Health Anxiety - How Do You Manage?
Hello I am 59 years of age - I have had awful health anxiety for 22 years after a series of past medical traumas. Initially I was always going to doctor looking for reassurance whenever I had any symptom but found this just added to my anxiety so now I am a total avoider of doctors or medical tests now - will only go in case of emergency now, if at all because I just find the medical environment so triggering and traumatic. My last visit I had to take a valium just to get through the appointment.
So just wondering if anybody else has similar anxiety and wondering what strategies you use to cope or manage?
Wellcome to our forums!
Im sorry you have been going through this.
I understand I also suffered with health anxiety, just when I’d have a symptom of something on my body I’d go to the doctor to have it checked only to be told it was ok…….. I would still obsess over it…… then I’d forget about that symptom and move onto another one following the same cycle…….. I later learned in therapy that this was a compulsion of mine….. reassurance seeking….
Later in my life my anxiety became severe I’d still follow this same cycle……….
I did a mental health plan with my gp and I also went to a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist I was diagnosed with OCD.
I did a group therapy for my OCD and I’ve now mastered it and have now learned to disengage from the vicious cycle of OCD and life couldn’t be better…. I learned many strategies in this therapy.
Im not saying you have OCD it’s something I have a lived experience of that I’ve recovered from thanks to help I received from health professionals.
Some strategies….. practice mindfullness, meditation is great, thought challenging….. really practice being in the present moment.
Ive written two threads you may be interested in reading
From someone who suffered with OCD and recovered
Effective treatment for OCD Metacognitive Therapy
Please ask me any questions
The problem with triggers is they are usually by nature an unrealistic response to a memory. Being over reactive or knee jerry creates excessive defences and before you know it you've isolated yourself from people you actually need be it family, friends or in your case medical staff.
It was 1987 when, at 31yo I went through a similar experience. It took a 12 month stint to a therapist to guide me on the right track. His assessments led to guidance and much improvement. He taught me to ask myself "am I being realistic" with my fears. Also how to regulate my perspectives. And finally how to overcome anxiety.
So, I think you'd benefit from therapy a lot.
Also, please google the following threads and read the first posts.
Beyondblue topic worry worry worry
Beyondblue topic anxiety, how I eliminated it
Beyondblue topic meditation, he helped me for 25 years- Maharaji
Reply anytime. Love to know your thoughts
That’s ok HisOwn your definitely not alone….. I’m sorry you have to deal with OCD I understand how debilitating it can be sometimes.
I thought I would share something with you that may help you…. It takes practice though….. I was taught this during my OCD therapy and it has really helped me to know what my OCD cycle was and then once I knew I was getting caught up in my OCD cycle I was able to disengage from it by using my strategies.
Its called driving the new system
These intrusive thoughts/ urges/ images / images mean…….” Nothing”Im normal 94percent of people have them
Even if they seem or feel really awful! They still mean…. Still normal/ random activity
When I have an intrusion ( and I will) I can….
Let it go
Gentle dismiss as “my intrusion “
Be ok with uncertainty nothing is 100 percent certain
I don’t need to
Because they don’t mean anything “ thoughts mean nothing “
If I have a bad day ( get caught up in intrusive thoughts or compulsions) I can remind myself that OCD occurs on a sliding scale
Some days I am further along the scale than others.
If I keep working at driving my new system my good days will out weigh my bad days.
I hope this helps you 😊
Have you practiced meditation it was part of my therapy and it get me over the line.
Also practicing being present is really helpful I was always so engaged in my mind but I’ve now learned to be more present.
Once you realise when you are analysing your thoughts ect you can disengage by focusing your attention on the present moment.
After learning this system I was able to also not get caught up in my health anxiety because I learned it was part of my OCD cycle and I could disengage from my OCD cycle.
Please ask me anything 😊 I’m glad you are in therapy in helps…… my group therapy was great I realised then that I wasn’t alone many others have the same condition but there is Hope you can learn to break free of the OCD cycle 😊
i am in a similar boat to yourself I was at my GP or emergency at the hospital every week thinking I had some illness. If I got a pain the arm it was a heart attack a headache was a brain tumour. My family were getting fed up it was mums sick again I had every test my GP could think of nothing he referred me to a therapist who said keep busy, think of other things, mindfulness etc.
what helped me was once when I went to emergency with chest pain had lots of tests doctor said you have been here a lot have you ever thought you might be suffering stress and anxiety and health anxiety So I went home googled stress and anxiety symptoms and decided to do something, tried mindfulness but could not get the hang of it, then I got a jigsaw puzzle from op shop sat for hours finishing it, went back and bought more. Now when I feel stressed or anxious I get out a jigsaw puzzle even if I wake in the night I ge up and put a few pieces in, don't know why it helps me but I have not been to my GP or emergency since May
Thank you for your relatable post.
I myself do not suffer from health anxiety specifically but general anxiety disorder. A friend of mine however suffers from severe anxiety when entering hospitals and other medical centres due to trauma from cancer. To calm his anxiety he often takes a person he trusts with him. Or if by yourself, you can use basic meditation techniques. By calming ourselves down and separating the anxiety from the place it can help reduce the strength of a panic attack. Breathing techniques such as imagining your breath as a colour, bring along a stress ball, finding 5 things that are coloured orange in the medical centre can help take your mind off of your anxiety.
Also, by letting the doctors office know about your anxiety over the phone prior to your appointment, they may make your appointment faster and involve less or no small talk.
Love to hear from you!