You might be fine and going about your day like normal. Suddenly, you are triggered. Maybe you notice a new symptom or hear about a tragic health story.
You begin to imagine everything, from a terminal diagnosis to your funeral. And it completely ruins your day or week. Most or all of the time, your fears are never realized. The symptom goes away or wasn't anything serious. But then a new symptom emerges and you are back to square one. It's a vicious cycle.
Maybe you have no serious health concerns but you are still perpetually haunted by the possibility that some terrible disease is going to rob you of your life. Or, perhaps you do have a diagnosed medical problem and you live in constant fear of becoming debilitated or killed by this disease. Whichever it is, your fears loom over you and you are exhausted from having to be constantly vigilant and on the lookout for any “concerning” symptoms. And you wonder if it is possible to not have to live like this.
Ruminating over symptoms and envisioning the worst-case scenarios.
Spending excess money and time at the doctor’s office, urgent care or hospital (or avoiding).
Incessantly reading or watching videos about scary diseases.
Googling symptoms to identify any potential diseases you may have.
Searching your body for concerning symptoms.
Asking your friends and family repeatedly about symptoms.
Living in fear of death.
But just talking about it hasn’t made a big difference. You still wind up in the same old place, worrying about the serious disease that is going to take you down. There is a reason that just talking about things hasn’t helped much. You don’t need another listener. You need new skills.
What a lot of people with health anxiety don’t realize is this: you have thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that are actually making your health anxiety worse over time.
1. Improve thoughts by identifying and challenging thinking errors about symptoms and bodily sensations
2. Transform core beliefs into more adaptive beliefs about health by learning to change how your brain processes information
3. Replace unhelpful behaviors with adaptive behaviors through exposure and response prevention
Be able to notice a symptom and still go about your day like normal because you see the probability and impact of serious disease more realistically.
Be free to spend your time and money enjoying life instead of ruminating about symptoms, going to the doctor often, reading about diseases or checking your body for symptoms.
Enjoy healthier relationships with your loved ones that are not strained from the impact of your health anxiety.
Be less afraid of death and more able to enjoy the life you have today.