Health anxiety, also known as hypochondria, happens when you spend too much time worrying about your health or getting sick, which can start to take over your daily life.
Health anxiety symptoms
You might have health anxiety if you are:
- Constantly worrying about your health
- Often check your body for illness signs, like lumps or pain
- Checking with people for reassurance for your health
- Worry that your result or doctor missed something
- Obsessively looking at the internet for health information or in the media
- Altogether avoid anything related to severe illness, like medical TV programs
- Act as if you are sick (avoiding physical activities)
Being anxious can also cause symptoms like a racing heartbeat or headaches, which you can mistake as signs of sickness.
Health anxiety self-help
- Maintain a diary: Make a note of how often you check yourself for illness, ask people for reassurance, or look for health information online. Try gradually to reduce how frequently you do these things.
- Try to change your thoughts: Draw a table with two columns; write your health fears or worries in the first and your balanced thoughts in the second. For example, in the first, note you are worried about headaches, and in seconds write that headaches can be a sign of stress.
- Make yourself busy: When you develop the urge to check your body, distract yourself with other things like taking a long walk or calling a friend.
- Do your usual activities: Gradually, start doing your regular activities that you have been avoiding because of your health fears or worries.
Consult a doctor if:
- Your fears and worries about health prevent you from leading a usual life
- Your self-help techniques are not working
A doctor might refer you to a psychologist for therapy.
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 16 JULY 2022