by Ken Goodman, LCSW

Join ADAA member Ken Goodman, LCSW for a LIVE webinar on December 7 -  Health Anxiety Part 2: Learn How to Face Your Fear of Death and Overcome Health Anxiety

The illness you fear might not be the illness you have. I recently conducted an online support group for people with all sorts of health fears, from cancer and heart disease to ALS and MS. Each shared their worries about moles on the skin, irregular heart palpitations, and numbness and tingling. Although their specific fears varied, they all had one thing in common; none of them had ever been diagnosed with a series illness and they all related to the following scenario:

Dina felt great after getting a clean bill of health from her physician but as she tried to fall asleep, she dwelled on one statement he made, Tumors can grow at any time. Come back in six months if you’re concerned.  Questions raced through her mind as she tossed and turned, Why did he tell me that? If there was nothing wrong, why would he say come back in six months?  What if he missed something? Why do I keep getting headaches and dizziness? Dina felt so anxious she got out of bed and searched the web for answers.  As she reread the same articles about symptoms of brain cancer, she began to feel lightheaded.  Why do I keep feeling this way? Do I really have brain cancer? Is this really happening? 

The good news was, Dina did not have brain cancer or a brain tumor. Dina had 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 physician due to their fear of discovering the worst, seeking reassurance from doctors, insisting on repeated medical tests, and visits to 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 googling and self-diagnosis, misinterpretations of news in the media, anxiety, and more visits to doctors to resolve the uncertainty. The cycle ignites with each new alarming thought or symptom. 

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 (holding out our hands to see if they are trembling). 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. Illness anxiety can be overcome with the help of a skilled anxiety specialist and CBT.  You can find a therapist in your state on the ADAA website.  And for additional information on Illness Anxiety watch my free ADAA webinar.

This blog post has been updated by the author - June 22, 2020

Additional ADAA Resources by Ken Goodman:

LIVE Webinar - December 7, 2020 - Join ADAA member Ken Goodman, LCSW - Health Anxiety Part 2: Learn How to Face Your Fear of Death and Overcome Health Anxiety

Additional Resources:

About the Author

Ken 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, Break Free from Anxiety, a coloring, self-help book for anxiety sufferers, and the Emetophobia Manual, for those who suffer with the fear of vomit.  Ken Goodman is an ADAA board member and Clinical Fellow. Visit Ken's website.


This page is exactly what I needed for reassurance. I experienced my first panic attack around 5 months ago due to worrying about a lump under my tongue. My mother passed away of cancer 2 years ago so this made me automatically fear the worst. I went to A&E and had bloods taken and an ECG, the doctors told me everything was clear but referred me on to a mouth specialist to check the lump. I went and had it checked and was told it was fine but they told me that when I had gone to A&E there was an infection in my blood (I wasn’t told this at the time). I was prescribed antibiotics and felt Relitavely good until about 1 month ago. I started really worrying about my heart as it seems to beat irregularly and fast. This at times is also accompanied by strange sensations in my left arm and chest. this makes me have mild or severe panic attacks and completely ruins my day. These have started occuring on a more less daily basis and it’s starting to become very debilitating. I’m only 21 and really want to get over this and back to my normal life as I feel like I can’t do anything at the minute except try and not have panic attacks. Really reassuring to see it isn’t just me experiencing this, feel for everyone going through something similar as it really is so draining and every day feels like hell. I also don’t feel comfortable consulting many people over this as anyone I have talked to about it so far just tells me I’ll be fine and not to think about it. They don’t know how truly crushing the feelings I experience are and I feel so alone. I want to consult my doctor about it but I’ve been a few times before to get ECGs and they’ve all come back fine. I wish everyone experiencing this horrific s**t all the best and remember none of us are alone.

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

So I've had this for about 7 years since I was 12. And it just never ends. I literally go to the doctor every single month with something new thinking it's some kind of cancer or some rare terminal disease. I'm only 19 and the past 7 years I've been living convinced that I'll die in like a month or so and I literally cannot help it. It's kind of embarrassing how insane I sound to my doctor sometimes to the point she had to put me on anxiety medications which I haven't started it.

I had my first panic attack when I was 20 (now 33). I thought I was having a massive heart attack and about to die. I had these attacks monthly for years. Some years would be a little.better than others. 9 months I was diagnosed with heart failure, probably caused by a virus. Even though my cardiologist said I have recovered I am afraid daily that something is seriously wrong with my heart. In that 9 months I have been to the ER several times with
massive chest pain/squeezing and shortness of breath, I've gone with pain so severe in my neck and head that I thought I was dying of a stroke. I have convinced myself I have dvt, pulmonary embolism, severe blockages in my coronary arteries, multiple sclerosis. I check my heart rate several times a day and often feel chest discomfort and or shortness of breath. I have a wife and two young kids. I feel like I'm not living a life; terrified to die, but afraid to be alive. I have tried medications and cbt briefly and will try it again. I just can't convince myself that I'm ok no matter how many tests are done on me (many blood tests, echocardiogram, ekgs, ultrasound of neck and legs, and way too many ct scans, also two MRIs...)

Has anyone ever had neck pains, headaches to the point you get dizzy and nauseated often?? I’ve concvied myself it’s cancer when all mds say it’s just anxiety and it has all worsened since being on Zoloft. Im just worried sick and can’t love bc the anxiety consumes me!

I suffer a lot with health anxiety, I focus a lot off my attention on my heart and my breathing, I worry I will forget how to breath, or my heart will stop. I’ve recently been put on beta blockers, they do help. But I don’t want to reply on them for to long, anyway my new thing is “brain tumour” or a bleed on the brain. I started getting a mild headache yesterday barring in mind I don’t really get headaches, I still have it today. I’ve been googling and I’m convinced something isn’t right. I feel like a ticking time bomb like something is going to rupture in my brain. Then I focus more on the headache witch feels like it’s gets slightly worse, I’m sure something is wrong why else would I have a headache this long? I also come over lightheaded befor I even started worrying about all this. So I’m putting headaches and lightheadness together & thinking the worse. HELP!

So my mom this past summer was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, although she beat it now, ever since I get severe anxiety and panic attacks from worries about my own health. In October I had something very common like the flu or a cold and I searched the symptoms and lead myself to believe I had a brain tumor and keep in mind I’am a 15 year old. Later on I got better from my flu but then just recently I got a strep infection never had one before but I went to the hospital I got antibiotics and feel much better but yet I let my own self believe I had thyroid cancer at first then I canceled that out and believed that I have leukemia even though I lack most the symptoms but one and it interfered with my life. I feel better now that I don’t have strep but I look for any little excuse to lead me to believe I have a serious condition. I constantly search my body for any rashes and check my body temperature with a thermometer to reassure myself, and panic when it’s half a degree of my normal body temperature. I’am also constantly looking at web md or Mayo Clinic to search for symptoms. It’s gotten very bad and it keeps affecting my everyday life. I don’t know what to do I have talked to my mom and sister about it but I’am still not convinced where to go from here to eliminate my fears. I have gotten close to my own religion and faith and that has helped me as well.

I was just looking around and went across this thread. I was diagnosed to have severe depression 4 years ago and tried almost everything out there that "could" help. The only medication that worked best for me is medical cannabis. I
perfectly understand that it's not legal everywhere. At first I was doubtful so I started doing my own research and read articles about marijuana. I found out that each marijuana strain has different uses for different diseases. Like this
strain This one is very effective when it comes to stress and anxiety.

I've had enhanced general anxiety ever since I was a little kid. I've had severe battles with health anxiety as an adult. I find that any big stress factors can indirectly cause health anxiety. For instance, I one had a long 2 year back and forth argument about my wife with my parents. During that same period I was having dull pains near my rib cage almost every day. I swore I had some kind of bone cancer. Anxiety over that led to more symptoms which fueled my fears even more. Tensions eased about 5 years ago. I'm still here so clearly my health fears were all in my head.

But it's a new year so of course my mind is exploiting another health issue for me to be up all night googling about.

This explains exactly how I'm feeling. I suffered a miscarriage going on six weeks ago and have major anxiety that something is very wrong with me. I have been checked the past week by 4 different doctors 2 ECGs and blood test and have been told I'm completely fine but still always think there's something wrong. And the pains in my chest feel almost amplified and the dizziness feels way worse all because I'm constantly focused on it. This article really really helped!

When I was 16 years old, I was diagnosed with a ASD heart defect, a somewhat rare one. Each step along the way from the symptoms to the eventual open heart surgery, I was told by doctors "don't worry, its probably not X but we are checking to be sure". Yes, the serious problem got fixed, and I had been able to live normally for a number of years. After having kids of my own 4 years ago, I have begun having health anxiety issues. In the past year I have self diagnosed myself with cancers of almost every part of the body (Stomach, Brain, Liver, Spleen, Colon, Testicular, Prostate, Penial, blood, Lymphnode) and heart attack. Two months ago, I had abdominal pain, and was given and ultrasound to check all internal organs. This revealed the spleen was (slightly) enlarged. The doctor asked me to check again in two months, and assured me it was likely some kind of viral infection i was fighting. Of course, I am unable to believe this, and fear the worst. I think it goes back to the childhood heart problem, and lack of trust that the "it's probably not this", actually won't be the worst fear. In the back of my mind, I know its probably nothing, but it always creeps in that, in my case, it has been serious in the past, and its only a matter of time before something reoccurs.

First, in case bpm worry people, let me tell you something. If you're the type to skim over scary parts that might cause a panic attack, worry not. Deep down I know that panic attacks are harmless (but do damage to your mental health) when it comes to bpm. See, your body puts on a ton of stress when it exercises and what not. Resting heart rates (according to my mom who is an RN) range from 60-90 resting. It depends on a lot, mainly your thyroid. Which is the thing that basically controls your weight and heart rate and a lot more but that's beside the point. 120-180 is natural for exercise btw) Mine started after I smoked weed with a friend. It increased by heart rate to 130 resting and he made me nervous when we almost ran over a cop. That struck a nerve, especially with that strain known to cause high paranoia. That caused my first panic attack. It's 5 months later and I started to worry about passing out, which calmed the worries of my heart rate because I had something else on my mind. I know it triggers people, so I won't say WHY I fear passing out. But it helped, that's what calmed the heart rate fear. I thought that I was getting over my anxiety, I thanked God for the relief. But that changed last week, I was with my boyfriend and his friends. One of them had a thyroid problem. Mine has always been irregular and high, but I'm incredibly skinny and my resting heart rate ranges from 85-95. So given that someone who goes through something similar with his thyroid made me nervous, because what if I have a problem that I'm not helping? What if my heart rate is faster than everyone else? I can panic at will. I can increase my heart rate to 130-140 whenever I please. That's worrying, because then I think "what if I'm exercising and panic? How fast will it be then?" (My heart rate goes to 150 bpm when exercising) or "what if I just panic my whole life and force myself to leave it at a high speed for a long time? (Like 180) so I basically worry myself over theoretical bull crap(and reminding myself that it is, I fact bull crap helps. It's silly stuff, but it's not silly st all when you worry about it) The last time I ever looked something up about heart rate is when I was asking about exercise bpm. I saw a suggested question as "what heart rate causes a heart attack?" And that made my mind go crazy. Thinking that I can die from that, the fastest I got to was MAYBE 150. If even that. More like 145. And that was when I swore that my body was killing itself. I thought that I was going to give myself a heart attack. But everyone lives through panic attacks. If my family thought that it was anything serious they would have rushed me to the hospital. See, I worry about outrageous things that I could do to myself like staying up for days because of panic attacks or overdoing my heart. But guess what? I'm still here. So why do I keep worrying about it? Because even though I know for a fact that none of that is going to kill me, I think that I'll do it harder the next time or throw unreasonable scenarios in my head. And I have to stop, because I find myself crying all the time and getting aggressive towards people that I love. I look back on who I used to be and think "I could never find the peace that I used to." Or "nobody nearby has gone through this as bad as me... am I crazy? Why do I obsess over it?" (Panic runs in my family) or "if I ever get pregnant, how will I ever be able to go through the 9 months? I put too much stress on myself, I'd miscarry." Or "I wouldn't want this on anyone, especially my child. I can't pass something like this down to them." It's really sad... you know? I know there's a reason for everything, don't get me wrong. If anything, there's supposed to be panic in the world. I just wish that I knew what I know now when it started, so that I wouldn't be in an endless loop. It's bipolar by this point. I'll give myself positivity (and it has made me a lot more positive. Since I have to maintain it so often to keep calm) and 30 minutes later I start worrying about it again. I want it to end. I'm afraid to take pills because of the side effects. My mom takes depression meds and when she's off it, she gets really mean. So I don't want to deal with that either. Besides, panic is a natural feeling. You can't just take that away without convincing yourself that it's okay and it's safe. You feel attacked (in my case, thinking I can die or ruin myself) so that causes the panic. Because you feel like you're in some sort of danger. The only thing you have to fear is fear, but what happens if you fear fear?
Anyway, what brought me back into worrying about my heart was two days ago (literally back to normal in just two days... with 2 weeks of a break in 5 months.) When I finally opened up to my stepsister about my panics. Thyroids were brought up and she said "yea, I know a kid who's thyroid was high. It caused his heart rate to be in the 90's resting." (But I think she meant blood pressure or a chemical imbalance because she said something about how it would cause wounds to lose blood easier) and that made me worry. Because that's the second time in a week that a thyroid was mentioned. Then, yesterday I got to thinking about calling my grandmother. She was at the gym and taking a rest when I called. She's 78 and her heart rate got to 175. That made me think ALL DAY LONG about bmp. So I finally asked my mom if that's safe. It is. But she mentioned that she went to the gym before and it got to 183. I told my brother that today and he said "yea. It can get higher than that." SO ME, being the type of person to worry about pushing my limits, has worried about that. All. Day. Long. I'm in a ged course and broke down because I'm getting bad again... I thought it would get better. I really did. But now I'm back in this seemingly endless loop thinking about it. I just want it to go away. I know it's harmless but I can't help but worry. Nothing else bothers me, diseases and health problems don't because I can't control that. So why worry about it? But when it's something I can control, for no reason at all, that bothers me. Especially since I have a tendency to cause it. But, I know that I'm getting better. I used to be afraid during showers because the hot water increases blood pressure. Now, I can jog and not worry about it. I got back to smoking weed and it actually makes me less worried. Just depended on what I have. And not all weed increases the heart rate, but I test on my boyfriend. Without him noticing because I don't want to scare him. I rest my head on his chest when we hug or cuddle and see if it's any faster than normal. If it is, I know to avoid that strain. But I definitely know that what people have mentioned lately has been for some sort of cause. I had two weeks of rest and things suddenly appear in two days, it has got to be something. Maybe it's time for me to learn how to break that tendency. Whatever it is, I hope that it doesn't last forever. I don't know how much longer I can last with this. But, if anyone has taken their time to read this, thank you. If you have anything that might help, please let me know. This was meant to be a short helpful thing but, it came to be a venting session.

3 years ago i fainted 2 times in the span of 20 mins.
Got checked out and found that my heart beats slightly erratic. I’ve got a slow heart beat as well.
Or fast, it’s confusing.
I’ve had test after test reassuring me that I’m ok.
Before I fainted I had slight health anxiety, but ever since I passed out/ fainted all I can do is worry about why this happened and will this happen again.Nobody really knows , can’t get real answers.
Now I’m light headed most the time with a racing heart beat that make me more dizzy with a flushing
Painful feeling that finds it’s way up my throat.
I hate it.
What helps? Keeping busy, doing something I enjoy. When in this state, I forget about my anxiety
and poof no issue.
But it always quickly returns when I’m with me.
A saying I heard the other day.
“Everywhere I go there I am” other then all this I’m normal.
Ps. I’ve got 4 kids as well and my anxiety also spreads with worry about them.
Super frustrating with this condition.

My anxiety started a few years ago. I started having gastro issue to now i have pvc and my heart feels like its skipping beats all the time. I'm constantly worrying something seriously wrong with me and I'm going to die. I cant even take meds for anything because at some point i developed these weird phobias of taking medication. I wish there was a secret fix for this awful condition because it can make you so ill. I really miss my old life and just waking up feeling normal and not whats wrong with me today.

I go to bed and wake up in the morning obsessing over not having a panic attack. Which then causes me to think about it and over analyze everything I’m feeling (muscle tightness, heart beat, light headed ness, random aches in pains) which results in me having a panic attack. My shoulder is in a CONSTANT stage of tightness and discomfort. But I know it’s anxiety. Because as soon as my mind is distracted by something else or actually allows me to stop obsessing over having a panic attack, all the symptoms go away. I’m PRAYING that I can find a better way to control it. But once I have a bad panic attack, I’m back to square one for the next couple of weeks. It’s like my mind links the most random things to panic attacks. I fear that I’m having a heart attack alllllll the time. But again, I remind myself that I felt this the day before and was completely fine. I actually started writing down my symptoms while I’m having an anxiety or panic attack and it gives me ease. I look back at it when I’m having one and connect that I have felt this way before and everything is okay. Good luck to you everyone! You’re not alone!

I have epilepsy and recently about a month ago I found out I also have very low iron (I am taking iron therapy) but I noticed I was getting light headed and confused and also experienced a shoulder twitch while at school it scared me and left me in the nurses office all afternoon. I managed to fall asleep there. But I was told I'd be back to normal in no time Or (2-3 weeks) that has yet to happen. I got a blood test to see if my medication for my seizures was the wrong dose, it was not all my other tests came back negative but I still feel off even more so than before. I had to take a medical leave now I'm just googling any symptom I have and I'm scared I've seen the doctor more times this month alone than I ever have in the whole year. I'm trying to keep my mind occupied but I keep going back to the same thought "what if they missed something" or "what if my medication is messing with me. But I honestly never thought of a mental illness being an issue yes this helps and it's pushing me to go see medical attention. I want my life back. I want to work I want to leave my house. I want to go back to school and be able to drive without that fear of something happening. I keep being told my physical health is fine but I'm still worried and I don't know why. I don't go a day without feeling anxious and when I do the next day is a repeat of being scared and shaky and lightheaded. Hopefully I can get help because my partner says I seem fine and I look better but my head is running in circles making up stupid stories of "what if"

Hospitalized in 2008, 3 days in the cardiac unit, every test known to man, they concluded the elevated heart rate and bp was due to a major panic attack, it came from out of nowhere and ive been scared for my life ever since, they sent me home with no medication - a regular Drs visit showed a slight elevation in bp one day in 2010 (120/86, because I had a horrible job and coworkers were even worse), the Dr gave me bp meds that gave me piercing headaches for 8 years, until a new Dr took me off the meds and my bp has been okay, but I started having pain in my lower back, doctors saying nothing wrong after several tests, then I noticed sudsy deposits in my urine, my doctor said it's nothing, then they call me to say I have kidney stones, then they say I don't have them because nothing shows on the x ray/sonogram/ultrasound tests, the pain is still there, standing and walking hurts so bad, the bp meds I never needed in the first place have apparently affected my kidneys and the doctors I have seen tell me to just drink more water, not helping at all, they say there's no prescription to get rid of kidney stones, I guess they want me to die - my regular Dr gave me low dose anti-anxiety meds because I wasn't sleeping, then took me off after a few months saying they're addictive, so now I'm back to not sleeping, eating too much for comfort, unable to walk off the calories because of the pain in my back, still have the sudsy deposits in my urine with all the water I'm drinking, can't stop smoking because of the anxiety, looking at Google makes everything worse, now I'm afraid of having a heart attack on top of kidney failure, afraid of going to any other Dr or specialist because I know it will be bad news, all this from being misdiagnosed and given harmful drugs for no reason, I think it was done on purpose - I was told the hospitalization in 2008 when they said it was a major panic episode was actually a thyroid storm, they said in 2013 my thyroid was a bit wonky, on the low side, then they said my thyroid tests were all normal, my kidney function is normal, as of a month ago they did all the same tests again and they say everything is normal, then why all the pain in the kidney area and the sudsy deposits in my urine? Why leave me in high anxiety and panic mode and sleepless with no medication? I have read countless articles about doctors misdiagnosing and ignoring symptoms in "certain patients", and i am one of those "certain patients", i conclude they want us all to die, i refuse, I'm scared, but I won't give up trying to restore my health that doctors have ruined, if the pain would go away I could remove the extra pounds, I'm eating better, no restaurant food, no processed food, no carbonated drinks, no caffeine, but the stress and lack of sleep has pushed too much cortisol and expanded my midsection, which puts me at risk for diabetes and heart problems, so now I'm desperate to lose the weight and to quit smoking, I had no health issues at all until that hospitalization in 2008, whether it was a panic attack or a thyroid storm or not, doctors and pharmaceuticals have only made matters worse, before then I enjoyed every single day of my life, since then I am living a never-ending nightmare, I pray to find a naturopath and a nutritionist to restore my health before I die from all this or old age, I have nothing good to say about allopathic medicine, they have ruined my life, I refuse to give up but I can't shake the fear of the next panic attack or something worse, if only I could sleep like I used to, my body would have a chance to heal, I am so scared, I wish someone would help me

I have never felt the need to go to the doctor throughout my entire life and have always been healthy. At most I have only taken a couple if days off from work due to a minor cold. However, recently something scared the living shit out of me to the point that everyday I wake up frustrated and scared of absolutely every disease possible. I have been in and out of the doctor's office no less than two times a week over the last few months and each time I have been cleared of whatever disease I am thinking about in the moment. However, regardless of these clearances I don't seem to be getting any better. In fact, each day brings on newer and shittier challenges. Very frustrated about this recent onset of health anxiety and not really seeing a way out.

Any little thing that happens worries me. My face feel tingly? I think I'm having a stroke. My chest hurts? I feel like I'm having a heart attack. My neck hurts? I feel like my blood is clotting. I can't get over this. I've lost interest in caring for myself. I'm hungry, I'm dehydrated, I'm tired. I don't know what to do.

Hi all. Thank you for sharing it really helps. I started having anxiety issues about my health two months ago. A bad gastritis together with an infection of H Pylori made it worse. Had few panic attacks as well. Feels like I am going to die with a heart attack etc. my energy is totally drained and I can’t seem to be able to bear any sort of stress. A minimal walking is tiring.

So yesterday I went to see a psychiatrist and she diagnosed health anxiety. For all those who feels that a visit to a doctor is reassuring for a bit, I certainly know what you mean. I have cousins and uncles and friends who are doctors yet it’s didn’t work. I shall be trying CBT soon. Hope it helps. Writing that gave me hope and reading through you experience I feel I have a people who could understand me.

We shall overcome

I to suffer with heart anxiety...even though I have been given the all clear from my doctor on numerous visits to him that my heart is ok...why do I keep on worrying I have no symptoms...but then I think what if I did get symptoms...i just want the doctor to stop it from happening to me...I just feel I have no control of my heart and feel it could give out on me anytime...does anybody feel like that???

My wife has severe health anxiety about her heart. Constant fear of dying or something going wrong with her body. She was an ultrasound tech then became too stressed and had to quit. Developed her anxiety during that time. Last fall she was having an intense panic attack and I started having heart symptoms myself, I couldn’t believe it! I think it was due to built up stress. After many tests (CT, heart monitors, etc) the docs finally realized i am a healthy 26 year old and everything was due to stress and anxiety. Took me about 3 months to exercise. I’m on meds and see a therapist often. It has been an exhausting year but I’m starting to feel a little better. Positive attitude, therapy, socializing and meditation/mindfulness have helped. I also found a podcast called the anxiety coaches podcast which has been AMAZING! The host (Gina) is wonderful and has advice for almost every situation. I still deal with anxiety and my wife is currently struggling but I’m not giving up hope! Stay positive everyone because things can and will get better!!!

I have always had a fear of cancer. I also have a hard time dealing with things. About 10 years ago I started drinking. Every evening I would drink about 4 drinks. Started not feeling well in late 2017. Had a cold that I couldn’t shake well into January 2018. Went for checkup and blood work showed body was fighting infection. During this time I noticed some white patches in my throat behind my tonsils. Went to several Drs who said it wasn’t cancer.I was upfront with my alcohol use but that didn’t faze them at all. I pushed and they did biopsies. This is where my distrust comes in. They both sent them to the pathologist as 1 a benign neoplasim and the other was a tonsillectomy and he said it was for tonsil stones after writing in his surgery notes that there was an abnormality. They both came back as chronic irritation or follicular hyperplasia. I’ve tried to put it behind me as of March of this year. However in June I felt a sore spot on my tongue towards the back. I looked and there was a crater like surface lesion. Looked like a canker sore but not painful like they usually are. After two weeks I visited my dentist who thought maybe it was a bad tastebud and lasered it. The sore for the most part is gone but theres still a tenderness that is at the base of my tongue and throat. I am worried that there was something going on from the tonsillectomy that surfaced in the tongue from it’s removal. I don’t know what else to do as there is no visible lesion only persistant tenderness, pain and redness.

The way it currently looks for me- the extreme relentless stressors for years now in my own life plus possibly hormonal changes invariably manifest as various degrees of actual physical ailments.. some have been significant enough to interfere with functioning.. then my mind further manifests the stress as a thought, ‘.. I have discovered this terrible thing.. ‘, and the horror of it in the pit of my stomach which goes with this is just nightmarish.. and I’m convinced I’m dying of whatever it is. But I think it’s just all the stress projected or experienced as illness. The closest I’ve yet achieved to being free from it, is daily measures of anything which calms the nervous system enough and sometimes this involves an hour or two of stuff like breath work yoga and meditation. Still it’s a battle which is exhausting. Ps. I’m a therapist

I’m 24 and feeling extremely anxious about heart failure or having a brain aneurysm. I’ve already had a 300 dollar head CT scan and it checked out fine! Yet every time I get a headache/migraine, my mind goes to the worst. Even right this moment I have a bad headache (probably from stress) and I can’t stop googling or thinking the worst. I’ve also been having chest pains within the last week that also add to my anxiety. They put me on Zoloft and clonzepram for panic attacks but this anxiety feels indefinite. I don’t know what to do. I know my dad is sick of getting phone calls from me @ 3am.

I am glad I am not alone. I recently moved and ever since than my hypochondria has gotten out of control. I am afraid that if I can't start trusting my brain and self, it will end up badly. Everything that is wrong, is cancer. I have convinced myself 100% that this is the case.

Thank u for everyone who commented, reading all this has helped me a lot. I had a major illness as a kid, then unexpected cysts on my ovaries in early 20s, and have watched my father suffer from mental illness all my life..... I am healthiest I’ve ever been, taking better care of myself than ever, look and feel great and nothing comes up at doctors appts but I just feel like I’m going to get sick and die and have all my dreams ripped from me and leave my daughter. It’s horrifically sad and upsetting. When my acupuncturist or doctor dispel one theory of what’s wrong w me, I make up a new one in a diff part of my body, it’s insane and I tell myself it’s insane when I am feeling all this it can’t stop. I am meditating a lot, releasing a lot of fear and visualizing myself healthy and whole, this is helping me a lot. Have done therapy too but meditation works best for me, I am seeing better peace finally. Today was the first time I read about illness Anxiety Disorder and this also helped. We are so programmed by society to believe we are just all gonna get chronic illnesses and die, I mean every other damn commercial is about cancer or some drug, it’s sick! No wonder y’all. Anyway, stay positive out there and I’m sending everyone my love ❤️

I have previously wrote a comment about my health anxiety coming back really bad after having a baby now 8 weeks old I am getting all these new symptoms including etopic a beat chest tightness back pain then today I’m getting a feeling like my throat is numbing and closing in wondering if anyone else has suffered with these symptoms ?

I also get these symptoms and the symptoms keep increasing the more anxious I get. And it’s always different every time even though the anxiety is the same throughout. It started with my shoulder and back pain which is cause by bad posture but then after I google symptoms of heart disease I started getting those too one by one. The more I knew the more symptoms I started feeling. And I’m so well aware of the fact that nothings wrong and everything I believe is stupid and just irrational. Everybody feels these normal bodily pains all through their healthy lives. It’s just that I’ve become extremely sensitive to each and every sensation

This anxiety issue is terrible, I found relief and calmness by accepting death. I have a new made up sickness nearly every week, most of the time I know I do not have a certain sickness but my brain doubts any thought I have and decides I have it anyway. Sometimes trying to sleep is impossible because I think that relaxing feeling is me dying.

I did have a health scare a couple years ago. Due to that, it has really pinned me down to the point that everything I feel in my body I go right to Dr Google to "in my mind" try to stay proactive. This is proving to be very exhausting and at times I feel almost crippled mentally due to the mental Olympics that I put myself through. I know its not helpful or healthy to try to play Dr., but I struggle with just ignoring things. Currently am seeing a therapist, but still keep going back to those unproductive thoughts. Any other effective suggestions? Thanks for any helpful replies.

I have a very similar issue, and it's great to read Ken's articule, which scenarios are very on pointe. I was diagnosed with an eye infection recently, but the doctor said i will be fine so long as i listen with his instructions with regards to the medicine.

I know that overall, i feel much better, but i have harping thoughts - am i truly recovering or is it the steroids doing the work? what if i the infection comes back once i'm off from the medication. It's making my heart race, im checking my eyesight every few minutes, and panicking to the extent that i am paralysed with fear. I have troubles sleeping at night, and these days, i am required to stay home and just rest. But with every waking moment, i am focusing on my issue, and noticing every little itch on my eyelash, as a sign of the infection returning.

It's really amazing, as i read the comments of others, i find that the fears are unwarranted, and reading mine, i find an uncanny parallel...I hope that all of us are able to snap out of this vicious cycle, and it's actually comforting to know of others encountering the same issues.

Do you have any advice for how to deal with teenage daughter's severe health anxiety? She has just started CBT but is looking for reassurances hourly and it is so distressing for everyone.

I've had an anxiety disorder since early childhood. I'm in my mid fifties now. My entire life has revolved around my anxieties. My health anxieties came later in life after watching both parents die from cancer. I had extreme episodes of fear when ever a test or checkup was due for anyone in my family or myself. I have been working with both a psychiatrist and psychologists for years. It's a slow process, yet it all depends on your determination to "fight back". One of my favorite methods is to challenge my fear to get worse. Yes, GET WORSE!!! Lets face it, we fear our fear. Right? What happens when you challenge your "fear" to get worse? Where can it go? I know up! Maybe a bit, but if you take that leap of faith and truly challenge it to go up, it tends to go down. It feels completely wrong to do this, but it works. When we panic, we tend to "run". Like a dog, it will run after you! Don't run! Dare the anxiety to get worse! It cannot kill you. It never has. Right? Dare it to go out of control, but like the bully when challenged, it is not so tough after all. It is in our minds, but in actual reality it wont get out of control. I have so much I can share on this site with my many, many years of dealing with this. Doing nothing feeds into it. Start challenging your fear. Dare it to rise and rise. It's amazing how this feedback works. When it has no where else to go or to chase, it fades.
What a wonderful community of people here. We all can get through this. We're not alone....

Hello. Basically, my health anxiety started when I was about 6 - at which time I cried everyday by virtue of my worries. I thought I had a brain tumour, heart problems and problems with my eyes at age SIX. Aged six I thought I was dying. since then, it calms down for a period of months, then I have a really bad "episode" every few months for a couple of weeks in which something sets me off and I get ridiculously anxious. The worries range from Bowel cancer to heart problems to my most common - brain tumours. The worst bit is, during these episodes I tend to live as if I am dying, and have even planned ahead to what happens subsequent to my death. It is really horrible, and I am going through one of these aforesaid "episodes" now. Just wanted to see if anyone experiences similiar symptoms to mine? I also recently got diagnosed with ADHD and depression so that is another thing to consider.

I also feel like I’m getting a heart attack at any moment. Even though I’m healthy and a non smoker and my bp is mostly always normal regardless of me checking it multiple times in the day. I only have back pain because of bad posture and I ultimately just assume it’s my heart and it’s been going on for years. I google symptoms and the next thing you know I’m suddenly getting all these new symptoms I just googled and I don’t even think maybe my body is just making this up. I just think of the worst. And it’s driving me and my family crazy. Before my heart anxiety I always thought maybe I have brain tumor. Every time I got a neck pain. And the funny part is that I know I just have neck and back pain Bc of horrible posture. I even exercise and eat healthy. I don’t have any serious pains I just start imagining sensations in my body and start getting tense until I just lose it and get a panic attack. And this happens almost every day.

I am so scared. I’m 18, I’ve always been someone who worries. I’ve always had anxiety about my health, but not this bad. well, back in April of this year, I started to feel dizzy. I didn’t go see my doctor because I was scared of horrible results. it got worse. I felt like nothing was real, I felt detached from reality. my mom finally made me a doctors appointment. I went. my B12 was low, which was making me have all this anxiety I was feeling. I was looking up B12, saw something saying that it “could” lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s. I automatically freaked out. my memory was fine, absolutely fine before I read that. after I read that, I’ve convinced myself that I’m losing my memory. I know it’s all in my head. I can remember almost everything about Mötley Crüe, The Runaways, all the bands I like. a bunch of memories of my life run through my head. but I still feel I’m losing it. my anxiety is taking over my life. I don’t know what to do. I’m so damn scared. I know my anxiety is making me feel this way. I just don’t know what to do.

I've read through a bunch of the comments and it's comforting to see the relationship with this type of anxiety that we all have. I've had health anxiety on and off (3 times) over the last 12 years. I'm on my 4th time this year, starting back in the beginning of September. This entire year has been stressful for me, between losing jobs, gaining jobs that weren't fun at all, doing jobs that were fun but very demanding, visiting family that I haven't seen in about 3 years, and then getting the job I've always wanted which just happens to have a crazy schedule, leading to sleep deprivation and a more sedentary life style. One night I was just laying around, it was about 3AM, and suddenly I felt a strange flex in my chest, then the rapid fluttering. I had experienced this before, but not since 2016. It was Atrial Fibrillation. In 2016 it was caused, so I was told, by a LOT of drinking (Holiday Heart). So why was it happening this time? I had been stressed, sleep deprived, I did drink a decent amount of coffee, and I had just eaten 14 pieces of bacon for the hell of it (LOL). Regardless, I knew what it was and I was pretty chill about it. I went to sleep, hoping it would cure itself. When I woke up the next morning it was still going. That was my first strike of anxiety. I got up, did a stretch and it spontaneously stopped and my heart went back into rhythm. Just like that. I didn't take another thought of it... at least until 2 weeks later when I had another AFib episode, this one only lasted 2 minutes. But it was enough to set me over the edge. I started looking up causes of AFib and that rapidly threw me down the rabbit hole. Heart Failure... Sinus Node problems...blah blah blah. I started concentrating on every little thing (as I have done in the past with health anxiety), "Oh man, my heart is only beating at 55bpm ... that's way too slow for me". In any case, it's been hell. I've got my physical tomorrow and I'm hoping to get some relief if my brain will allow me to believe what I'm told. Deep down I know I'm fine, and the anxiety is only exaggerating things. AFib can happen for whatever reason, it's good to get your heart checked out, but I honestly doubt there's anything wrong with me at 32 years old with no history of heart issues. High Blood Pressure being the worst. So yeah, It's nice coming upon this thread and reading everyone's experiences with health anxiety. I wish everyone the best, as I do myself, as I sit here with a foggy head, thinking my brain isn't getting enough oxygen due to poor blood circulation. haha!

Hoping all turns out well for everyone!

Continuing from my previous post, I started reading online on how to treat it and avoided googling my symptoms. Started meditation on this app called calm and reading bookings on happiness. I believe the reason for all with health anxiety is because we are all fixated with our body (which I am sure everyone is aware of). I read somewhere that we should only be focusing on our body symptoms 20% of the time but I believe for all of us who is dealing with health anxiety, we are having like 99% of our attention on our body sensation. Try to focus on your toe now with 100% of your attention and see how it feels. When our attention is fixated on a part of our body and looking out for a symptom, there is a high chance that we will discover something. For me, I get better over time through 10mins meditation every night (this has nothing to do with religion). Also. whenever I have a negative thought, I will tell myself that it is a negative thought and push it out of my mind. It get better over time guys! Trust me! Sorry that I don’t have a step by step guide on how I got better but it sort of like improve over time. I am not a doctor and I think if you are feeling unwell, you should consult a doctor and if the doctor says it’s okay, then it probably should be fine! (I think I have seen more than 5 Doctors, cardiologist - who ran a CT scan which is really expensive but the result only calm my mind for like a week) I am Glad I am about to find back this page and if I recall anything, I will be sure to come back here to add on! Good luck guys!!

I have been going through the comments and I can totally relate. I am 36 and until May this year, I went through life like I am invincible. I used to relish stressful situations, particularly at work, and prided myself on being able to bring out the best in me.

About eight months back, I started experiencing twitches in my right arm. The fingers on my left arm tingled a bit. I decided to investigate. After a bunch of tests, I discovered that my spinal cord was getting compressed in the neck area. That was a shock, to put it mildly, and my life turned around. Nevertheless, I rallied and did all the right things and ended up getting surgery three months ago to relieve the compression. The procedure went off well and the doctor told me to forget about it and just live my life. However, I have been so anxious and stressed out since my diagnosis that I have a whole bunch of new symptoms - palpitations, weakness and the scariest of them all - twitches all over the body. I went to google and immediately concluded that I had MS or ALS. Which made my anxiety worse and the symptoms worse, which in turned convinced me further that I had some horrible Motor neuron disease and that I am going to die in 3 years. After two hellish weeks during which I relentlessly googled (I now hate Larry page with a passion), I discovered that anxiety could be behind all this and decided to relax. But it is SO difficult to practice this. Once a week I relapse and have some sort of a panic attack and ruin all the progress that I make. It is set off by something as simple as a twitch in my arm (the symptoms aren’t gone and may take several months). The problem is, anxiety symptoms don’t suddenly go off after a couple of days of being cool. Which makes it so so challenging to get out of the vicious cycle. What seems to help is - exercise (lots and lots of walking), yoga and meditation. (I haven’t gone for anxiety meds yet as I am scared I will end up being dependent on them). I try a few other tricks too. For example, I decided to rename ALS to Absolutely Lovely State of health so that every time I think I have ALS I can tell my idiotic brain that I am actually in super health. Still not a week goes by without morbid thoughts. This is indeed the battle of my life.

Anyway, I hope to come back to this forum a few months down the line and tell a more positive story. My love and best wishes to everyone else on this forum going through this shit. Power to you all. Together we can beat this. We can win.