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Troubles with Health anxiety

For about half a year now. I have had Hypochondria (Health anxiety) It started when about end of last year. I had caught some sort of virus that caused me to have a seriously inflamed pancreas. In other words I had pancreatitis. The pain was like nothing I have ever felt. I was in a puddle of sweat. I couldn't talk and could barley breathe. For about a month I have been seeing a psychologist. And he suggests I may have gotten some trauma from this incident. Every now and then I get slight chest pains. And the first thing that comes to mind is. Lung cancer, or I have got something serious and could die in the next few months. Everyone is telling me to just stop overlooking things, but really its easier said than done. The point of me reaching out is to know that im not alone. So if anyone else is suffering from Hypochondria. Please let me know. 

Re: Troubles with Health anxiety

Hey there @LocaBoy  - big welcome to the RO forum. 

Thank you for sharing what's going on for you - hypochondria sounds like a seriously challenging thing to experience. 

I want to say how great it is that you've taken the brave step to see a psychologist and talk to them about this - did the suggestion he made resonate for you? 

 

We have heaps of experiences shared by members of this forum - so i'm sure you'll hear insights and support from others here too  Heart

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Re: Troubles with Health anxiety

hi @LocaBoy and welcome

i have health anxiety too and while i still find it hard to manage so im not the best on advice i can understand how you might be feeling. Having something seriously wrong with you physically can affect you mentally as well so wha your psychologist seems to make sense. My health anixety came from a traumatic physical experience myself and also witnessing someone i love go through something physically as well which was cancer.

has your psychologist given you any tips on how to manage it?

something i had to learn to do was to NOT research my symptoms because it always come up so much stuff which made me feel even more worried. try to find something distracting to do that takes your mind off what your physically feeling.
**NEVER be afraid to ask for help because you're WORTH it!**

Re: Troubles with Health anxiety

Hi @LocaBoy! Welcome to the forums!

Dealing with health anxiety can be really hard, especially when you've already experienced some serious or major health problems. Once I've had a bad experience, I find it really hard to get it out of my head and go into new situations with an open mind. Your pancreatitis experience sounds awful. I'm really sorry that you had to go through it. Smiley Sad

A lot of people can't imagine a young person going through things like this, but you definitely aren't alone. I can relate to being worried that a health problem is going to reoccur or end up being something serious, especially if the doctor is also worried about this possibility rather than reassuring. I have a scar on my cornea that was caused by a lot of problems with my eyes and eyelids. Apparently, getting ulcers on your cornea are supposed to be very painful, but I don't remember getting any symptoms or noticing any changes at all and the problem was just picked up by chance at a routine check-up.

Now, whenever I have pain or symptoms in my eyes, I am worried that the scar will get bigger or that I will get another ulcer and so is my ophthalmologist. Prevention is the main thing, especially because the problem can affect your vision and can only really be corrected surgically once damage is done. I feel as if my problem is a ticking time bomb and it has even made me want to avoid things that could make it worse or bring about symptoms. On the other hand, sometimes I actually want the problem to get worse so that people won't tell me that I'm overreacting. My family members have also had similar issues and been treated without success, which has made me lose hope that I will get better.

Sometimes it helps to challenge your thoughts. For example, being on medication, having regular check-ups and simply being aware of the problem can all reduce the chance of developing a serious health issue or a problem reoccurring. I found some apps to be really helpful for this. One example is the Mindshift app. Telling myself not to think of the possibility of having a serious problem only makes me think about it more, so distraction can help. Learning to recognise and track your specific symptoms of anxiety has also helped some people. It's up to you whether to try these suggestions or not though. Maybe you could discuss them with your psychologist.

Re: Troubles with Health anxiety

Hi @LocaBoy
I definitely have/had hypochondria as well. I also have a bad habit of going online and searching symptoms and end up reading research papers that make me feel worse. What I have to remind myself is that I'm looking at the worst of the worst cases. I used to spend so much energy and time thinking about health and worrying about it. Has your psychologist helped with this potential trauma that you've received? What I like to recognise is my unhelpful thinking style, I tend to catastrophise. When I realised I was thinking this way it actually allowed me to practice telling myself that I'm automatically thinking the worst case scenario. It sounds like what you went through is very challenging and I can totally understand why you would be fearful. I also to think about the likelihood and percentage of it actually happening. I completely understand it can be so tough to have hypochondria, it's drained me a lot mentally but then I made the choice to accept that I think this way and try to not let it progress to catastrophising.

@WheresMySquishyI completely empathise about your eyes as well, it can be really tough when you find out about things like that. I have high myopia which is thought to have a higher likelihood of things happening that need medical attention , same with you sometimes I feel like a ticking time bomb because I feel as though it's inevitable that it's going to happen. When I start to think this way I try to think of the facts, yes I have high myopia but nothing has happened yet and I take my negative and fearful thoughts, accept them and let them float away. In this way I practice mindfulness. In saying that it's really tough, and I can totally understand it's a challenge to go through what you are going through.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that @LocaBoy and @WheresMySquishy you guys aren't alone in how you feel. There's so many of us who feel the same and hide it. It makes me feel better that I'm not alone in thinking this way too Heart

Re: Troubles with Health anxiety

@missep  Thanks for the kind words! Heart I'm sorry that you have such a high degree of myopia. Smiley Sad I also have myopia which hasn't stopped progressing yet.  As I've got older, it seems to be slowing down in progression at least and my first ophthalmologist was even able to reverse some of it in one of my eyes with early treatment. My other eye continued getting worse though. I feel as though some of my other eye problems make my vision blurry at times too and are harder for me to manage. Last year, I had to go to several people on a weekly basis because no one could decide what prescription to put me on because my sight kept changing daily or by the hour. I have sometimes gone from being able to see clearly in the morning to suddenly not being able to see a thing at night. Having any form of vision problem can be frustrating as! I hope nothing ends up happening to your eyes.

One thing that also helps me is to see my health problems as something that I can't control, especially if I am doing what the doctor has told me to do. This helps me think about them less and stop them from taking over my life.