Health Anxiety – The Quiet Suffering of Hypochondriasis With an Anxiety Disorder

When anxiety strikes and the anxiety is out of proportion to the norm we can get the weirdest of symptoms, both physical and mental. Gradually as these symptoms increase so does our fear level. Once we experience fear on a very regular basis we can be said to be living in a state of constant apprehension. When we are constantly nervously ‘irritated’ in this way we remain on high alert around the clock. We keep checking how we feel and if we feel any worse or any better. When anxiously fearful we are encouraging a natural release of adrenaline. The fight or flight response kicks in and we feel we must ‘do something’ or ‘something terrible will happen’! Imagine living like this every single day because a lot of people do. They begin to live in fear.

As already mentioned, a chronic anxiety problem can throw up a lot of the weirdest symptoms such as…depersonalization and/or derealization where the self and/or environment feels unreal and detached. Strange head buzzes, fuzzy eyesight, inability to draw a breath, muscle stiffness, muscle spasms, speeded up and extremely fatigued are examples…there are so very many. When we are new to an anxiety problem we often don’t recognise just how much anxiety is to blame for all these symptoms. People who suffer with anxiety problems are usually very tense and don’t realise that too. Tense muscles have to work hard and pain can erupt intermittently. We can be more prone to headaches, chest pain, back, neck and shoulder pains. Fibromyalgia, tinnitus, IBS, TMJ disorder are just some medical conditions that are often closely connected by doctors to an increasing anxiety problem. So, not only do we have an anxiety problem but we can begin to feel very poorly physically. Naturally when we reach this point we find ourselves at the doctors surgery more and more. This should be to eliminate any ‘other’ causes. Blood tests and other tests such as x-rays, stress tests for our hearts and so on are usual just to make sure. It’s when these tests have all come back with no other illness found and a firm diagnosis of anxiety is reiterated that the problem of health anxiety really gathers momentum.

A person who is very anxious will find it extremely difficult to believe that ‘that pain’ isn’t something very physically wrong with them even when a doctor has ruled this out with tests. Being so hyper sensitive, they will often think something is getting overlooked or even that the test results may have been wrong. They find themselves imagining a whole host of illnesses are befalling them and that no one is taking any notice. So, they go backwards and forwards to their doctor in the hope that this visit will give them what they are looking for…a diagnosis but not that of anxiety! This is just one dilemma within an anxiety disorder.

The headache could be a tumour, the chest pains could be an impending heart attack, the unreality could be signs of looming insanity. Even when given medical evidence that none of these conditions are present the sufferer will STILL presume something undetected is very wrong. This is one of the bluffs of a chronic anxiety problem. Worst of all the sufferer often actually wants to have a physical illness as way of explanation. That is something they feel they will be able to accept much better than ‘it’s your nerves’!

It is only when the sufferer has actually accepted fully their diagnosis that they are able to begin addressing the root cause – the anxiety problem. All the physical ailments attributed to anxiety will slowly but surely subside as the real problem is addressed. It may feel like one has to gamble on the doctors being right but acceptance has to happen to move forwards. If you want to get out of the health anxiety dilemma you may have to be willing to take that risk. Easy to say, hard to do but a must to assist you on the road to recovery. Another problem is that of the vast amount of medical information on the internet. If you want an illness or a disease from a couple of symptoms you can find one by browsing for a few minutes.. Don’t be tempted to even go there. Go to your doctor for diagnosis, not the internet.