Is health anxiety real? 

Over the last few years health anxiety has become a topic spoken about a lot more. 

Health anxiety can affect anyone and when you have it you think that harmless physical symptoms are signs of serious disease. Health anxiety is an obsessive and irrational worry about having a serious medical condition.

If you have health anxiety you might:

  • feel constantly preoccupied with having a serious illness
  • constantly worry about your health
  • regularly look at health information online, researching symptoms and trying to find a diagnosis
  • constantly need reassurance from your GP, friends and family that you’re not ill

There’s no exact cure for health anxiety but some factors that may contribute include:

  • a poor understanding of body sensations, diseases, or both of these things
  • a family member or members who worried excessively about their health or your health
  • past experiences dealing with real serious illness in childhood that may make you more afraid in adulthood 

Treatment for health anxiety focuses on improving your symptoms and ability to function in daily life. Typically, treatment involves psychotherapy, with medications sometimes added.

The most common treatment for health anxiety is psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT can be very effective in treating health anxiety because it teaches you skills that can help you manage your disorder. 

Benefits of CBT include:

  • identifying your health anxiety worries and beliefs
  • learning other ways to look at your body sensations by changing unhelpful thoughts
  • raising your awareness of how your worries affect you and your behaviour
  • responding to your body sensations and symptoms differently
  • learning to better cope with your anxiety and stress
  • learning to stop avoiding situations and activities because of physical sensations
  • avoiding examining your body for signs of illness and repeatedly looking for reassurance that you’re healthy
  • boosting your functioning at home, work, or school, in social settings, and in relationships with others
  • checking whether or not you’re suffering from other mental health disorders, like depression or bipolar disorder

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be suffering from health anxiety you can book a private appointment with prices starting from £225 for a consultation. To find out more about CBT at Pall Mall visit our website

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