Are worries about your health getting the best of you?
If you experience troubling symptoms, it’s only natural to worry about your health. But if your anxiety persists even after doctors tell you they can find nothing wrong, it may be hurting you more than it helps. You might research medical conditions on the internet, exercise constantly, or check your body for signs of disease, all the while growing more and more consumed by worry. And that worry has consequences of its own—the never-ending cycle of anxiety can all but destroy your quality of life.
If you’re ready to stop being overly preoccupied with fears about your health, Overcoming Health Anxiety offers an evidence-based approach called cognitive behavioral therapy to help you get started. You’ll learn the difference between people with health anxiety and hypochondriacs, find the root of your health anxiety, and challenge illness-related thoughts. In time, you’ll drastically reduce your fears and enjoy a life free from recurring health-related worries.
The authors offer a guide based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for people who worry obsessively about their physical well-being, whether due to real and difficult-to-diagnose symptoms or imagined ones. Owens and Antony Canadian academics and experts in anxiety reduction (Antony is coauthor of The Anti-Anxiety Workbook) note that CBT is an established therapeutic technique that involves carefully and repeatedly analyzing, and thus repeatedly exposing oneself to, the negative thoughts that lie behind dysfunctional behavior; this continued exposure can help modify thought and behavior. The authors instruct readers on how to identify and change harmful thoughts and actions through short exercises. They also include a helpful section for family members and friends of the health-anxious. For example, Owens and Antony counsel against offering too much reassurance because they consider health anxiety a form of addiction and it just leads to further demands for reassurance. Also helpful are sections such as "Making the Most of Your Appointments" (bring a list of questions, take notes) and "Dealing with Stress," which discuss mindfulness and breathing techniques. Though the tone is dry and calls out for more anecdotal material, this remains a useful guide on a not-often-examined form of anxiety that can dominate people's lives.