People who experience health anxiety often worry excessively about their health or fear that they have a serious illness despite there being no reason to think so. This can cause a lot of distress and disrupt everyday life. People with health anxiety can have an existing medical condition that they are overly concerned about, have unexplained symptoms, or simply be fearful about their future health. Symptoms may include physical symptoms that don't have a medical explanation, frequent visits to the doctor, fear of getting sick, fear of reoccurring diseases, fear of catastrophic outcomes, consulting multiple doctors, undergoing diagnostic tests, and engaging in safety behaviors such as excessive hand-washing.
If you find yourself getting preoccupied about your health for no obvious reasons, or spend a lot of time symptom searching or carrying out medical tests for reassurance, it's important to seek professional help. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Schema Therapy and mindfulness-based interventions are all effective treatments for health anxiety. The roots of health anxiety can vary, from experiencing high levels of anxiety in other aspects of life, to being modelled this type of behavior by a parent, to growing up either overprotected or without a sense of safety. No matter the source, it's important to reach out for support.