Worrying about health and/or death are arguably amongst of the most common symptoms of anxiety but for some health becomes the sole focus of their anxiety and is given the term health anxiety.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition where the individual experiences frequent unpleasant obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviours which in turn can cause them to repeat rituals in order to temporarily alleviate the anxiety or unease.
For people with health anxiety, their own health or the health of loved ones becomes the obsession and they are compelled to mentally scan their body for any sensations which they believe might be associated with an illness or health condition. If they experience a discomfort or sensation, they will then repeatedly check in and focus on that part of the body. Then what often follows is compulsive searching on the internet in an attempt to self-diagnose whatever they believe they have found.
There are a number of characteristics of how the mind works that need to be considered: –
Whatever the mind focuses on grows. Therefore, if you find an unexpected sensation in your body, the more you focus on it, the more the sensation will increase
When anxiety occurs, the dominant part of the mind, associated with the flight/fight systems, will look for the worst possible scenario.
A human psychological trait called confirmation bias will find evidence to support whatever we believe, ignoring evidence which does not.
The result is often that the individual becomes convinced they have a serious life-threatening condition which in itself leads to anxiety – and so the vicious cycle is perpetuated.
So, is health anxiety a form of OCD? Yes, it can become an OCD if the original anxiety is not addressed, although it must be stressed that worrying about health frequently occurs with any form of anxiety and is not necessarily OCD. However, both OCD and health anxiety are highly treatable, but sadly many people do not seek help believing it is an illness they have to live with.
At Old Town Hypnotherapy proven therapeutic techniques are combined with the relaxing state of trance (hypnosis) to address the underlying anxiety which manifests in obsessing about health or other OCDs. Free initial consultations are available online or face to face that will explain in detail where the anxiety is coming from and how hypnotherapy works to reduce it.
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Health anxiety is a form of anxiety where worrying, obsessing about health problems and fixating on sensations in the body manifests in a variety of physical symptoms which, in turn, creates anxiety that fuels the problem. However, anxiety in general does affect the body, so for those with health anxiety, these things become a particular concern.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be hard to ignore if you’re living with someone who has it. The temptation is to buy into the OCD and either join the person helping out with their obsession by buying wet-wipes for the person with a germ OCD for example, or to try and stop them carrying out their habits or rituals, encourage them to resist the compulsion. What should you do for the best?
Can hypnotherapy actually help anxiety. A review of scientific studies suggests that hypnosis can help, but hypnosis is a tool that must be used alongside proven therapeutic techniques for anxiety to have any long term benefits.