Health Anxiety and Trusting Your Instincts
Many of us have felt guilty for obsessing over our health. Health anxiety isn’t always a terrible thing, though. It’s normal to experience health concerns, and it’s possibly better to worry excessively than not enough.
When does fear of health become pure fear? When and how should you speak up for yourself to reduce the stigma associated with obtaining care?
According to University of Chicago data, more than 40% of Americans frequently put off going to the doctor. And the results of it can be stunning. For instance, frequent screenings and basic treatment could avert 30 to 50 per cent of cancer-related fatalities. Before getting a proper diagnosis and treatment, persons with autoimmune disorders typically endure more than 4 years of suffering.
Therefore, having health worries and taking even minor concerns seriously is undoubtedly healthy.
Anxiety can be a Double-Edged Sword
Although this does not at all imply that anxiety is “in your mind,” it is true that anxiety can result in physical symptoms. On the other hand, it can be difficult to avoid having noticeable physical symptoms while you are experiencing severe anxiety. Owing to the mind and body interaction, health anxiety has two drawbacks. However, due to its impacts on multiple physiological systems, it can also make real problems worse by making you more aware of them.
The effects of anxiety on the nervous system and other bodily functions can lead to or exacerbate the following health symptoms:
- Tense muscles
- Stomach discomfort and digestive issues
- Migraines and headaches
It will help if you can show that you have taken all reasonable steps to lessen your anxiety if you don’t think anxiety is the cause.
How can you tell if your health anxiety is exaggerating the circumstances?
It is more likely that it is not “simply health anxiety” because the following are true for you.
- The beginning of symptoms did not correspond to any significant stressors or life events.
- The symptoms do not match recognised mind-body sensations (listed above).
- Symptoms are producing problems in my life (not just annoying or interesting).
- My problem is ongoing rather than passing by.
- I’ve got good coping skills for my anxiety.
Focus on the Ways you Manage your Health Anxiety
Since doctor’s consultations are so brief, a doctor may occasionally mention anxiety because it is frequently ignored and has the potential to result in physical problems.
Your doctor can address the next most likely cause if it’s obvious that you understand how worry may affect your symptoms and you’ve tried to treat it. So, describe to them how you deal with your nervousness. Here are some things you could be doing or thinking about trying before you rule out anxiety as the source of your symptoms:
Therapy, supplements for psychiatric medication, yoga and mindfulness practice.
Know When to Trust your Gut/Instinct
Although having health anxiety doesn’t mean you’re making it up, it can help you become aware of problems with your health before they become “clinical.” Doctors might ignore patients who report concerns in their early stages since the healthcare system isn’t designed for preventative treatment and leans more toward reactionary care.
This casualness is understandable at times. In the majority of health systems, resources are scarce, and physicians are required to choose priorities. Costly testing and treatment are the norms. In other cases, a doctor’s denial of symptoms is illogical. It takes skill to recognise when to demand additional testing and medical treatment.
However, here are some signs that you should believe your instincts include:
- Increasing discomfort that is not related to lifestyle variables.
- When you are not stressed, symptoms develop.
- Problems impede regular living activities.
- You’re concerned about a situation that can only be slowed down rather than fixed.
- You have a history of the potential diagnosis at issue in your family.
Finally, keep in mind that worrying about your health is normal for humans. Although anxiety may exacerbate some symptoms, this is nothing to be embarrassed by. Recognize that there may be a link between worry and specific symptoms, but keep in mind that it’s not always “simply anxiety.”
Remember that you are the best judge of your personal experience if you feel stigmatised for having health anxiety and that it makes sense to err on the side of caution.
It’s often a good idea to follow your gut, especially if you’re making every effort to reduce your worry.