Coping With Health Anxiety: How to Stop Stressing About Your Health

woman in agony with her hands on her face

Health anxiety, also known as illness anxiety, affects a lot of people. It’s an irrational worry or obsessiveness about having severe medical conditions. People who suffer from this condition go to the hospital far too many times. As much as you should always be cautious about your health, you also need to recognize when nothing is wrong.

Constantly visiting your doctor will only increase your worries. The condition also used to be called hypochondria. People with unrealistic fears of having severe medical conditions are more at risk of getting ill. You have to find ways to cope and here are some tips:

  1. Therapy

There are different types of therapy that you can use to cope with illness anxiety.  If you feel like you are experiencing health anxiety or you have been diagnosed, visit a doctor. They will be able to suggest the best therapies you can try to manage the situation. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you modify your negative thoughts and behaviors. Talk therapy is also practical because illness anxiety can be a result of other fears in your life.

Desensitization is also used often with people experiencing health anxiety. It works by exposing you to what you are most afraid of. The condition can quickly get out of hand when you don’t find effective ways to cope. Getting reassurance from your doctor every time that nothing is wrong will bring you relief but only temporarily. You have to find a way you can manage the condition long-term. It won’t be easy when you start either of the therapies, but you will notice that it helps a great deal with time.

  1. Relaxation Techniques

If the therapy works for you, you may never need to know other coping methods. But some people don’t respond to therapy. You may wonder why some assisted living facilities¬†practice mind and body relaxation techniques. These activities help the elderly cope with their health anxiety. You should try relaxation techniques like yoga, rhythmic exercises, meditation, and deep breathing.

There are so many activities you can do to reduce stress symptoms. Sometimes you become very obsessive about your health because you are stressed about other things. If this is the case, managing stress will help you deal with the health anxiety disorder.

Pursue enjoyable activities or try verbalizing your frustrations and see if anything changes. When you are relaxed, you won’t be in the headspace to stress about your health. Most people who suffer from this disorder mainly focus on other diseases that are not there instead of focusing on what is there, illness anxiety. You can even get relaxation technique ideas from your doctor or therapist. They will go a long way, especially if the disorder is severe. You won’t be rushing to the emergency room every time you have a headache.

  1. Find Distractions

The more you focus on your body, the more you will discover sensations that can trigger your anxiety. Find health distractions to shift your attention. Every time you start feeling worried about your health, you should redirect your attention to other things. You can do different things like house chores, gardening, painting, or drawing that can distract you. You can also go hiking or on a bike ride around your neighborhood to get out of your head. Healthy distractions work for so many conditions and disorders.

Listen to some soothing music or play with your pet. Regardless of the activity, you should pay full attention. By the time you are done, time would have gone, and you can continue with your daily tasks. Sometimes these distractions may not work, especially when you are lying down at night. When this happens, try mindfulness exercises because they can also be distracting. Distractions are by far the most common response to day-to-day anxiety.

  1. Medications

    woman holding a bottle of medicine

Like any other disorder, you can get prescriptions from your doctor to cope. When these health worries start to interfere with your family and personal life, it’s time to seek professional help. You can get help from mental health professionals or your doctor. The health professionals will recommend medications. Antidepressants are commonly used for illness anxiety patients. These medications will ease symptoms of anxiety and depressed mood.

You should not take any medicines before you see a doctor. Sometimes the healthcare professional may feel like therapy is the best treatment for you. When the disorder is not very severe, the other coping methods will work perfectly. The lucky ones never have to use medications, but ensure you keep a positive attitude if you get to that point. Work closely with your doctor to see if the medicines are effective or not.

These are ways you can use to cope with health anxiety. However, just because you suffer from the disorder doesn’t mean you should ignore symptoms. When you feel sick, ensure you get help because it’s possible to have a medical condition even when you have the disorder.

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