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by Ken Goodman, LCSW

As she stares at the ceiling, trying to fall asleep, Dina ruminates on one statement from her doctor, “Brain tumors can grow at any time. Come back in six months if you’re concerned.”   She tosses and turns, “Why did he tell me that? If there was nothing wrong, why would he say come back in six months?”  More questions race through her mind, “Why do I keep getting headaches and dizziness? What if the doctors missed something? Why did he tell me to come back if there was nothing wrong?”  Dina feels so anxious she gets out of bed and searches the web for answers.  As she rereads the same articles about symptoms of brain cancer she begins to feel lightheaded.  “Why do I keep feeling this way? Do I really have brain cancer? Is this really happening?”  

The good news is, Dina does not have brain cancer or a brain tumor.  Dina has a health anxiety.  There are two types of health anxieties: Somatic Symptom Disorder and Illness Anxiety Disorder, formally known as hypochondriasis.  Many people with health anxiety are often unable to function or enjoy life due to their fears and preoccupations.   They obsess over bodily functions (breathing, heartbeat), physical oddities (skin blemishes), and physical discomfort (headaches, stomach aches, lightheadedness). They might worry about a specific organ (brain, heart) or a disease they heard about on the news or at work (MS, diabetes).  They are preoccupied with the belief that they have, or are in danger of contracting, a serious illness. Many will purse doctors and tests repeatedly for reassurance, but are reluctant to seek mental health treatment since they believe their condition is medically based.   

Why does health anxiety persist despite reassurance from doctors?

Although some refuse to be examined by their primary care out of fear of discovering the worst, seeking reassurance from doctors, insisting on repeated medical tests, and visits to the ER and urgent care, are more common in health anxiety. Being reassured by the doctor that there is no serious medical illness brings relief -- temporarily.   The vicious cycle quickly resumes as new thoughts and physical sensation surface, followed by interpretations of danger, anxiety, and more visits to doctors to resolve the uncertainty. Soon the cycle ignites again with the next alarming thought.  

The False Alarm

Car alarms are set off when a criminal breaks in but imagine how problematic it would be if the siren blared each time a pedestrian walked by.  The car alarm would be misinterpreting innocent people as dangerous criminals. 
With health anxiety there is the misinterpretation of discomfort and normal bodily sensations as dangerous. The body is very noisy. Healthy human bodies produce all sorts of physical symptoms that might be uncomfortable, unexpected, and unwanted, but not dangerous. 

Normal sensations in the body that can produce fear and worry include changes in visual acuity, heart rate, blood pressure, saliva levels, depth of breathing, balance, and muscle tone,  just to name a few.  These are normal and harmless bodily changes, but when a person believes they are symptoms of a terrible disease, it causes anxiety.  The sensations are real, but the beliefs are false.

Why do people misinterpret sensations in their body and overestimate danger?  

Sometimes misinterpretation is due to assumptions about an illness. For example, “My cousin died of cancer. It’s only a matter of time until I get it.”  Or, “viruses sped easily. People in Africa are dying of Ebola. It could easily spread to the U.S.” People with health anxiety might hold rigid definitions of good health, perhaps believing that any discomfort whatsoever means bad health. 

Anxiety is a protective mechanism and scanning the body for an illness seems like the right thing to do to protect ourselves. However, when we are preoccupied with something, we tend to notice it.  Last month when I was looking to purchase a new car, I suddenly began to notice every car on the road; the make, model, and the color.  Previously, I didn’t pay attention.  Looking for symptoms makes you notice subtle sensations you might otherwise ignore. When you become preoccupied with bodily sensations, those sensations become amplified and last longer. 

This is when it gets tricky.  

Each scan of the body produces uncertainty and doubt, giving the imagination opportunity to create stories.  As you imagine the worst, your body’s alarm system sounds off in the form of symptoms of anxiety (racing heart, tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, jitters, tingling, lightheadedness, nausea, stomach discomfort, sweating, headaches, etc.) giving your imagination additional fuel to create great works of fiction.   The symptoms are real. The thoughts are false. 

The Most Effective Treatment is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Since it is possible to suffer with anxiety and a serious medical condition, medical problems must be ruled out with a thorough physical exam. Once this is accomplished, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for any form of anxiety including health related anxiety.

CBT is a therapy model that focuses on our cognition, the way we think, and our behaviors, the way we act. The main concept behind CBT is that our thoughts about a situation (the fear of ALS) effect how we feel (afraid and anxious) and how we behave (scanning the body, going to the doctor). We tend to assign meaning to specific situations (tingling means we have MS).  It’s not the actual situation causing our anxiety, but the meaning – accurate or not. And, when you have anxiety, you give your thoughts a lot of meaning, and thus, a lot of power.  

CBT aims to help you overcome fears by correcting irrational thoughts and changing problematic behaviors.  By acquiring a certain mindset, you can learn to approach anxious situations differently and learn to tolerate discomfort and uncertainty. Health anxiety can be overcome with the help of a skilled anxiety specialist and CBT.  Find a therapist on the ADAA website.  

Also by Ken Goodman:

Additional Resources:
Health Anxiety Is Way More Than Being A Hypochondriac — And It’s Way More Common Than You Think


About the Author

ADAA_Ken-Goodman-websize-1.jpgKen Goodman, LCSW, treats anxiety and OCD in Los Angeles.  He is the author of The Anxiety Solution Series: Your Guide to Overcoming Panic, Worry, Compulsions and Fear, A Step-by-Step Self-help Audio Program., and Break Free from Anxiety, a coloring, self-help book for anxiety sufferers. Ken Goodman is an ADAA board member and Clinical Fellow. Visit his website.

 

Dude I know exactly what you’re talking about. Right before I go to sleep I feel that exact same thing. I have to scare myself awake 3 to 4 times in order to realize it isn’t something serious to go to sleep. I am constantly EXAUSTED. I’m talking to the point where I feel like I am going to pass out ALL day. I have this constant pressure in my head and it feel like my head is being slightly squeezed all day. I have weird arm pains and tingly/numb feelings in my hands. I constantly worry about my heart rate because it is always beating fast. I get random muscle spasms all over my body. I always have stomach aches. My throat gets sore a lot. I don’t know WHAT the hell it is but it is ruining my life. What are ALL of your symptoms,

I have the same thing! First I was worried about my heart... had scans done everything is fine. Now it’s my brain. Have a squeezing feeling/ throbbing , probably stress. Barely sleep at night. Takes me forever to fall asleep. I can’t nap during the day because everytime I doze off I get that electric buzz also. Feel like I’m not even living life anymore.

Wow its such a relief reading that I am not alone and am suffering alot of the same physical anxiety symptoms as others out there. Just reading this article and the comments has calmed me so much. I get intense chest (currently sharp random pains on the left side), fatigue, digestive issues, sweating, tingling in arms, back pain and extreme fatigue. I am only 21, have a family history of anxiety and have had heart tests etc. come back clear but regardless the illogical thoughts come back. Accepting that I am healthy and my symptoms (no matter how intense they seem) are anxiety related and giving up caffeine really help! I have a college degree in Psychology and yet due to the physical nature of the symptoms it took me quite a while to even realise it could be anxiety. Hope you're all doing well!

Totally agree with you, I’m 25 and was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, OCD, illness Anxiety Disorder and Depression. I’ve had every symptom you can possible think of. Heart palpitations, twitching, tremors, shortness of breath, electric zaps through my neck etc. I’ve been on meds and since then mos of my symptoms have gone. Now and then I feel a symptom or two. Calming my mind has been difficult but as you’d know it’s a process! Stay strong, you are not alone.

Hey I also get this zapping like pain in my neck. Always on the left side only every now and again but sometimes it feels like it hasn’t been to long since it happened before it happens again. Like a real sharp shooting pain and it stops me in my track for a few seconds. I was just wondering if you ever found out what this was or if it was just related to the anxiety? Thanks

I am going through exactly same symptoms. 3 months back my father had a heart attack since that night I have been checking my blood pressure regularly. It's slightly elevated since then. I am 100% sure it is anxiety related as my cholesterol levels is nornal, stress ecg came normal, also a non smoker. It gives me a relief that there are others feeling the same symptoms

I literally have the exact same feelings when falling asleep where you getbthe electric buzz sensations they terrify me , currently sat typing this with an anxious feeling and mild pains in my left side of the chest , it’s always in the same place but I’ve had countless tests and everything has always come back ok I’ve been given medication to combat the physical symptoms of my anxiety but I’m too scared to take them because they make your symptoms worse for the first couple of weeks I’ve had cbt and it does work for a while but I fall back into the same pattern hopefully one day I’ll stop feeling like I’m having a heart attack or a stroke.

I have the exact same thing my chest hurts and when I sleep I do that sometimes not all the time but some nights I do all my chest and catscan came back clear but my chest hurts and random arm pain too.. the dr also told me I could have GERD I was going to the hospital back to back for months until I got a doctor who ran me through the mill with catscan blood urine pep X-ray and everything came back good all thanks to god.. it’s a struggle but this won’t stop me I keep pushing everyday I take deep breaths I won’t give up I’m glad I’m not alone but u can do this have faith god is real don’t give up

I’ve had the same problems for the past 3 months, I constantly feel worried about my heart as I keep getting chest discomfort along with muscle aches in my arm and lower legs. It started with breathing difficulties but I was diagnosed with asthma in which the inhalers provided have improved my breathing. However I still feel as if I have an underlying issue, I feel nervous and uneasy pretty much all day, everyday. I’ve been to the doctors around 10 times since this started and every check they do they tell me everything seems fine, I’ve had a chest x ray, ecg and blood tests and they’ve all came back clear. I thought getting these results would give me peace of mind but for some reason I just can’t accept it. It worsens when I lay down I feel like my body is constantly racing and my hearts beating harder than it should. I really want to overcome this anxiety as I’m not my normal self and feeling unable to do anything.

My nephew was misdiagnosed with asthma and he went back to dr. With his mom because he wasn’t getting better, but worse. Like you, he still felt uneasy and nervous and laying down was worse. Got the right diagnosis of anxiety and he was given meds and is feeling much better. Thought I’d share this info with you because the stories are so similar. Talk to your dr. Hope you feel better soon.

Really suffering with health anxiety thinking I am going to get breast cancer or some type of cancer. This has only started a couple of months ago after my cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer and my Dad is undergoing surgery and investigation for lesions in his lungs. I can’t find a therapist and have just started a low dose of antidepressants. I keep finding lumps on my body and can’t shift the worry I’m next to get cancer

Hi I have a grape sized mass in my left breast that is mobile when pushed I am only 25 years old and I have fear it’s cancer I went to get a mammogram and an ultrasound and it came back benign but I’ve heard so much about things like this being easily missed because of dense breast which I also have so I’ve caused myself so much anxiety I’ve caused upper back pain which I’m thinking it’s caused from a tumour growing cus of course I googled it and I guess breast cancer can cause upper back and should and neck pain so I’ve been constantly crying and worried and my dr says I’m fine but I feel like I can’t agree but then I come across pain from anxiety and it does have some relieve except the pain almost doesn’t ever wanna go away I now have a similar yet smaller flatter mass in my right breast which also is Mobile so is anymore I feel so alone in this because I haven’t came across someone with anything similar other then it being a Fibroadenoma burn in order to know for sure I need to get a done needle aspiration and I heard that can cause other problems like scaring and deform the breast I hope it’s all just in my head but it would be nice if someone else knew where I was coming from with this terrible fear about this particular situation

I can totally relate. I also had a lump. Scans were clear. Trust me if they were worried about anything they would do further tests. After my breast cancer fear I worried about my kidneys then bladder and then lungs. Now l have moved on to stomach and colon and even spinal cancer. It is frustrating and lonely. I too have gone for so many tests. And believe dr missed something. I have pins and needles when I panic. Chronic back pain. Stomach ache. Tremble and completely feel out of it. Reading all these and seeing a general trend with symptoms of health anxiety sufferers makes me feel calmer.

Hi, I’ve been looking for help on the internet for my partner. We’ve just had health tests done and everything was fine however he was still worried. Since yesterday we have learned about health anxiety from google and came across your blog. He believes that all symptoms point towards health anxiety and next step will be cbt.
My question is more about what steps can I do to help him more?

This is real. I have Ben to cbt session it worked intially but it hitted me back so bad. I don't want to be on ssri and also want to get rid of this anxiety.

I suffer from health Anxiety,I have good days and bad days,I’ve had hypnosis and cbt which has definitely helped. I can be fine one day then the next I’m obsessing over a blemish on my face or a mole on my arm or a pain in my chest.its nice to read something that gets me back to reality, and tells me it’s anxiety causing these things.

I am in my 70s and have had health anxiety and every other anxiety along with depression all my life, My first memory was when I was only 3, I've taken every medication and lots of therapy but still suffer to where its crippling and I can't wait to go to sleep
so I don't feel it anymore....It's not been easy being me but I don't give up because of family, I love them dearly and I know they love me, I wish the best for you all, it looks like everyone is on the right track

hitting 70 has escalated symptoms I think the whole aging situation has given so much fuel to my conditions expecting that stuff should be happening and if it does it must be serious I don’t want to waste however much time I have worrying it is debilitating in so many ways

This article really helped me this morning. It has been a ruff couple of days. I can 100% relate when you feel like doctors lied or missed something. In 29 about to turn 30 next week and I have had anxiety since I was in my early 20s. I have been to the doctor every time It gets to a breaking point to make sure I'm not dying. Of course everything comes back fine. Then like others said that stress and worry goes away (temporarily). It makes me feel like I am legit going crazy and belong in a nut house for the thoughts I have. I have to tell myself to STOP and put myself in check. I don't want to be on any medication so I have been trying to stay positive and try not to use Dr.Google as much as possible. Because of the weather going back and forth I have bad sinuses and when that happens my entire face plays into effect and I instantly think theres something wrong with my brain or another organ. Deep down I know it's as simple and harmless ad sinuses and allergies. Sorry for the long post but talking about how I feel and seeing others relate makes me feel so much better. I think anytime I have doubts I will get on here to read everyones comments for a piece of mind.

I didnt Have any anxiety or panic attacks until I unexpectledy lost my son 3 years ago. He lived 3 days in the nicu. It was then a week later when I woke Up from my deep sleep, dizzy, hands tingled, curled up and was lost of breath. It was then when I told My wife I was Having a heart attack and call 911. It was then when I realized how horrible a panic attack was and never wished it on anyone. Indeed I had My panic attack and had no idea how physical those can get. Since then, I’ve had multiple ones and developed health anxiety. I am Healthy, so it says on paper... I’ve bad echo heart stress, MRI on my brain, and among other tests. Everything always commes back fine. I started to take meds and eventually everything has worked out fine.... so fine that after couple of years in feb I felt The need to be off Zoloft and be free. Finally I loved every bit of spring. summer. And fall stress free..... I have No idea what I did, but it felt amazing. Perhaps as one doctor said to me “time heals”. Recently things have started to flare back up. I’ve been having tightness of my chest along with heart palpitations. It’s not pleasant and I am Trying my hardest to know that EVERYTHING is ok!!! I workout A lot, eat beyond healthy and I keep googling. It’s something we all gotta be strong about and not do it. As many mentioned, google only makes it worse! it’s not good, but relieving to myself that we all deal with this constant mayhem and I’m not alone. Hope everyone has a nice holiday. Hang in there people !

Everything you just typed describes me, I had anxiety attacks a couple of times and it felt so bad that I thought I was having a heart attack, went and got a ECG and stress test all came back fine, I’m still feeling very short of breath like I’m not getting enough air in my lungs, doc put me on a puffer incase it’s a little asthma but he thinks it’s 90% anxiety. I’m constantly worrying about my health and that there is something wrong with my heart and I also have become overly aware of my heart beat and it annoys me.

I have the same!!! One panic attack set me off in 2016. Now I’m like crazy aware all of a sudden to my heart. My anxiety is so crippling sometimes. Taking deep breaths and feeling my heart. God bless you! Putting my faith in God and working on giving him my anxieties.

I have Hiv,, so in the beginning 6 years ago I suffered from health anxiety. But it passed.
Then a few. Weeks. Ago it came back with a vengeance, it's. Such a. Strong mind set. Force, I try to. Fight the. Thoughts, keep busy,, to stop the symptoms,at first it was skin bleamishs,fear of cancer, but now it has gone to inside my body, when I have a pain, I just think cancer, but I take medication for hiv. So I tell myself, don't be stupid it's just side affects,and very fit for 54, gym 7 times a week, to control side affects, im just thinking why now has it surfaced.

Thanks to everyone for contributing.

A month ago, I started feeling a wave of pins and needles throughout my body, keeping me up at night. Accompanied with this were a variety of new pains in my head and a strong sense of dread. Life was normal before that point. Now, I’m always worried. I finally went for a head MRI and doctor said it looked fine. That was some peace of mind. The very same night, my chest started hurting. For a week I’ve had pressure where my heart is. I’ve had a routine health check every year and nothing was out of the ordinary, but I will go to a clinic soon to check.

This whole time, I’ve just felt ‘off’... Not so easy to Google that. Basically, I’m always a bit dizzy, appetite is low. I’m trying to find a reason for why I feel this way.

Good luck to everyone. Try different things and see what works best for your particular situation. None of us want to feel this way.

I'm 36 and I've had health anxiety since I was 8, I remember at school hearing about rabies (I'm in England) and worrying that I had it, it was such a scary feeling so young.

Since then I have self diagnosed just about every cancer there is, it is horrible, I've had chest scans, bum scopes, ultrasounds ect... All coming back clear, I then have a reassured period, but then something always comes back, it was only last week where I thought to myself, "I haven't had an anxiety problem for a while" only now to be here worried sick about something.

I know I have a problem with health anxiety, it's good to know I'm not alone but I just wish there was a cure for this, I feel so fed up and hate the dark days, I just want to enjoy my life and snap out of this, but however hard I try, I can't.

it makes things a little easier knowing I'm not alone, I've had health anxiety for about 3 years now and I just wish I knew why it started. I no longer drink alcohol because my brain just can't hack it. I get tightness of chest and thinking something is wrong with my heart, I've had all the test and everything is 100%. I've just started a new medication but I just wish it would go away! And i worry it will hold me back from what i want to do in life. Thanks to everyone for sharing, make it a little more bearable knowing I'm not alone.

Crying reading the article and all the comments. It’s such a relief to hear “you are not alone”. Health anxiety and anxiety in general is so debilitating. Thank you to everyone who made me feel less alone today.

Shukrullah Adnan

December 31, 2018

How long does a health anxiety last? I am suffering from it from about 45 days. It is very bad illness and feeling. I have by the no occupation. For almost one and a half year I am at home and have very less to do.

Thank you in advance.
A exam people need 4-5 months to prepare for has taken me 10 years. I have extreme exam anxiety. I’ve had it since I can remember.
I’m at the end of the rope. Don’t know what to do. Please help

I've had health anxiety for a while now, and find myself always checking myself for symptoms. Lately i've had a relapse and just feel dizzy, out of focus, and not at all like myself. It's terrifying, it interrupts my life, it stops my plans, and I['m trying not to let it but I feel like I'm going crazy. I keep thinking that if I were jsut warded, be it at the ER or at a mental ward, someone would be there to look out for me and my body wouldn't be my responsibility any more.

I have been suffering health anxiety since I found a breast lump just over a month ago. I had to wait two weeks to have it checked out and during those two weeks I had convinced myself I had stage 4 breast cancer which had spread to my tongue and lymph nodes. I was finding symptoms and lumps all over the place. Turns out everything was fine! It has shocked me how quickly my thoughts had escalated in such a short space of time. I was literally suicidal the night before my hospital appointment. After getting the all clear I had a couple of blissful weeks where I didnt really think about my health at all. However, some mild menstrual cramps and a couple of episodes of bleeding after sex (along with Dr. Google) have convinced me I have every female reproductive cancer there is!! I've been for an ultrasound today and the sonographer said theres absolutely nothing there but I just dont believe her. I feel like she was too scared to tell me the truth because she knew how anxious I was and was worried about my reaction. It honestly feels like half of my brain is normal and knows I'm being ridiculous and the other half is working against me, trying to convince me I'm about to die. I'm already exhausted by this and it's been just over a month. Reading how some of you have been living with this for years and years terrifies me. I am awaiting an appointment to begin CBT and have been prescribed mild anti anxiety medication but I fear that my anxiety may be too extreme to fix. Are there any success stories of people who have overcome this to go on and lead a happy life?

The best way I have been able to overcome health anxiety is by eating healthy. I believe that a lot of the cures for problems such as cancers, diabeties, heart disease are cured and can be prevented by eating healthy. This gives me a piece of mind when I go to a conventional doctor. I also see holistic doctors regularly so when a conventional doctor tells me I have thyroid issues and so forth a holistic doctors gives me a herb that helps me get ride of it naturally. This has helped my health anxiety.

I am not a doctor but you should try drinking masha tea every morning. This is known to help people who have breast cancer and it may give you a piece of mind before going to the doctors.
Good luck

I am only 21 years old, and for the past 3 years I have convinced myself i have the following:

1. Testicular Cancer
2. Oral cancer
3. Liver cancer
4. Pancreatic Cancer
5. Colon Cancer
6. Stomach Cancer
7. Heart disease

And for the past month, melanoma. The most debilitating part of Illness Anxiety is that we all know 99.99 percent our symptoms are nothing and its fine, but that 0.1 percent rules our lives.

It's a dark and lonely place and not many people understand. But it's good seeing we are not alone in this.

Wow, good to see that I am not alone in this. I used to be extremely unhealthy and likely did things to damage my heart, but then I got on an extreme health kick and have been a health nut for the past 6-7 years. To this day I get pretty bad panic attacks about potentially having a heart attack at 30 years old to the point where I type in 911 on my phone and am ready to hit the send button. In fact, I had a weird few skipped beats at the gym today and my normal bed time is 8pm, but I am laying here at 1am still worried that I was on the verge of a heart attack and may have one once I fall asleep. I also have very mild sleep apnea, which is cause for concern, but it isn't bad so I shouldn't worry much. Anyways, I am still here having mini panic attacks at each sound and odd feeling my body has and checking my fluctuating heart rate (due to being worried) every 30 seconds to make sure it's still beating. I need to get it checked out. I am worried from my past habits and my sleep apnea I may actually have an issue, but I am likely wayyyy overly worried at this point in my life...yet every time I start to doze off I am hyper aware that my heart rate drops as it should, but I take it as a sign I won't wake up alive so I shoot back out of bed. We will see what some tests tell me if I am able to afford them...

I have exactly what your article explained. It is amazing to know I am not alone, anxiety sufferers need constant reassurance. I also found a benzo in combination with CBT is very helpful. I have read many articles (guilty of reading) that explain that the GABA and neurotransmitter fires off too frequently. I myself I have been off and on the smallest dose possible of a benzo for 12 years and never had the need for more. At one point and time it was very acceptable, it is people with addictions that have made it hard to obtain for some.

This has me near tears reading this, and I really really needed this. I am 36 years old, with AFIB/SVT, occasional PVCs and was morbidly obese. I suffered from extremely awful panic attacks that landed me in the ER back in 2008, again in 2012, and then again about a month ago. Each time this "cycle" happens, it starts with feeling flush and terrified all over, with my heart racing, sometimes upwards of 150-170bpm. Then I obsess, weeks afterwards, all day long, that it's going to happen again, so it either does, or I get so exhausted about it that I can no longer function. The afib and the SVT don't really bother me all that much, but I can't stop thinking about my heart racing and when it does I can't function. I am so glad to finally see/read a reason for this. I'm unfortunately uninsured till mid february so I'm left fighting it on my own until I can see a psych for it - as well as seeing a electrophisiologist about the possibility of an ablation. I had a Gastric Bypass in June so I am no longer morbidly obese, I do strenght training every other day and walk 2.5 miles on the off days - but I'm terrified. Just terrified for no reason; even as I write this I'm scared, but I have no idea what I'm scared of. Thank you again. It's gone away for years twice before so I can only hope it will do so again.

My 19 year old son suffers from OCD in the form of Health Anxiety. It seems to raise its ugly head every 60 to 90 days to the point he can't function and must be hospitalized. He had to dropped out of college in 2017 due to Scrupulosity (Religious Anxiety/OCD) and again in 2018 due to Health Anxiety. His life has essentially been "put on hold" while he is receiving 5 days per week/ 6 hours per treatment help. It is debilitating not only for him; but has caused stress on my 30+ year marriage, my relationship with my other children, my business, my mental and physical health. Frankly, I do not know how to help him and that is probably causing the related stress/pressures stated above. I think he is receiving the tools to cope and I fear I will not.

You can go from waking up feeling great after a solid nights sleep till feeling dreadful by time breakfast is done (assuming you are still in the mood to eat).

Its basically that thing in your head, ANXIETY. The tendancy to associate and connect every minor thing to your perceived problem. You have a pet problem which you obsess over, and you ever associate a random body sensation or you create it by spirialing worry till the thoughts take 100% control and it just snowballs and takes up your entire day and night.

They are just silly thoughts, but you cant help but believe it, just in case, better be sure, expect the worse or prepare for it .. Unfortunately we all share a mental disorder be it in our brain or how we were brought up, or both.. Who cares...

But forget all this, just look at it as a disorder in perception, thoughts, rummunation and fear.. We must compulsively imagine and explain away ... How do you stop doing this when it doesnt even stand to reason... The mind is not reasonable if you have a disorder, thats the whole point.

I had no idea that I’m not alone with my fear and anxiety about sicknesses and such. The slightest inkling of change in my body results in massive fear. I have anxiety meds, but I rarely take them because I’m afraid I will “sleep through” symptoms and not get help for a sickness (imaginary sickness).
I’ve seen a psychiatrist and been on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds for about 30 years.
It has become worse as I get older.
Last month I finally decided to get counseling.
It’s difficult for me to enjoy life because I’m waiting for something horrible to happen.
I just want to be normal.

Like many others have said, it is relieving for the time being to see that I am not alone in this. I have the same/similar symptoms as a lot of other commenters. I often worry about my heart and fear I am going to have a heart attack. I am also frequently fearing that I have a blood clot (DVT in my leg) and last winter (2017/18) I even went to the hospital because I had what I now believe was a panic attack which made me feel like I couldn’t get a full breath along with chest pain in combination with the leg pain. I was fine and relatively anxiety free for a while, but the same symptoms have come back and I find they come especially at night when I am laying in bed trying to fall asleep because I have nothing to distract myself with. A year ago and what I fear is happening again I would stay up so late in bed because if I stayed up later I would be asleep for less time and be able to make sure nothing happened. I really don’t want that to happen again. I’m only 21 and it helped to see that other 21 year-olds have commented on here. I really don’t want to have to go on medication or to therapy (have tried it before and was kind of helpful) because I don’t want my parents to have to pay for it. I also have sometimes long periods of time when I am completely anxiety free. This comment thread and post have been helpful and reassuring for the mean time. I wish everyone the best.

I made a comment earlier when someone called Jess spoke about her heart. I would just like to say that although I do not have full on panic attacks often. I am constantly in a state of panic 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I have had an anxiety disorder since I was 9. I am nearly 35 now. I believe it came from when I was 9 years old I suffered tremendous pain and was really ill on and off with my left side round the back of my lower back. My mum took me to the doctors and they kept say it it was minor things. My mum insisted they give me a scan which they did and found out the tube that my urine came through was nearly closed and that was causing me the pain and my kidney was no longer functioning. I had a major operation at 10 years old which was very traumatic for me and I spent alot of time off school. Since then I have had problems trusting what doctors tell me. Because of the length of time I had off school I developed what is known as school phobia. I had panic attacks every time I was going to school. I would pretend I was ill to the point where I made myself I'll cos I was so scared an anxious about being there. I didn't spend much time at school at all and when I was there I was bullied. I also realised I was gay so I was trying to figure that put too as a teenager. I saw councillors and therapists. It got to a point where I couldn't leave the house. I couldn't hold down a job. I have suffered with this for years. I was able to control it to a point but over the past few months I have been very stressed and it's creeped it's ugly head out and I'm suffering pretty bad with my anxiety at the moment that I can no longer hold down my job. I am focusing again on my health and I worry constantly that any symptom I have is something serious. I know I'm not alone. Just like you guys are not alone. I have a full support system. Yet I feel a prisoner inside my own body battling everyday with my OCD and anxiety and my rational and unrational mind. I am constantly on edge. I am never relaxed. Not in full on panic mode but just constantly on edge if you know what I mean.

hello guys! i have the same problem about 6 yrs ago when my partner checked my blood pressure right after a cycling exercise it was very high (i know its stupid) from there on i started to worry so much about my health, especially my heart condition.. severe panic attacks, mind is always racing, too sensitive with every symptoms that i feel, constant searching on the internet, SLEEPLESS nights, no appetite at all, elevated heart, etc... i just hope that we can cope up with the everyday struggle.

So I’m 21 year old female and Like 3 months ago I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism since thn I’m having this really weird anxiety that something is wrong. when I get a little cough I start googling and thn im gone I can’t eat for days I start loosing weight, Bad headaches, body pain etc I don’t know what is wrong with me but I need to get help. I can’t stay happy because I’m always thinking something is wrong with me.

Had a situation with my eyes that was actually found to be a mis-diagnosis by my optometrist. Before this happened I always felt healthy and was heartened that my whole family has lived very long and mostly healthy lives. This showed me I guess that things could change in a day ( though, they did not really and my eyes are fine). Found this out after I was sent to a scleral specialist who was gob socked by my eye doctor's diagnosis. I had follow up, just to assure there were no problems and have been given a clean bill of heath. Th health situation went away, but the anxiety has continued. I know I am fine cognitively, but emotionally I get screwed up. I appreciate your article. I am a health professional and work in an environment where I am privy to the "bad outcomes" patients have and not the 90 some percent who probably have a good outcome. I feel a failure that I cannot seem to overcome this and I know it sometimes colors my happiness. It is not constant, but it is nagging.

I am a very healthy person my worst fear yet is surgery. About a few months back my anxiety started, the thought of having some people cut me open is nerve-racking and knowing about a condition called appendicitis scared me I would have not even painful abdominal feeling and you can barely even notice it. before I was studying anatomy I did not know where the appendix was located and I felt the "pain"/feeling all over my abdomen i found out where it was really located I felt it in that area more often. I talked to my doctor about it I was fine, but I still had anxiety. Studying atomy was the greatest choice for a school event but it's cool to learn new things. My anxiety is getting better by the months but every now and then I get anxious. Most of my friends are really supportive and my mom helps too I still check my temperature every day to make sure I'm healthy. I hope people with the same anxiety as I get better.

I am a very healthy person my worst fear yet is surgery. About a few months back my anxiety started, the thought of having some people cut me open is nerve-racking and knowing about a condition called appendicitis scared me I would have not even painful abdominal feeling and you can barely even notice it. before I was studying anatomy I did not know where the appendix was located and I felt the "pain"/feeling all over my abdomen i found out where it was really located I felt it in that area more often. I talked to my doctor about it I was fine, but I still had anxiety. Studying atomy was the greatest choice for a school event but it's cool to learn new things. My anxiety is getting better by the months but every now and then I get anxious. Most of my friends are really supportive and my mom helps too I still check my temperature every day to make sure I'm healthy. I hope people with the same anxiety as I get better.

I'm glad to see I'm not alone. At this moment, I am dealing with an anxiety attack. They aren't severe most of the time. I get tingly, chest pressure and unable to breathe. Mine began in 2014 after the birth of my daughter. I was 260 lbs at her birth and before leaving the hospital my blood pressure spiked and I began having really bad headaches. I couldn't sit up without hurting and was unable to care for my baby. Turns out during the epidural my spinal membrane was ruptured and spinal fluid began to leak out. So I had to under go another procedure to fix it. My blood pressure never regulated, went on meds for it, became pre diabetic and my grandmother had a massive heart attack. I began to constantly worry about my health for fear of dying and leaving my kids behind. I had a really bad episode which turned out that I need my gallbladder removed. I haven't had any test for my heart yet and am having them set up for "reassurance". I also had an episode 3 nights ago with extreme chest pain, couldn't breathe, had my husband drive me to the ER and it stopped so we left. I came home took my meds for indigestion and went to bed. I was okay until tonight. I have no idea what triggered it. I seen a story on the news about heart attack signs. That was probably it. I had gastric sleeve surgery in 2017. Lost 100 lbs, got healthy and came off all meds but I STILL struggle. Daily. Every tingle, every twitch. I need help in dealing with this.

I used to be scared before heart attack two years ago but now I always feel a new illness or pain and get to the point where I feel breathless like I could just stop breathing and pass out and live in constant fear and afraid to live a normal life and always feel sad