Health Anxiety Physical Symptoms, Treatment

Introduction

We are discus about Health Anxiety Physical Symptoms, Treatment, and Types in this article. In this trending world of health consciousness and fitness with a perfect body shape, people usually get over concerned with their physical being. Health Anxiety Physical Symptoms disorder.

This concern in medical terms is called hypochondria or health anxiety. This is a situation that occurs when a person thinks excessively over his / her health. They think even with or without presence of any physical symptoms that they are suffering from some serious and deadly disease. Even a complete medical check of the body doesn’t suffice to make them understand. This continued health or illness anxiety builds up over time to cause severe health issues. It affects the person and this, in turn, disturbs the normal working of his life. Many times cases are reported where a serious condition gets developed due to the problem of overthinking of the patient. This is a serious psychic problem since what we think is actually what we become. And this probably suits the best in the field of medical science. Hence, if not cured on time, this becomes a long-term condition that keeps on getting severe with age and time.  So, the best yet long process to treat the condition is via psychotherapy. A detailed discussion on the types, causes and treatments for this long-term condition is done below. So, to start with let us first know the various types of health anxiety that exists. 

Types

Having known in brief about health anxiety, now let us know about its types. The types are actually based on the presence of symptoms, the patient’s reaction to a situation, and the medical significance of the symptoms. Hence, based on these differences, actually, health anxiety is of two main types.

Somatic symptom disorder

Somatic symptom disorder is a condition when the person suffering from it senses some symptoms like aches and tiredness. Though upon medical examination no medical significance for the presence of any serious condition comes out of these symptoms. Yet the person keeps on feeling like he might be suffering from a severe underlying condition. They start to think so much about the symptoms that it creates a negative thought aura around them. After some point of time, it even starts to interfere with their daily living leading sometimes to even depression. Besides, if they find some health problem in them then they create havoc among themselves and get mentally ill more. The disorder just does not stops themselves, they even conduct multiple visits to doctors and perform various tests to confirm their condition. But if nothing occurs then also they fail to believe it. They move on to another doctor and another round of medical tests. 

Illness anxiety disorder

Similar to the Somatic symptoms disorder is another disorder called the illness anxiety disorder. This is a condition that develops when a person overthinks too much even about the normal functioning of his body. All the voluntary activities of the body like digestive sounds, bloating, and sweating is a things to be suspicious about for him. No actual symptoms exist in patients with this disorder. But they mentally make up their minds to find some or other severe illness in them. They may also go for multiple visits to the doctor for check-ups but negative results won’t suffice their thinking. This with time grows to make them mentally ill and hence disturb their normal living.

Symptoms

Based on the types, the symptoms of each of type of health anxiety are different. The symptoms of each of them are mentioned below.

Somatic symptom disorder

In this condition, usually, symptoms exist but they don’t belong to some severe condition. But the problem is not the presence of pain, tiredness, or shortness of breath but the problem is the excessive overthinking that is done upon them. Some of the common signs and symptoms to alert you of this condition are mentioned below.

  • Constantly taking stress about the possible illnesses.
  • Repeatedly conducting tests and check-ups to find the reason behind the symptoms experienced.
  • Showing more symptoms and problems due to any medical condition than is expected.
  • Due to overthinking, becoming less responsive to medical treatment but more sensitive to medical side effects.
  • Reducing physical activity by thinking that it may harm your body.

Illness anxiety disorder

Since here there is preoccupation found in the thinking of the patient that he is severely ill. So, he considers even normal body sensations as severe symptoms. Some of which are mentioned below.

  • Skipping meeting people and attending gatherings due to fear of health risks.
  • Constantly thinking and discussing the health condition and possible illnesses.
  • Frequent internet browsing about the causes behind symptoms experienced.
  • Frequently checking the body for possible signs and symptoms and conducting medical check-ups.
  • Worrying too much about normal body sensations.
  • Already confirming yourself that you are suffering from some serious illness.
  • Thinking so much about your health condition that you start disturbing your regular life.

So, with the proper evaluation of the symptoms experienced you can easily get alert. It can help you understand if you are ill or are just overthinking. Even if you are overthinking and suffering from health anxiety then which is the one that has affected you.

Causes

Now, having known so much about the condition, health anxiety, what it is and how to recognize it. Now it’s time we know what are the causes behind its development. Why do they occur and disturb the mental peace of the person? So, the major and popularly identified causes of health anxiety are mentioned below. The causes of each of its types are discussed underneath.

Somatic symptom disorder

Some of the commonly considered causes of this disorder are mentioned below.

  • If you have a genetic problem then it may make you more sensitive to pains. This over sensation can make you feel stressed about any unknown condition.
  • In case you have the trait of seeing negativity in most of the situations of your life, then there are high chances that you will get negative thoughts when you experience any pain or symptom.
  • Due to a lack of awareness about the problems processing symptoms, you may put more focus on the symptoms instead of paying attention to your emotional health.
  • Due to not knowing about the cause of symptoms properly and having an extra fear within. If you stop involving yourself in physical activities, then the chances for your condition to worsen will rise.

Illness anxiety disorder

Though the exact causes of the disorder are not known, some of the causes can be some situations as mentioned below.

  • It may happen that you have faced some severe illness in your childhood days or recent past. The fear that had developed by suffering from the condition may make you feel that even mild symptoms belong to some serious health condition.
  • The family has a major role to play here. If you have members in your family who worry too much about your health, then there are high chances for you to develop the same concern.
  • It may happen due to the feedback that acts in your mind due to some past uncomfortable situations faced you. This can lead you to think that each body sensation you feel belongs to some serious illness.

Diagnosis

Being aware of the symptoms is not enough to confirm the condition. To get started with medical treatment it is important to medically confirm or diagnose the condition. The most common way used for the diagnosis of health anxiety is mentioned below. Let us have a proper look at it. There is no specific medical test discovered at present to confirm the presence of health anxiety in you. But since, since you have the fear of various health illnesses associated with your symptoms. So, your doctor may take the option of rejecting to proceed. Under this method, your doctor will perform tests to rule out the presence of any of your thought diseases and then will suggest you the right path for your treatment. The most common step taken by doctors to treat such patients is by recommending them to psychotherapists. We will know about it in detail in the further section of the article.

Treatments

After a proper diagnosis is performed by your doctor to rule out the presence of any serious health condition and identify that you are suffering from your health anxiety. Your doctor may suggest psychotherapy with certain specific medications to treat you well.

Psychotherapy

The most effective and common method used for treating patients suffering from health anxiety is psychotherapy. In this method, the patient is recommended by the doctor after proper diagnosis to an experienced psychological counselor or therapist. Based on the severity of the condition, counseling can also work. But if the situation is beyond the treatment via counseling sessions, then it is important to go for therapies. The most commonly used therapy is CBT which is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Using this therapy the patient is taught the ways and skills he can use to manage the symptoms he experience and also the developed disorder. This therapy can be performed or attended either in groups of similar patients or individually. Whatever works for you is given to you by your therapist. Besides CBT, there are also available some therapies to help you. Some of such therapies include exposure therapy and behavioral stress management. These have proven to be helpful for many patients but the success of the treatment depends on the acceptance power of the patient. If the patient doesn’t respond well to the therapy then some medications are also included in the treatment process.

Medication

Though psychotherapy is the actual method used to treat any patient with health anxiety, yet if the patient doesn’t respond well to the therapy then the doctor may prescribe some medicines to help. Some of the common medications used and prescribed by doctors to help in the treatment process include antidepressants and mood enhancing pills. Usually, these medications help in these cases, but there may also be present certain components that can cause side effects. So, it is important to let your doctor know thoroughly about your condition before he prescribes you the medicines.

Prevention

After accumulating proper knowledge about the condition from its symptoms to its treatment. Now let us lastly know how we can prevent it from developing. Though very little is still known about how to prevent them but some suggestions can be followed. Since each type has separate symptoms with some similarities among them. We will know about the prevention of both of them separately.

Illness anxiety disorder

  • Try getting professional psychological help or counseling as soon as you understand that you are getting excessively stressed about your normal body sensations. This helps to prevent your symptoms from getting severe and provides early relaxation from the condition.
  • Include in your daily life some stress management activities to help you avoid the effects of stress. Unless you take steps to control this, its symptoms will take control over your body and affect you.
  • Follow the provided treatment plan properly to avoid the recurrence of the condition. Besides, it also helps to prevent the condition from worsening and ensures you enjoy a normal and healthy life.

Somatic symptom disorder

The symptoms mentioned above for the prevention of illness anxiety disorder also fit in here. But since some form of symptoms like pain, fatigue, and breathing issues exists in this disorder so, we need to follow some other prevention methods also for help. Some of such techniques are mentioned below.

  • When you start feeling that the symptoms you are experiencing belong to this disorder, you should immediately take steps for its treatment. This not only helps to prevent the condition from worsening but also helps treat it on time.

Conclusion

Health anxiety is a severe mental health illness, which people usually don’t understand. Instead, they start mixing it up with physical health conditions. This condition unless treated professionally with the help of a counselor or psychotherapist keeps affecting your health and body. With time it even starts interfering with your normal living. So, to prevent it from controlling your life we recommend you to follow the above-mentioned prevention methods and lead a healthy and happy life ahead.

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