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  • Writer's pictureCaitlin O'Dea

Tips to Manage Health Anxiety

Rates of health anxiety continue to increase in the U.S. Since the pandemic more Americans are being diagnosed with anxiety disorders. Health anxiety or illness anxiety disorder is a form of anxiety where people worry excessively that they are ill or may become seriously ill. People living with illness anxiety disorder experience normal bodily sensations and often label these sensations as pathological. The excessive worry about their health can often debilitate their daily functioning.

Signs you might be struggling with Health Anxiety

  • Do you worry excessively that you are sick or have a serious illness?

  • Do you visit the doctor, emergency room or urgent care often?

  • Do you find yourself doing body checks to see if you are feeling a certain symptom or if that symptom has gone away?

  • Even after being medically cleared, do you not trust the doctor’s opinion or seek second opinions from other doctors?

  • Do you find yourself searching the internet for causes of your symptoms?

If you find that some or all of these symptoms apply to you, then you may be struggling with health anxiety.

There are different risk factors that make people more susceptible to health anxiety. As with all anxiety diagnoses, people who have had a major life stressor are more likely to develop anxiety.

Other Risk Factors for Health Anxiety

  • Having had an illness that turned out to not be serious

  • History of abuse as a child

  • Parents or family members that had a serious illness

  • Excessive health-related internet use

The good news is that health anxiety, as with other anxiety diagnoses, is a treatable mental health issue. Psychotherapy particularly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be very effective in treating health anxiety.

Some Tips to Manage Health Anxiety:

  • Stay Active! Exercise in any form is proven to improve your mental health. A short walk every day is a good place to start.

  • Take steps to improve your nutrition. Even small changes in your diet can have a benefit on your mental health.

  • Learn about health anxiety! Instead of using the internet to research your symptoms, do more research on health anxiety. Understanding the symptoms can help ease your anxiety.

  • Start a journal. Using a journal can help to identify the triggers for your anxiety.

  • Develop healthy coping skills. Learning how to cope with anxiety can be hard. Try different methods such as yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises and see what works for best for you.

  • Put your thoughts on trial! Take the time to examine your thoughts about your health. Determine whether or not there is concrete evidence to support your thought.

Depending on the severity of your anxiety certain medications, such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may be beneficial as well.

The first step in managing your anxiety is reaching out for help. Talk with your primary care provider to start. There are also many agencies that can provide telehealth talk therapy as well as telehealth visits with a psychiatrist.

Our therapists at Rust Wellness Group are able to help with these concerns!

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