Managing Covid-19 Health Anxiety

Many people have heard of the term Hypochondriac and some can even dream up an exaggerated vision of a person they associate with the term, however, it is now more clearly understood as someone who suffers anxiety, specifically related to having or one day developing a serious illness.Let’s dive deeper into what health anxiety is and how we can Manage the current reality of Covid-19 health anxiety.

Anxiety is currently one of the most recognized disorders when discussing mental health and wellness. Anxiety can take many forms, can present in a variety of different ways and can focus on a variety of different topics. Those suffering with anxiety may experience sweeping feelings of anxiety, anxiety due to past trauma or very specific anxiety related to one or more topics. Each anxiety disorder is unique in the way It presents and how it can be treated.

For the purpose of this blog, we will be taking a closer look at Covid-19 health anxiety.

What is health anxiety and how is it different from average heath concerns?

The Mayo Clinic defines health anxiety as the following

“Illness anxiety disorder, sometimes called hypochondriasis or health anxiety, is worrying excessively that you are or may become seriously ill. You may have no physical symptoms. Or you may believe that normal body sensations or minor symptoms are signs of severe illness, even though a thorough medical exam doesn’t reveal a serious medical condition.”

 One of the key differences between health anxiety and health concerns is that the feeling of anxiety or unease persists even if your doctor assures you otherwise, all tests come back clear or exams show that there is no issues with the health of a patient.

 Why does it occur/ who’s most likely to have it?

There are many theories regarding why health anxiety manifests, but the most common theories are:

Past Experiences – You may have a history with serious illness, possibly as a child or earlier in life. You may have experience with a professional healthcare provider where your concerns were pushed aside or you may have been in close contact with a friend or relative who dealt with serious illness.

Family of Origin – If you had a parent or caregiver who was concerned with health or had health anxiety, there is a change that their behaviour has influenced your relationship with your health.

Comfortability with Uncertainty – You may have a general aversion to the feeling of uncertainty. Not being able to qualify or identify a body sensation may cause you distress, so you search for evidence to confirm something is wrong.

How is it treated?

There are a variety of ways in which health anxiety is treated, but most fall within a wider umbrella treatment known as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT for short). The core principle of CBT is to identify your thoughts and learn to change them.

 Along with CBT and other therapy modalities, Health Anxiety can sometimes be treated with medication as well.

4 tips for managing health anxiety during Covid-19

1.     Be Mindful of your Media Consumption

Covid-19 is a constant topic on the news, online and well, basically all around us. Some of these things we can control and other we can’t. One thing you can control is the media you consume, so take a break from the news updates for a few days!

2.     Change Your Focus

Stuck ruminating on the slight itch in the back of your throat? Sometimes it’s best to challenge these thoughts head on and other times you could benefit from a distraction. Do something that actively requires your attention like a crossword puzzle, sudoku or watching a game show where you guess along with the contestants. This break may be just the thing you need!

3.     Challenge Your Thoughts

This is where confronting your thoughts head on comes in. If you’re struggling with the fear that leaving your home may lead to contracting something like Covid, despite taking all precautions of masking and social distancing it may be time to challenge that thought!

4.     Seek Professional Health

Looking for some extra guidance? Look up a CBT trained professional therapist or counsellor in your area.

For more information on how Reflection Centre can help you with your health anxiety, you can contact us today.

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