top of page
  • Writer's pictureMatthew Corbin D.C

WHAT IS HEALTH ANXIETY? And can Chiropractic help?

After 10 years in practice we see patterns, all sorts of patterns. We see the link between the mind and the body. Our emotions can manifest into physical symptoms. When I see a new patient here in Cardiff, we always go through a medical history, ask about their background, life satisfaction, medications, sleep quality etc. I have many patients who suffer from anxiety. Anxiety can take many forms, from mild to severe, from intermittent to consistent. In this blog we are delving into health anxiety.


Health anxiety is a persistent and excessive worry about having or developing serious health problems which can vary in intensity. Individuals with health anxiety are often preoccupied with the notion that they are ill or will get ill, despite medical reassurance and a lack of symptoms, or they may interpret normal or minor body sensations as signs of serious illness. One person may experience a little twinge in the left side of the chest and think nothing of it, where as someone with health anxiety may interpret that sensation as a heart attack or lung cancer or something generally dangerous. In most cases its trapped gas. Often people with health anxiety frequently visit their GP, yet no matter how much reasurrence the GP gives after scans blood tests a person with health anxiety can struggle to accept it.


This is often where the problem is, the brain, no matter how logical and informed we tell it, we still feel different. Health anxiety can be draining, stop us from sleeping and affect relationships. Constant worry can effect us not only emotionally, but physically too. We are not psychology experts or mental health practitioners, but I think its important to understand the different types of anxiety and how it can affect us as a whole.


These are some of the best and proven methods of helping ourselves through health anxiety.




Seek Professional Help:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown effective in treating health anxiety by changing dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors. CBT is a non medication alternative to care but some will take medication temporarily while going through CBT treatment. And then finish the medication.

Education:

Understanding symptoms and statistics can sometimes reassure those with health anxiety and prevent misinterpretations of bodily sensations. Knowing more about health anxiety gives people a clearer picture of what is happening.


Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques:

Practices like mindfulness meditation, deep-breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation can reduce symptoms of anxiety. A great technique is called the body scan. You start with the toes and imagining them to relax, then the the ankles, knees, hips, tummy and all the way up go the head. It takes time and practice but it can work extremely well.


Regular Exercise:

Physical activity is known to reduce stress and anxiety. Developing a routine can be beneficial. When we exercise we shake off excess energy. If you can get over the fear of exercise then it can really drop the levels of stress associated with health anxiety. Exercise makes us stronger, not just physically, but mentally too. Becoming more robust can only be positive for any type of anxiety.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices:

Proper diet, sleep, and abstaining from alcohol and caffeine can also decrease anxiety levels. Stimulants like caffeine light up the brain, not really a good cocktail for anxiety. Being kind to ourselves is essential to recovery. Many anxiety sufferers are hyper critical of themselves, very empathetic and people please. Learning to look after number one can be a tough concept to learn but the research shows its an important tool in recovery. Sleep is vital to health, learning healthy bed time routines like switching your phone off a few hours before sleep will make positive changes.


Avoiding Dr. Google:

Looking up symptoms online often worsens health anxiety. It is better to consult a healthcare professional than to self-diagnose via the internet.


Medication:

In some cases, medication such as antidepressants may be prescribed to help manage health anxiety. This should only be done under the guidance of a healthcare provider. Don't think that medication is a quick fix, they can take a few week to take effect. The science shows that exercise is probably more effective than medication.

Support Groups:

Connecting with others who have similar issues can provide understanding and reduce feelings of isolation. There are lots of Facebook groups with people who are suffering with the same issues.


Coping Strategies:

Learning and practicing coping skills can help manage moments of high anxiety. Some people look and call out 5 objects that they see, breathing techniques, moving slower, drinking some water, going into the foetal position...


Journaling:

Writing down thoughts and worries can sometimes help to understand and manage them better. Journaling has been found to be one of the top ways to health with any mental health issue.


Setting Health Checks:

Instead of constant checking, set regular times for health check-ups and stick to them. This gives someone suffering from health anxiety a break in symptoms. Lowering the overall levels of health anxiety.


Challenge Worries:

Examine the evidence for your worries – how many have actually turned into serious health issues? In most cases people have suffered from health anxiety for years yet, have never needed a medication for their worry. Whether that worry is heart disease to cancer.


Distraction and Engagement: Engaging in activities and hobbies can distract from obsessive health thoughts. Many times excessive worry is performed while sitting down with your own thoughts for an extended time. Get busy, then there is less time to focus on your symptoms.


Mind-Body Techniques:

Yoga and Tai Chi can improve physical well-being, which can, in turn, improve mental well-being. A supple body is a supple mind.


Limiting Substance Use:

Substances like nicotine and drugs can increase anxiety; avoiding them can help in managing anxiety. Alcohol particularly increases anxiety.


Slow Down:

In our fast-paced world, taking time to slow down can help decrease stress and worry. The world doesn't stop, but that does not mean you should keep going. Try and enjoy the things you like, there is no shame in enjoyment.


Ultimately, managing health anxiety involves a combination of lifestyle changes, therapeutic strategies, and sometimes medication. The key is to address the anxiety without reinforcing the fear of illness. Long-term management usually requires ongoing effort and possibly professional support to maintain control over the anxiety and live a fulfilling life. Always consult a healthcare professional or a licensed therapist for personalized advice and treatment options.


Can Chiropractic help health anxiety?

Chiropractic can help but not directly. Chiropractic is great at reducing tension. My patients always say they feel lighter after treatment. Chiropractic treatment creates those happy chemicals without drugs. So although we cannot change a patients thought patterns we can create calmness and a sense of wellness. Even just listening to a patients concerns has a therapeutic value. When we reduce the physical symptoms and why they were getting pain can often reduce health anxiety because they have had physical reassurance. If a pain issue was caused by something serious then treatment probably wouldn't help. Our guidelines expect us to refer a patient if their symptoms are not improving or getting worse.


Remember there is always help out there and you are not alone. Take those first steps. Because they usually lead to more in the right direction.


Comentários


bottom of page