Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. But people tend to get anxious for even the most minor things and can face many anxious moments in their lives. It can differ according to the person and situation. Therefore, several types of anxieties exist.
Have you ever heard of health anxiety? Health anxiety is a kind of worry or obsession regarding health. In other words, it is the fear of falling sick or ill. Health anxiety has many complications too. So, if you feel anxious quite often over the smallest health scare, it may be best to visit a doctor. In this article, we’ll look at the symptoms, tests, and ways to beat health anxiety.
What is health anxiety?
Health anxiety is also called hypochondria. It can be explained as a concerning health issue where the person feels extremely frightened of a mild illness. The extremity of it comes when, even after the doctor confirms its mildness, the person complicates the symptoms.
If you are sick or ill, your brain will send signals to your cells with that information. But, in the case of health anxiety, your mind prepares itself as if you are sick, even when you are not. Such stress may even lead to stress or depression. Not only does your mind get disturbed, but your life itself may seem chaotic with living with health anxiety.
Symptoms of health anxiety:
Let us look at the symptoms of health anxiety:
- Chest pressure
- Muscle tension or muscle stress
- Faster heartbeat
- Stomach ache
Causes of health anxiety:
A person may have health anxiety due to many reasons. Some of them are:
- Not fully understanding their bodily sensations
- Less understanding of the disease
- Seeing a family member/friend going through the same issue at present or in the past
- Childhood health trauma—one of the main reasons why, as an adult, the person may suffer from health anxiety
- A stressful or painful event in the person’s past
- Child abuse
- Suffering from a traumatic past with partners or family members
- Generally worrying personality
- Constantly or obsessively reading up (e.g., searching online) regarding their health
Like all health conditions, if this is treated in the early stages, complications can be avoided. So, consulting a doctor is highly recommended if you experience these symptoms.
Health Anxiety Test
People suffering from health anxiety or hypochondria are classified into two types. They are:
- Illness anxiety disorder
- Somatic symptom disorder
- Illness anxiety disorder:
A person is categorised under illness anxiety disorder when the symptoms are very mild or have no physical manifestation.
- Somatic symptom disorder:
A person who has multiple or complicated symptoms is suffering from somatic symptom disorder.
The doctor will perform a series of tests to determine the type of disorder the person is suffering from, such as:
- A whole psychological evaluation which encompasses the history of the patient’s family health conditions, experiences, and many more
- Psychological self-assessment session, to learn about the patient’s mindset
- Questions about the person’s routine and lifestyle to determine if there are any harmful habits like smoking, drinking, etc.
How can health anxiety be cured?
Health anxiety can be cured with time and certain procedures. Two reliable procedures administered for health anxiety are psychotherapy and medications.
One of the primary and common treatments for health anxiety is psychotherapy, especially CBT—Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. CBT is specifically chosen as it has the tendency to make the person manage the disorder.
- helps your body and mind to refrain from anxiety-inducing beliefs or worries
- helps your mind stay positive and have a different perspective about your bodily sensations
- helps you be aware of your body and its sensations
- gives a different view of how to respond to health anxiety
- helps you handle everything calmly and patiently
- stops you from constantly checking or worrying about your health unnecessarily
- will help the person realise the importance of distractions. Indulging in physical or sport activities can be a good choice.
Though psychotherapy is the standard treatment for health anxiety, some people may not find it entirely suitable. This is when medications come to the rescue.
Doctors mostly suggest antidepressants. For instance, they may prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors to help the person get relief from anxiety or stress. Make sure you consult a doctor before taking medications.
Tips on how to avoid using the smartphone and concentrate more on studying
Most of us, especially students, are distracted by smartphones. Since everything has become online-dependent, there are no choices left for us. It thus gradually becomes an addiction and may affect school and college education. Though we have willpower, it is natural to slip and get distracted at times. Fortunately, there are many easy ways to stay concentrated while studying without using smartphones.
- Make a schedule for studying and follow it:
To stay away from smartphones, prepare a schedule for learning and try following it to remain organised and scheduled as much as possible.
- Turn off the mobile notifications:
If you feel that smartphones are a huge distraction while studying, either you stay away or turn off its notifications entirely. You can thus uninterruptedly concentrate on your studies.
- No more smartphone presence:
If you think a smartphone’s presence may spoil your concentration, keep it away from reach. Fix a time, prepare a schedule, and do not touch your smartphone until that schedule gets over.
- ‘Do not disturb’ option is quite the choice:
Almost all Android or iOS mobiles have the “Do not disturb” feature. Turn it on and focus on your studies.
- Timer setting:
Use the timer application on your mobile phone. Set a time and follow it accordingly.
- Information is the key:
If you think your friends or family members will call you and ultimately distract you, let them know that you are studying. They can contact you later, and you can avoid checking your phone multiple times for notifications.
- Hand it over:
Most of us lock our mobile phones in drawers or shelves while studying. But, somehow, these happen to be a distraction as well. To avoid such distractions, it is always better to hand over your mobile phone to your parents or others and ask them to keep it for a while.
- Is health anxiety curable?
Yes. With the help of medication and therapy, health anxiety can be cured.
- What are the common symptoms of health anxiety?
The common symptoms of health anxiety are nervousness and fear.
- Is it normal to have health anxiety?
Yes. Health anxiety is normal and a common condition in people.
- How long does health anxiety last?
Health anxiety or hypochondria lasts up to 6-7 months.