Anxiety and the emotion of being anxious is a common term we use in our daily life. Anxiety in the field of psychology is also a common mental illness. As a fact, there is more to anxiety than as a common mental illness.
Anxiety is a natural form of the defense mechanism of our mind. The purpose of the anxiety defense mechanism is to alert and signal our body and brain for the flight and fight mode.
Anxiety in its normalcy helps us recognize the potential danger through certain physical symptoms.
However, this natural mechanism turns into a disorder when it becomes excessive and difficult to control and as a result, you experience impairment and distress as well as certain anxiety physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, shivering, breathing issues, insomnia, loss of appetite, concentration, etc.
While anxiety is considered a form of obsessive thinking, moderate anxiety can be managed through exercise and coping mechanisms easily.
Although several individuals do recognize their anxiety. One of the forms of anxiety disorders that the majority of the people suffering from it refuse to accept is health anxiety.
Health anxiety is relatively a common disorder, presented in 4-5% of people as per the reported cases.
However, according to the experts, health anxiety is present among at least 12% but since individuals refuse to accept it and seek professional help, the majority of the cases go unreported.
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Hypochondria, also known as health anxiety, is a common mental disorder. As the name suggests people suffering from health anxiety, excessively worry about their health and perceive normal but harmless bodily changes as symptoms of a deadly disease.
In simple words, health anxiety occurs when an individual thinks he is destined to get a fatal illness which can be either genetic, contagious, or even something common but deadly such as multiple types of cancer and tumors.
As the worry of an illness occupies much of their cognitive process, the mind is heightened to perceive every small physical sensation.
Although staying in check with your physical health status is important, the situation gets out of hand when it becomes interference in life.
Individuals with such anxiety experience insomnia and troubled thoughts and absurd repetitive measures to protect themselves from the illness including obsessive cleaning, avoiding social interactions, use of prescribed medicines, an obsession of herbal medicines, and trying new and uncertified materials.
People with health anxiety persistently and obsessively think that they either have a fatal illness or will get one soon.
Other than obsessive thinking and perceiving normal bodily changes as symptoms, such individuals tend to turn the probability of a disease into a fact by googling symptoms and self-diagnosing.
After the certainty of their self-diagnosed disease, one of the repetitive behaviors of such individuals is visiting several specialists and insisting them to prescribe tests for revaluation of the reports.
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The difference between health anxiety and being cautious of disease with high genetic probability/ tendency is that individuals with health anxiety do not remain satisfied after clearing the physical examination.
The satisfaction of doctors green single for health is temporary and short-lived. As the bodily changes and sensations reoccur so does the vicious cycle of anxiety including research and self-diagnosing, the search for new doctors, and trial tests.
Whereas being cautious about the tendency of a genetic disease is just an attempt to suppress the progression and onset.
Common Symptoms of Health Anxiety:
Only 37% of people receive treatment for health anxiety becuse Individuals suffering from health anxiety do not agree with the fact that they may be suffering from a mental problem rather than a physical one.
Their heightened sense of observing every physical (yet harmless) change, creates a decisiveness about the existence of a single or more disease.
If you or your loved one show symptoms mentioned above, it is likely that the individual is suffering from health anxiety.
Health anxiety is fortunately a treatable mental disorder and divided into two categories:
Illness anxiety disorder is characterized by showing no physical symptoms and yet experiencing worrisome thoughts and obsessive compulsion to consult a physician.
Somatic symptom disorder is characterized by an obsessive focus on mild to moderate symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and weakness.
The obsession leads to emotional distress which promotes more physical symptoms and an overreaction to the situation.
Both categories of health anxiety can be treated through psychotherapy known CBT and in certain cases combined with medication.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is initiated after the physical evaluation and ruling out the probability of any physical disease as a confirmed diagnosis.
CBT is the most effective form of treatment for health anxiety. The model of this psychotherapy focuses mainly on our cognitive processes as in the inter-link between our thoughts and behaviors.
It helps us identify how the individual feels about a certain emotion, and based on the personal meaning of that situation, how differentially an individual reacts to it.
The concept behind CBT is that it is not the situation that causes anxiety but it is the meaning we perceive from the scenario.
CBT helps by assisting in overcoming the fear and irrational thoughts along with modifying the problematic and repetitive behaviors.
This approach also helps individuals develop coping mechanisms in situations of discomfort and uncertainty.
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Health anxiety is a treatable mental but if left untreated, creates ling-long discomfort and extensive medical bills.
Health anxiety can promote individuals for expensive test uncovered by the insurance, however still remains unsatisfied.
Health anxiety is the vicious cycle of worrisome thoughts you have or will definitely develop fatal diseases with and without apparent physical symptoms.
One of the clearest symptom of health anxiety is that you are not satisfied even after reassurance from the specialist and proper evaluation of the test reports.
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