psychologist will ask you about the exact nature of your health symptoms and the feared prognosis. Attempts to manage symptoms and ways of seeking reassurance will be explored. Typically the role of health preoccupation, reassurance-seeking and their impact on the quality of your life will also be assessed. Realistic goals will be agreed between the client and Psychologist.
Mindfulness & Relaxation Training:
Mindfulness and relaxation techniques are typically incorporated into the therapeutic approach to equip you with the necessary skills to help you to move on your preoccupation with health in small, manageable steps. Psychotherapy will always be at your pace and you will be supported at every stage of treatment. We hope that sessions will enable you to look forward to your future with far reduced symptoms of health anxiety.
Find out more about mindfulness here.
As part of a psychological treatment approach, levels of problematic symptoms will also be monitored over time. Typically, you will be asked to examine and question the utility of problematic thoughts, which maintain the symptoms of health anxiety. A number of useful strategies will be taught, in order to approach problematic thoughts in more helpful ways. Another area of intervention involves encouraging you to become more aware of the vicious circle of health preoccupation, focus on symptoms and reassurance-seeking.
Find out more about psychology here.