The most common symptom of this misunderstood condition (also known as hypochondria) is excessively worrying about your health and a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that this type of anxiety affects up to five per cent of outpatients.
Reality TV star Kendall Jenner recently opened up about having the condition.
“Since I was a kid I’ve always been the worst hypochondriac,” said the 22-year-old star of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
It might be easy to dismiss but the disorder is actually a mental health condition which causes worry to the point where the anxiety is debilitating.
Worrying about health becomes an illness itself.
If you think you might have health anxiety here are some of the signs to look out for:
1. Being preoccupied or perhaps becoming obsessed about being physically ill or that you might become ill.
2. Worrying about your health is negatively affecting various aspects of life: work, social interactions, family life and relationships.
3. Using “Dr Google” a little too much, trying to self-diagnose illnesses or physically examining yourself.
4. Not believing your doctor’s reassurances that you are actually fine, healthy and well.
5.Constantly talking about your health and seeking reassurance from family and friends that you are OK.
6. Sometimes the anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as chest pains/flutters, feeling dizzy, dry mouth, swerving, trembling or a feeling of numbness. Panic attacks can be a physical outlet for your worry.
7. Interpreting any bodily sensations as a serious illness, even the smallest utters or tiniest ache can create a very real fear.
8. Avoidance of anything associated with illness such as medical TV programmes.
9. Feeling isolated and becoming withdrawn and preoccupied.
10. Avoiding activities or particular places for fear of becoming ill, perhaps no longer doing things you used to enjoy.
The key is to try to limit the amount of worry, gradually easing off the fear and anxiety of ill-health.
Find some healthy perspective and ask yourself the question: “Do I want to keep worrying about the possibility of becoming ill or do I want to get on and live my life?”
See your GP or a therapist for help and support.