Health anxiety is a constant fear that there may be a threat to your health. This fear triggers anxiety response, which in turn makes people catastrophically misinterpret health related information. e.g If I am having headache I might be having a brain tumor. Any sensation in the body will be interpreted as a sign of serious medical condition.
Health anxiety becomes a concern when
1. Health concerns are excessive
2. Out of proportion to the realistic likelihood of having a serious medical problem
3. Concerns persist in spite of negative test results and assurances from health professionals
4. Normal functioning and quality of life gets affected
How googling can worsen health anxiety?
Internet is an amazing technology and we use it regularly to search for things we want to know. Off late it has become the only source of information to people, any doubt about anything, just google it. Also recently there are discussions that Dr Google can help with accurate medical diagnosis.
Searching for medical terms in internet causes significant health related anxiety. This has become a significant problem among IT professionals.
People generally search for a symptom or diagnosis, often they end up reading many nonspecific things and have a tendency to concentrate on more negative aspects about the condition. Few people start to experience the symptoms which they read and start believing that they have developed a serious illness. To overcome this anxiety they try to research about their condition more and it complicates things further.
This anxiety leads to multiple consultations and too many unnecessary investigations and it hampers the quality of life of the individual and family.
Tips to overcome this anxiety?
1. Identify if you have a tendency to worry about your health
2. Understand that it is normal to have many sensations in the body
3. Stop searching for medical terms in internet
4. Do not do repeated consultations to look for medical problems
5. Practice relaxation and breathing exercises
6. Cognitive behavioural therapy can help you to minimize health anxiety