People who experience health anxiety tend to be overly concerned about their physical or mental health, and often have a fear of an early death.
Of course, most of us are concerned about our health, but most of us know when we are well, and when it is important to get the doctor’s advice.
Furthermore, for most of us, if the doctor says there is nothing to worry about, we feel reassured and get on with our lives.
For health anxiety sufferers, no amount of reassurance from loved ones, internet research, or doctors is ever sufficient to allay their fears.
In fact there is always one more site to check, one more doctor to see and one more blood test to be run.
I’ve worked with psychotherapy clients who have spent tens of thousands of pounds on private medical investigations, but even this doesn’t bring closure.
Unsurprisingly, once health anxiety gets a hold, quality of life tanks.
Fortunately health anxiety can be treated with cognitive behavioural psychotherapy (CBT), and this doesn’t mean ignoring your body and its ailments.
On the contrary, it involves relearning how to take good care of your body, and your mind, and stopping making yourself ill with worry.
CBT psychotherapy for health anxiety involves the careful observation of the pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviours the person experiences.
Once we have a shared agreement about how your particular health anxiety ‘works’, we can start to introduce new techniques to help you cope better.