Health anxiety

Does anyone else suffer from horrible health anxiety? I'm an 18 year old girl and I've been to more doctors in my lifetime than an elderly person. I've never had any true medical problems but I live in constant fear that I do. Every day I come up with a new disease that I think I have and I go to the doctor and get tested for it. My parents are getting really frustrated and won't take me to any more doctors because they're all saying nothing is wrong but now I fear that I have asthma, cancer, or a heart problem. I'm also always "manually breathing" because I think that if I don't, I will pass out. If I think "my brain isn't getting enough oxygen" (which I always think), I will get extremely lightheaded and have to lay down. I'm always checking my pulse to make sure that I'm not dying. Every day I wake up thinking "this will probably be my last day here" or "something terrible is going to happen today" I convince myself that I have certain diseases which causes me to feel these horrible symptoms, and then it's even harder for me to calm myself down and believe that I am okay.

I don't remember when this stared, as a kid I suffered from it but I thought it was normal to do that. Whenever I got a cold, I worried that it was the first sign of cancer. And one time I had to go to the dermatologist to get a growth off of my birth mark removed and I feared that I was going to die of cancer on the way there (before they removed the harmless growth).

At this point, I don't know what to do. Has anyone else experienced this? I am currently seeing a therapist who recommended that I go on medication. I know medication helps but my health anxiety has caused me to fear it. What if the medication kills me? What if the side effects are terrible? I know my health anxiety sounds irrational, but when I'm experiencing it, it sounds perfectly rational to me. If anyone suffers from this too and has tips about it please let me know. I feel so alone....

22 Replies

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  • Hello! I also have horrible health anxiety! Everything relating to my health freaks me out.... as example I recently got stung by some but that I didn't see and know I'm really afraid that it is or will poison me slowly....and I know the feeling that it does feel rational to be so worried about something..... I just try to distract my mind by reading/watching a movie/ playing a game on my phone.... what really helps in the long run is to make sure you try to go on walk everyday or as often as you can....exercise is really important for people with anxiety even if it hard to at first as it was for me. Some days are better then others but i have improved a little bit at a time.... sometimes you just have to tell yourself to stop thinking about and go do something else.... anything to keep your mind off it..... and your not alone even though it feels like you are :) I'm also 18 but have only had anxiety for about 5 months

    Even though this not necessarily related l also believe in God and it helps me to know that I'm never truly alone even when you think you are. It is something that helps me :)

  • Thank you so much for the response. Exercise helps me, I try to go on runs every day even though it is sometimes difficult. It's good to know that there are other people feeling how I am

  • I have for years can't control it . It's taken over! My mother says it's worse than cancer because I think I am dying every day ! My kids hate it

  • hello, I hope that I can help you. I am a teacher who teaches special education. majority of my pupils have emotional/mental health issues which means they are unable to attend mainstream school. you need to be able to put some trust in my experience and let me help you to talk this stuff through. Are you able to do that?

  • Yes

  • I am pleased that you are willing to chat. I love all of my pupils, amazing young people work with me and our other teachers year in and year out and many stay in touch from time to time when they leave us for their next adventure.

    When I am looking at how their anxiety presents itself, quite often it will be in the form of an anxiety about their health and often a fear of dying too. They will have frequent visits to doctors and are super self-aware of their bodies. It often comes as quite a surprise when I suggest that thinking something doesn't make it true or real. The reason it comes as a surprise is because it sounds so obvious. Yet that is exactly what is being done over and over again. Quite often there is some nervous laughter in the room and then I can begin. I will tell you that only very smart, intelligent and creative people suffer high levels of anxiety! That also gets some giggles in the class.

    I want you to close your eyes. I want you to think that you have answered a knock at your door. There is a lovely smiley woman there and she has amazing news for you! You have won £10,000! Keep those eyes closed. Wow! you think, it has gone straight into my bank account! Now you are to think about what you are going to buy with all that lovely money... shoes, clothes, make-up and a holiday. ok, open your eyes.

    Now, what I want you to do is get a bag and start to pack some clothes for your holiday. I want you to make an appointment to go and collect your winnings from the bank.

    What is wrong with this? You had thoughts that you won all of this money, so why wouldn't it be real? Can you see that a thought is only a thought? Reality requires evidence and a lot more besides. Just because you think something does not make it happen. That also applies to your health.

    practice thinking something, then see that the thought is simply that. Think only nice things to begin with, think, for example that you are somewhere gorgeous, or that you are on an amazing date... etc, you get the idea.

  • Wow! What a great reply! I suffer from the type of anxiety that Allyson does and your reply actually made me smile. The part that really grabbed my attention was "only very smart, intelligent and creative people suffer high levels of anxiety." I was shocked to read that. Is that really true??? One of my triggers has always been the fact that I have always felt inferior because I had to drop out of school in the 9th grade to get a job to support my family. My lack of education has always caused me anxiety. I have never considered myself "smart." :-(

  • oh yes it's true! The amount of energy and creative thought required to induce a lengthy scenario of catastrophic thought and then to work out how to avoid situations and then to work out how to survive them... That requires genius! xx

  • Amazing! Never thought of it like that but it makes complete sense!

  • really good to hear back from you. xx

  • :-)

  • another thing that can be useful is a task I sometimes set anxious pupils. pretend that you are an agony aunt/therapist. write a letter to yourself, from someone that you invent... Anne, for example. the problem you write about and are asking advice about must be yours. write it and literally post it to yourself. put it in an envelope, buy a stamp and put it in a post box. when it arrives, you must take it seriously and answer the problem to the best of your ability, show insight, empathy, realism and positivity. you then do the same thing again, put it in an envelope, stick a stamp on it and post the response to yourself. The role-play helps with rational thinking and also provides feelings of the positivity of action. The time delay also acts as a distraction, it creates anticipation and promotes problem solving rather than avoidance. xx

  • Wow your reply is outstanding!... thank you so much for this!! I am going to apply this to my nighttime routine. Amazing, probably one of the best replies I've seen besides responses that Agora writes, and a few others.. this is so helpful 🌸🌸🌸🌸

  • so many little tips and tricks lol, really good feeling when someone feels empowered again or sometimes sadly, for the first time. what fabulous people we are, lol, feel all that strength and energy come flooding back. xx

  • And crazy you say either very intelligent or creative people because Einstein and Vincent Van Gogh both suffered from derealization

  • I am now 50 and suffered the same way. In those days, no one knew what to call it or how to help. I've been through it all. If you ever have questions, I will do my very best to answer them and share my experiences.

  • Thank you so much. Have you learned any ways to cope with it?

  • Yes. Many different ones over the years. Exercise is very good, but I find it next to impossible to do regularly. Having someone to talk to honestly is extremely important too. I memorized parts of the Bible or listened to them set to soothing music. If there is one thing I could say to you, it's this -- I spent 30 years terrified of this cancer or that virus, never enjoying the precious present -- and never once did I have what I was afraid of. I could talk and listen endlessly on this topic. Feel free to ask for help.

  • hi, would love to offer support too. so many suffer with the circle of anxiety and fear. support is vital and sometimes there can be the breakthrough that can transform a life.

  • Hi Allyson

    What you described is a pnic attack. And Yes people of all ages get them. I'm surprised they never diagnosed the symptoms. I know my first one I was checking my pulse and felt like I couldn't breath, my chest hurt and arm and ended up going to the hospital because I thought I was having a heart attack. I wasn't much older than you when that happened. Deep breaths are key in through the nose out through the mouth. Also going for a walk helps or if you run go for a run. Once you start taking meds it's a lifetime journey on them that is hard to stop. But if they have tested you for everything it would show in your blood work even cancer.

    You can bubble me anytime your feeling this way I'm normally around since I don't leave my house often. And talking about it helps. I have other family members that also have this and it terribly scary when it happens. If you haven't gone through it then others don't get it. But anxiety and panic and depression are real and it does physically and mentally hurt.

    Lostgirl

  • Oh boy! You sound exactly like me! Except I am old enough to be your mother (46 next month). You're not alone. A lot of us hear have health anxiety (myself included). And it sucks when you have no one to talk to because everyone is frustrated with you. I live with this on a daily basis. Maybe you should ask your parents to find you a therapist so you can figure out what is triggering these thoughts. Also, a good functional medicine doctor to see if you are nutritionally deficient in anything. Often times when we suffer from panic/anxiety disorder there could be underlying issues like low iron/low ferritin. It's worth having checked. I take a few supplements that help me immensely. Maybe if you sit down with your parents and tell them that you need to see someone over these irrational fears about your health they will listen. Good luck and know you're not alone!

  • I could have written your post exactly, but I am old enough to be your grandmother! (68) It's been off and on since my 30's. I have a wonderful doctor (20+ years), but I'm always terrified to make an appointment because #1 the drive makes me anxious, and #2, I'm always afraid he is going to tell me there is something seriously, physically wrong with me and send me to see other doctors. It hasn't always been like this, but lately it's been terrible. I NEED to make an appointment to get checked out. My husband may have to drive me. I don't like taking medication either, scares me so bad, but I've got to do something. Can't go on this way afraid to leave the house. I truly understand you and I'm sorry someone so young is going through this. However, if all of your dr. appointments have found nothing wrong, count your blessings and thank God. If wish so bad that my husband really understood how I feel. I know he tries and so does my family, but no one can really understand unless they've been there. I pray that you will find the help you need...along with everyone else who suffers like this. Will keep you in my prayers. Peace and Blessings.

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