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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.

 

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

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 https://www.gyo.green/short-cannabis-strains.html.html 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.