Ever since Viren had a bout of sore throat it has been so difficult for him to get off the thought of suffering from throat cancer. Little irritation or pain in the throat and he starts checking on internet for symptoms of throat cancer. He has changed number of doctors, specialists’, investigations – all seem to be well except Viren…..
-Dr Sunita Patel
Most of us worry about our health from time to time, and some of us have to manage serious medical conditions but for some people, health worries become overwhelming and a problem in itself.
Lots of people live in constant dread that they either have or will get a terrible disease. They focus on their “symptoms”, which often are simple small differences from the norm. Fatigue becomes a sure sign of cancer, headache is interpreted as a brain tumour and indigestion is a sign that you are having a heart attack.
=Are you preoccupied with a recurring thought of having a serious illness because of body symptoms?
=Do you feel compel to carry out constant self-examination and self-diagnosis?
=Do you doubt your doctor’s diagnosis?
=Do you keep hopping doctors because you think they don’t get your problem?
=Do you constantly need reassurance from doctors, family and friends that you are fine, even if you don’t really believe what you are being told?
=Is the preoccupation affecting your personal, work and social life?
=Have you felt distressed due to this preoccupation?
If all this is happening for more than six months you may be suffering from Health anxiety or sometimes called Hypochondria.
Hypochondria is excessive worrying about your health, to the point where it causes great distress and affects your everyday life. People with hypochondriasis over-use doctors, goggle diseases, check their skin under magnifying lenses, ask for reassurance, pray for help from God that they won’t die, and live in constant worry about something they really don’t have.
What causes Health Anxiety?
The reasons why someone worries so much about health can be many such as,
=There may have been an incurable disease or death in the family.
=ver in childhood may be worried excessively about your health.
=Currently going through some stressful time.
=A personality trait of worrying
=Difficulty in accepting uncertainty
=Equating uncertainty with catastrophe
=Can be a symptom of a mental health condition such as anxiety disorder or depression.
How to tackle
Health anxiety is a common condition that leads to over-utilization of medical services, including laboratory tests and procedures that are likely in the long run to worsen this psychological condition. What is important to understand is that these worries reflect an emotional problem which requires particular treatments of an emotional sort.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for any form of anxiety, including health anxiety. CBT focuses on our cognition, or the way we think, and our behaviours, or the way we act. A trained counsellor helps the person to understand the “meaning” he or she is giving to the sensations and feeling and methods to cope with them and empower them to change unhealthy thoughts.
Dr. Sunita Patel, personal counselor, psychotherapist, homeopath can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org