How To Start Overcoming Health Anxiety

Generalized anxiety can lead to a lot of distressing physical symptoms, which our anxious minds can easily latch onto and turn into something they’re not. Our anxiety will tell us that those chest pains mean heart problems, or that dizziness means brain tumor.

Once we start down that line of thinking, we begin to be hyper aware and over analytical of every feeling in our bodies, only furthering the anxiety. But totally ignoring our health isn’t a great option either. It’s no wonder health anxiety is such a tricky thing to deal with.

So, what do we do?

First, let’s focus on what we should not do; look things up on the internet. Doing our research online will not only not give us the answers we need, but the answers we find might lead us to catastrophize even more.

Random people on the internet can’t diagnose you, WebMD can’t diagnose you, nobody who doesn’t have medical training and can examine you in person can have any idea what’s going on with you. You won’t get accurate info online, and more often than not the info you do get will be far more grim than reality.

The second step is to go see a doctor. Even if there’s nothing wrong with you, a doctor can at the very least provide some reassurance that you don’t have some major health problem. Go in with questions about exactly what’s concerning you, write them down if you have to, and get the reassurance you need.

Sometimes you might uncover some minor health problem that might not be serious, but still impacts how you feel. For example, a few years ago I went to the doctors for some unexplained dizziness, and it turned out I just had an excess of ear wax. A non-lethal problem, but it was impacting my quality of life, giving me anxiety, and ended up being a simple fix.

Thirdly, trust what your doctor has to say. These people are trained, they know what to look for, especially when it comes to many of the diseases and conditions we fear with health anxiety. If you need a second opinion, go for it, but don’t get caught in a loop of fearing that your doctor may have overlooked something because they didn’t run this test or that test.

If your doctor didn’t run a certain test, or refer you to a specialist, or whatever the case, that should be a good sign that they didn’t find anything worth investigating further. Remind yourself of this whenever you feel anxious, write it down if you need to. If there was something seriously wrong with you, your doctor would go beyond a simple check because something would have alerted them.

Finally, work with your therapist if you have one, especially if they specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy. Share with them your notes, or the results from your doctors visits if that’s something you’re comfortable with, and they can help you work through these anxieties with the hard evidence.

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