Physical Symptoms of Health Anxiety
Written by: Tanvi Vinay Gangavali – MA (Psychology)
Last updated date : November 18, 2022
We all have anxiety. There are many physical symptoms of health anxiety. This also disturbed our everyday life. Health anxiety is when you find yourself constantly worrying or feeling anxious about either falling ill or that you are already ill. This causes many behavioral changes. It also affects your mood. It is natural to feel anxious. For example, if it is our first day at work or we need to give a presentation then we all feel nervous. This makes your heart race faster, breathe becomes heavier. This is needed so that you can face a situation that is intense. But, if you feel anxious almost all the time then it starts to affect your body and mind. Health anxiety can cause physical symptoms. There are ways to deal with anxiety. This article helps to understand the physical symptoms of health anxiety and how to deal with it.
Do I Have Health Anxiety?
- A lot of worry about health.
- Regularly check your body for signs if you are ill. For example, aches and pains, lumps, etc.
- Talking to people excessively about your health.
- Seeking reassurance from people around you that you are not ill.
- Constantly feel that you are ill but the doctor or medical tests are not showing these signs.
- Reading a lot about health either on the internet, in books, or in videos.
- Not wanting to engage in any material that talks about serious illness.
- Pretending to be ill.
- Mistaking certain illnesses for a serious illness. Such as headaches or an increase in heartbeat.
- Feeling drained out.
- Frustrated because you are unable to stop these thoughts.
You might feel that you have certain symptoms mentioned above. But, it is best to figure out how it is impacting your daily life. If it is then it is best to seek help. There are many ways to deal with it. You can also seek help from a counselor.
Physical Symptoms of Health Anxiety
- Brain: If we have a lot of panic attacks or anxiety for a long time then it affects our brain chemicals. It leads to many headaches and also feeling dizzy. Hence, health anxiety can lead to physical symptoms. This is also because whenever you feel anxious or stressed, the brain tends to release certain hormones and chemicals. But, if you are anxious most of the time then these chemicals and hormones are released in excess and can cause long-term health issues.
- Heart: When we are anxious our heart beats faster. We might also have chest pain or palpitations. Sometimes, it can also lead to an increase in blood pressure. This naturally impacts the heart. If you are anxious about your health then you are also at risk of developing heart-related diseases.
- Stomach: Anxiety has an impact on our digestive system also. It can lead to stomach aches, feeling nauseous or even changes in eating patterns. Some people also develop irritable bowel syndrome because of anxiety. This can lead to vomiting and bowel issues.
- Immunity: Your immunity goes for a toss. If you have a lot of health anxiety for a long period of time, then you are always in a heightened state of arousal. The body does not get a chance to calm down. This weakens your immune system. This also leads to a viral infection, fever, cough, and cold.
- Lungs: When you feel anxious, your breathing is impacted first. Either you are breathing too heavily or rapidly. This can also lead to more complex breathing issues such as asthma, etc.
- Other effects on your body: Anxiety can have many effects on your body. You might have tight muscles or joint pains. Your mood might also be sad most of the time.
How to Deal with Physical Symptoms of Health Anxiety?
- Keep a journal. Writing down your symptoms along with the frequency and intensity is helpful. Also, you can note your mood and thoughts. This helps to track how you feel.
- Work on your thoughts. Your thoughts need to be worked on. As there is a direct connection between your thoughts and emotions. In the journal that you have, you can draw a table with two columns. In the first column, you can write your thoughts related to your health and in the second column, you can reframe these thoughts. For example, in the first column if your thought is ” I feel worried when I have a headache.”Then, the thought in the second column can be. ” Headache can be because I am feeling stressed. I will feel better soon.”
- Distraction. There are many times when you feel like checking your body or you get negative thoughts. At such times, you can distract yourself. Some ideas to distract are going for a walk or listening to music. You can also slowly start doing things that you might have stopped doing because of health issues, such as meeting people or going out.
- Find ways to relax. It is important to relax your body and mind. Practicing breathing exercises is helpful. There are also many apps and websites which you can use to learn relaxation exercises.
- See a doctor. If you feel all this is not helping you then it is best to see a doctor. You can even visit a counselor who can help you manage your anxiety.