Visit previous version of website http://old.neurosymptoms.org
FND Links Feedback Donate Language
  • English

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)

Treatment

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.

home window repair companies catonsville md window repair evanston replacement glass for windows window shade replacement parts replacements sell to us window stool replacement cost replacement windows climate guard window replacement parts replacement windows buying guide window replacements near me how to replace storm windows window repair cedar rapids iowa jalousie windows glass replacement portable ac replacement window bracket ebay replacement windows best replacement windows for colorado certainteed vinyl replacement windows find replacement windows window replacement riverside corsair c70 replacement window title 24 window replacement sliding window lock repair large window replacement ideas window well replacement near me alenco window replacement window repair daytona beach box frame window installation windows replacement chicago window repair 24 hour window repair clermont fl need new windows for my house window rubber gasket replacement windows replacement jackson glass scratch repair

how to lose weight on weight watchers fast hd diet pills gnc weight loss program for kids weight loss phentermine near me high fiber diet weight loss sample menu vegetarian diet plans to lose weight fast weight loss menopause nonprescription diet pills gastric balloon for weight loss eggs keto diet smoothie weight loss diet lose weight pills boots is it easier for men to lose weight does ace diet pills work does not eating make you lose weight dr ps grapefruit diet pills review safe amount of weight to lose in a week where does the fat go when you lose weight fat burning pills for men 21 day keto diet pdf is keto the best diet blake sheltons weight loss cellucor weight loss pills how long does it take to lose water weight carb cycling keto diet how to lose stress weight gain what diet pills help you lose weight fast did honey boo boo lose weight keto diet veggie list fast weight loss pills sold at walmart keto diet skeptic candice cameron bure before weight loss is corn on keto diet does medi cal cover weight loss programs

cannabidiol definition cbd oil i put that shit on everything ananda professional cbd oil is the use of cbd oil lega cbd oil and cancer leptomeningeal cancer could dr blain cbd oil help how much cbd for sleep pure kana cbd oil rating cbd oil moline il dragons cbd oil 900 mg cbd oil difference between cbc oil and cbd oil hemp oil skin acne how often take cbd oil cbd oil make you feel anxious does cbd oil require inhalation cbd oil and high cholestrial sacramento buy high cbd oil paste is cbd oil legal in taylor county real best cbd oil should i get essential oils or cbd oil best cbd oil pricing cbd oil physical therapy clinics colorado best hemp oil cbd oil arnica 200mg cbd oil do you have to keep taking it cbd oil and legal in alabama cbd hemp oil texas cbd oil in mcminnville free cbd oil prl cbd oil for end stage copd cbd oil in sunflowershoppe does cbd oil come up in a urine test cbd oil spray under tongue bocann

does fasting increase testosterone best penile enlargement pills what does viagra do if you dont have ed steroids increase testosterone viagra best buy best penis enhancement magnum sex pills pmma penis enlargement is a prescription required for viagra prescription male enhancement pills male sex vitamins largo penis enlargement cream supplements tablets how to have best male orgasm over the counter impotence drugs male enhancement pills xanogen male enhancement enduros do i need testosterone booster male enhancement lubricants sex pills shop near me best penis enlargement reviews big n hard male enhancement potency men review penis enlargement death korean sex pills natural male breast enhancement usn 17 testo testosterone booster focus fast pills reviews why use male enhancement pills sex pills for mens best 7 day male enhancement pills exotica male enhancement pills bad side effects of testosterone pills male enhancement pills max