Download FND app Android Aapp IoS App
FND Links Feedback Donate Language

Health Anxiety

This page explores the idea of ‘health anxiety’ a little more. You might want to read about anxiety and worry generally if you haven’t done already

The commonest cause of anxiety or worry in patients with functional symptoms is worry about the symptoms themselves. What are they due to? Why doesn’t anyone seem to believe me? Am I going mad? Is it something serious? Will I become disabled in the future?

..the patient knows that these worries about the possibility of sinister disease are irrational but they can’t shake them off…

These questions are understandable questions for people with symptoms to ask. When you go to the doctor you hope to be given an explanation about whats wrong with you.

Difficulties can arise however when

  1. The doctor doesn’t give an explanation. The doctor may say, “theres nothing to worry about”, or “its stress related” (which might not sound like a good explanation if you are not feeling stressed). These kinds of explanations leave patients wondering what is wrong with them.
  2. The patient doesn’t believe the explanation they have been given. For example a doctor may tell a patient that their headaches are due to migraine or analgesic overuse but for them, the pain seems much worse than that and they remain convinced that they have a brain tumour.
  3. The patient does believe the explanation but then irrational anxieties keep coming back (Health Anxiety). Some patients are given a reasonable explanation for their symptoms, and they feel temporarily reassured. But typically this feeling of reassurance only lasts a few days before doubts about the diagnosis and all the questions above start to resurface.

Usually the patient knows that these worries about the possibility of sinister disease are irrational but they can’t shake them off. They may become increasingly anxious about whats going on and start to attend different doctors to get other opinions or simply to obtain reassurance. They may start attending out of hours services or accident and emergency departments .

Meanwhile increasing levels of anxiety about symptoms is making them worse, typically with worsening dizziness, headache and tiredness.

Increasing symptoms drives some patients to try to self diagnose themselves using the internet. This can throw up new and more frightening possiblities.

This last scenario is called health anxiety. Its actually very common, but difficult for patients and doctors to discuss. The concept of being a ‘hypochondriac’ is one which is generally stigmatised in our society

But having health anxiety is actually very distressing for the person concerned. Their symptoms are very real, if they weren’t they woudn’t be causing so much worry.

Only a small proportion of patients with functional disorders have high levels of health anxiety. Much of the health anxiety that doctors attribute to patients with functional disorders comes from the fact that the patients have never been given an explanation of any sort for their symptoms (so its hardly surprising that they continue to feel anxious about them)


Health anxiety can only be treated once the patient and the doctor identify that it is present.

Once they realise this is the case, it’s important for the doctor to stop offering simple reassurance. These will only have a temporary effect and will need repeating.

Instead the doctor should work on explaining things in such a way that the patient has an explanation of the symptoms that ‘fights off’ alternative, more alarming explanations.

The patient, for their part may need to agree not to look at health information on the web or in books, and not seek other medical opinions.

Sometimes health anxiety can resolve quite dramatically and successfully once the patient knows what it is. But getting to that stage can be difficult.

Read Ian’s Story on the Cases page for a description of what it’s like to have health anxiety.

Radio 4 broadcast a programme on health anxiety as part of their “Am I Normal” series. this has some really good patient experiences on it and explains how it can be improved

There is more information at Anxiety UK  and in an excellent self help leaflet download from Northumberland NHS Trust.

The video below is an episode of the show “Insight” from Australian TV network SBS – it was broadcast on 13th Sep 2016. For the first twenty minutes it highlights two patients with health anxiety which is mainly cognitive, ie they spend a lot of time thinking and being distressed by ill health thoughts.

cbd oil 250mg how to test cbd oil potency buy cbd oil in indiana cbd oil new hampshire minor cannabidiol para que sirve 2000 mcg cbd oil reviews best cbd oil will cbd oil show positive for thc on salyva test cbd oil willie nelson whats the half life of cbd oil thc oil tennessee how much cbd oil to kill pain able farms cbd oil spray what to know when buying first cbd oil legal to sell cbd oil in arkansas sandy springs cbd oil manufacturers cbd oil sanjay gupta cnn best cbd thc oil kingdom hall cbd oil cbd oil for benign tumors ie cbd oil cbd oil makee me twitch do homeopathic shops sell cbd oil full spectrum cbd oil vs isolate professional man taking cbd oil hemp seed oil wood finish cbd oil seizures united states government denial charlettes web cbd oil cbd oil percentage of absorption cbd oil 55108 cbd brand cbd oil cbd oil dose for fibromyalgia raw cbd oil vs cbd oil cbd oil bloomington il cbd oil hepatotoxicity cbd oil heated or rae cbd oil ill llegal in texas school teaching about cbd oil

rate the best replacement windows repair rotten wooden window frame home window repair in milton florida area repair window xp pro window repairs nj patriot windows replacement cost to repair windows cost of home window replacement spokane sliding door glass replacement cost mi replacement windows reviews home window replacement companies wi window glass repair vancouver home window replacement tucson az best energy efficient replacement windows energy star home window replacement discounts wood window sash replacement kits andersen replacement windows sizes window repair huntsville al pella replacement sash kit window repair shop redruth replacement windows siding 2002 grand prix power window repair replacement windows in florida window replacement mississauga window glass replacement minneapolis buying replacement window how much for window replacement replace a window pane fogged window replacement cost home window repair meridian idaho anderson window replacement cranks home window repair west plains mo horizontal sliding window repair home window replacement 85138 menards window repair best replacement windows pyramid window repair richardson tx home window repair tampe

how to help cat lose weight how to reverse insulin resistance and lose weight weight loss spa fuel diet pills best fish for weight loss herbalife weight loss product plant based diet meal plan for weight loss black and yellow diet pills hashimoto weight loss success foods that make you lose weight keto diet plans free houston weight loss inositol weight loss success keto diet sources of fat topamax dose weight loss yellow pills lose weight does depression causes weight loss medication for weight loss keto diet experience best weight loss pill available weight loss pills in stores sletrokor diet pills reviews new diet pills garcinia cambogia weight loss goal kardashian diet pills bliss diet pills reviews venom weight loss pills dr oz fat burning pills how many calories can you have on the keto diet three month weight loss top ten diet pills for women sota weight loss cost acomplia diet pills parkinsons and weight loss turbo slim diet pills vegetables keto diet keto diet and weightlifting creative bioscience 30 day diet pills side effects

cialis 5mg price comparison viagra hard order cialis canada sex enhancement young guys cialis medicine mens testosterone pills sold at vitamin world what countries sell viagra over the counter booster capsules tyrosine libido swiss navy testosterone booster over the counter for ed number one male penis enlargement science fenugreek as testosterone booster libido boosters for men steel cut male enhancement pills male inhasment supplements male libido what helps viagra work better best dick enhancement pills animal testosterone booster reviews male enhancement pills reviews yahoo after before enlargement penis reviews of testosterone pills penis pill enlargement ed drugs from india drugs to increase sex drive in men penis enlargement surgery seattle what male enhancement pills does gnc sell permanent male enhancement supplements top 20 male enhancement pills cialis generic available you kids want to buy some penis enlargement pills ask yahoo penis enlargement pills penis enlargement pills vitamin shoppe a how to know erectile dysfunction 10 ten pills that give men a enlarged penis pomegranate pills erectile dysfunction