Learn the common symptoms and treatments of health anxiety, and how professional help from an experienced anxiety therapist can provide lasting relief.
Health anxiety is a common problem in today’s world. With access to endless medical information on the internet and social media, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and fearful of potential health problems. Is your health anxiety interfering with your daily life? It might be time to seek professional help. Health anxiety exists when a person is excessively preoccupied with their physical health. Leading to frequent visits to the doctor or emergency room, and persistent fears of having a serious illness. In this article, we will explore the different aspects of anxiety concerning your health. As well as its causes, symptoms, and how to manage it with anxiety therapy.
What is Health Anxiety?
Health anxiety is characterized by excessive fear and worry about having a serious medical condition. People who suffer from health anxiety are often preoccupied with and focused on minor bodily sensations. Such as a headache, nausea, or muscle pain, which they interpret as signs of a severe illness. They may also need to check their bodies constantly for any signs of illness and seek reassurance from doctors or other experts even when they have little or no symptoms.
The causes of health anxiety are yet to be fully understood. However, research suggests that multiple factors. Genetics, environment, and life experiences may contribute to its development. For some, a family history of anxiety or depression can increase the risk of developing anxiety on their health. Certain life experiences, such as traumatic events or chronic illness, can also contribute to the development of this disorder.
Symptoms of Health Anxiety
The symptoms of health anxiety can vary from person to person. It can be physical, emotional, or behavioral. Physical symptoms may include insomnia, fatigue, muscle tension, headaches, and stomach problems. Emotional symptoms can include fear, worry, anxiety, depression, and irritability. Behaviorally, somebody struggling with this kind of anxiety may repeatedly check their health status. Or they may visit the doctor frequently, and search for medical information online.
Managing anxiety in your health can be challenging. Sometimes, it can be so ingrained. However, there are several effective techniques that can help people manage their anxiety.
Techniques For Managing Health Anxiety
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one treatment for managing health anxiety. It involves talking with a trained mental health therapist who helps the patient identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that trigger anxiety. CBT focuses on challenging the patient’s beliefs about their health and educating them on how to interpret bodily sensations without feeling overwhelmed. The primary goal of CBT is to help patients gradually reduce their fear of illness and live life normally.
Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy
Exposure and response prevention therapy is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). One that is used to treat anxiety disorders. ERP involves exposure to situations or objects that trigger anxiety. Paired with the prevention of anxiety-provoking behaviors or responses. With health anxiety, the exposure might involve confronting feared medical situations. Like doctor appointments or medical equipment. Response prevention could involve refraining from checking your symptoms excessively, researching medical conditions, or seeking reassurance from others.
ERP is effective for anxiety disorders. As it helps individuals to confront their fears in a gradual and safe way. While avoiding the anxiety-provoking behaviors that typically maintain the anxiety. With health anxiety, the individual learns to tolerate uncertainty and to adopt a more balanced and rational perspective of their physical health. Rather than relying on constant reassurance-seeking or symptom monitoring to manage their anxiety, the individual learns to manage their thoughts and physical sensations, which ultimately reduces their anxiety.
How ERP Therapy and Therapists Work Together
During ERP therapy, the individual works closely with a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders. Who guides them through exposure to their feared situations. The therapist will set specific goals and a hierarchy of exposure exercises that the individual will do at their own pace. As they gain confidence in confronting their fears, the therapist and the individual will work together to challenge the anxiety-provoking behaviors and responses. Thus, helping the individual to develop coping skills and tolerate the uncertainty of their physical health.
ERP therapy can be challenging. As confronting fears can feel uncomfortable and distressing. It’s important for individuals to work with a trained and licensed therapist with experience with anxiety disorders and understand that ERP is a gradual process. It’s also important to remember that everyone’s experience with anxiety is unique and that recovery is a process.
Mindfulness training involves focusing one’s awareness on the present moment. To acknowledge and accept one’s feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations without judgment. Mindfulness-based therapies have proven to be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms. As well as improving the quality of life of people with anxiety. By practicing mindfulness, people with anxiety learn to let go of the constant anxiety and enjoy the present moment.
In some cases, medications may be prescribed to manage the symptoms of health anxiety. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are often used to treat the symptoms of depression and anxiety that are often associated with health anxiety.
However, medication alone may not be sufficient to manage health anxiety effectively. Therefore, it’s essential that people with health anxiety take medication under the supervision and guidance of a qualified healthcare professional and seek out a therapist to help them learn effective coping strategies.
Regular exercise has been shown to be beneficial. As it reduces anxiety levels and promotes overall well-being. Exercise works by releasing endorphins. Which are natural mood boosters that help reduce stress and anxiety. As such, incorporating exercise into one’s routine may help people with anxiety to relax and reduce their anxiety levels.
Finally, self-care plays a crucial role in managing health anxiety. It is essential to get enough sleep, eat healthily, and engage in activities that bring joy and relaxation. It’s also important to be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion.
Your Anxiety May Be Overwhelming, But it is Treatable
In summary, health anxiety can be overwhelming, but it is treatable. Treatment options such as CBT, ERP, mindfulness, medication, exercise, and self-care strategies can help manage its symptoms. It’s crucial to seek help from qualified professionals to find the most effective treatment strategy for you. Remember that with the right treatment, anxiety is manageable. You can learn to live a more relaxed and fulfilling life.
Ready To Start Anxiety Therapy in Atlanta, GA?
Take control of your well-being and embrace the support of anxiety therapy. Break free from the grip of health anxiety, conquer your worries, and regain peace of mind by working with our skilled therapists at Informed Therapy Group. Empower yourself and embark on a journey towards a healthier, happier life by following these three simple steps:
- Contact Informed Therapy Group
- Schedule your complimentary consultation with one of our skilled anxiety therapists
- Begin seeing positive changes in your life and start feeling better!
Other Services Offered at Informed Therapy Group
At Informed Therapy Group we understand that you may be struggling with more than just your anxiety symptoms and want to focus on other mental health struggles. In addition to anxiety therapy, our online Atlanta, GA practice offers therapy for stress management, depression therapy, and therapy for grief and loss. We also specialize in couples therapy, pregnancy counseling, and postpartum therapy. To learn more about Informed Therapy read About Us, FAQs, and our blog!