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Health Anxiety (hypochondriasis)

Nothing wrong with being mindful about your health. But this ain’t that. Health Anxiety, or Hypochondriasis, is characterized by an overwhelming fear of having a serious medical condition. It’s not just concern—it's a persistent dread that something is wrong with your body.

If you have Health Anxiety, you might feel like you're always on high alert, constantly scanning for symptoms and convinced that every ache or pain is a sign of something serious.

So you become overly focused on your health... particularly the things that seem out of the ordinary.

You might find yourself repeatedly checking your body, seeking reassurance from doctors, and endlessly researching symptoms online. Almost certainly, you’ll be replaying these worries in your mind, looking for signs you might have missed...

Our Clinical Psychologists can help you manage and reduce Health Anxiety symptoms, and support you in finding peace of mind.

Characteristics

Health/Illness anxiety involves excessive worry about having or acquiring a serious illness. You might misinterpret normal bodily sensations or minor symptoms as signs of a severe illness, despite medical evidence to the contrary.

 

The core feature of Health Anxiety is a persistent preoccupation with having or acquiring a serious disease. If you have Health Anxiety, your concern is often disproportionate to the actual risk presented by the your health status.

 

You will likely be prone to misinterpreting bodily symptoms. You may interpret common physical sensations, such as a minor ache or a fleeting pain, as signs of serious illness.

 

Chances are, you engage in doctor shopping and reassurance seeking behaviour. You might find yourself researching via Google, repetitively but without satisfaction. On the other hand, you might avoid medical appointments altogether. for fear of receiving bad news.

 

Ultimately, your excessive worry and associated behaviour very likely will have a negative impact on daily functioning. Health anxiety can interfere with daily activities, causing distress and impacting social, occupational, and other important areas of functioning.

Treatment for Health Anxiety

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for Health Anxiety. This approach helps you to recognise and change the thought patterns and behaviours that are ultimately perpetuating your anxiety.

Our Penrith Clinical Psychologists will tailor your treatment plan to address your unique challenges when it comes to managing Health Anxiety.

 

Your plan will very likely include cognitive techniques, such as those that help you to identify unnecessarily catastrophic thought patterns. You may also be learn to differentiate between normal bodily sensations, anxiety sensations, and symptoms of serious illness.

Critically, treatment in our Penrith clinic will involve encouraging behavioural change. Together with your Clinical Psychologist, you will be encouraged to gradually reduce reliance on ultimately maladaptive behaviour, such as excessive checking, reassurance-seeking, research, and avoidance. This should help you to reduce your preoccupation with illness, and therefore your distress.

At Boyce & Dale Anxiety and Mood Disorders Clinic, we ensure that each treatment plan is tailored to the individual's specific concerns and needs. The process involves thorough assessment and the development of a collaborative treatment plan, often incorporating exposure techniques to gradually reduce anxiety responses to health-related fears.

We look forward to helping. 

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