Therapist suffering with health anxiety. - Anxiety and Depre...

Anxiety and Depression Support
45,882 members47,277 posts

Therapist suffering with health anxiety.


Hi Everyone,

I'm happy and relieved to find a community that I can share my fears with that can relate. I am a therapist struggling with health anxiety. I work with clients every day on similar issues and struggle with anxiety of my own. I have been struggling with this issue for the past 3 years. It began when I was working for a infectious disease doctor. I began to obsess over getting HIV and even began to manifest physical symptoms of the disease. I suffered for months, afraid to get tested because I felt that I knew that I was positive. I finally mustered the courage to get tested and after one of the most difficult nights of my life, I was negative. I felt relief but it was short lived. I continued to obsess and think the test was wrong. Eventually, over time the fear subsided but it was replaced by a new one. A close friend of mines family friend was diagnosed with ALS about two months ago. Shes my age 29. I began to obsess over her symptoms (muscle weakness on her right side and abnormalities with her voice.) I then began to manifest these symptoms myself. As I am typing to you now I am suffering with internal trembling and muscle twitches which have persisted for over a week. I even at one point have had numbness. Rationally, I know these symptoms manifested shortly after hearing this horrible story from my friend but anxiety is not rational and its starting to consume me. I have made doctors appointments with my primary care doctor and neurologist to rule out anything because I am so extremely fearful. By posting this I am hoping someone can relate.


14 Replies

So many of us can relate to what you say because a lot of us have experienced health anxiety ourselves. I believe that when we experience anxiety overload our nervous system becomes over sensitised.

In this state our nerves tend to exaggerate every possible threat ten fold. Always the worst case scenario. If we have a chest pain it must be heart disease. A bad headache must be a tumour. A stomach ache must be cancer.

These negative thoughts prompt the release of fear hormone which keeps our nervous system over sensitised. And so the health anxiety continues in a vicious circle of fear causing nervous sensitivity causing fake health symptoms causing more fear etc etc.

Many people have a feeling of impending death. This too is an exaggeration of the normal mild concern we all have not to die before our time.

Even with the reassurance of medical professionals that all is well there is often the response "they must have missed something." And so we continue trying to cure ourselves of illnesses we don't have.

Anxious Ang, I have to tell you that you cannot cure yourself of an illness you don't have no matter how hard you try.

So what is the way forward? I would say to take steps to allow the over sensitised nervous system to return to normal. We have to stop feeding sensitive nerves on a constant diet of fear. Then we regain our quiet mind and no longer think we have liver disease every time we feel a little nauseous.

The way forward is to accept (for the time being) all the strange thoughts and false symptoms that we experience. Accept them utterly. Don't fight them because fighting only causes more strain and tension and we can do without that.

When we accept them (for the moment) we begin to no longer fear them. We know they are false feelings caused by sensitised nerves caused by over work, disappointment, toxic relationships, loss, shame, worry...the list is endless.

The Acceptance method for respite and recovery from anxiety disorder in all its forms was developed many years ago by Doctor Claire Weekes. Her biography has just been published titled "The woman who cracked the anxiety code".

Weekes devoted her life to curing people of anxiety disorder through consultations, news letters, lectures, TV appearances and self help books. The first of these books is titled 'Self help for your nerves' in the U.K. whilst the same book is titled 'Hope and help for your nerves.' in the U.S. In this short book she explains in non medical terms her protocol for recovery which summed up in six words is: 'Face, Accept, Float and Let time pass.'

The book has sold 5 million copies worldwide since it was first published in 1962. Do not be put off by the fact it is an 'old' book: it has withstood the test of time and on the U.K. and U.S. versions of Amazon has been reader reviewed 1,600 times in the last few years: 90% rate it either excellent or very good.

Much modern psychotherapy is based on her Acceptance method, for many it is the gold standard for recovery. But of course as a therapist you may know all this.

Claire Weekes has something in common with you. Like you she was a mental health care professional concerned with curing people with anxiety disorders. Like you she also suffered from high anxiety herself. But she developed a method that allowed herself and 'millions' of others to find recovery. For this she was nominated for a Nobel Prize for her contribution to self-help for anxiety.

Others on this forum have other remedies for anxiety and depletion. There is a wealth of suffering here but a wealth of experience and remedy too.

You are most welcome to join us as we hopefully travel the Yellow Brick Road to respite and recovery.

Agora1 in reply to Jeff1943

Thank you Jeff for your response. We all need to hear if

from time to time. :)

Jeff1943 in reply to Agora1

The broken gramophone record😁

people who support the mass consensus for mental health beliefs and cultural beliefs in our country get elevated..books interviews...record deals..and the people who have different and often more accurate views never get past the gatekeepers...there are a bunch of people making 100k plus all over the country for treating people inhumanely...brainwashing them into believing things that are often not true and medicating them in ways that are not always good..It reminds me of the old saying of "History is written by the victor" Winston Churchill. I do believe in anxiety and that i can be severe but i also believe it is dangerous to preach an assumption that certain symptoms are anxiety without a thorough medical examination..Certain types of symptoms are red flags and should never be put intot he category of assumed anxiety unless they have first been proved otherwise. People have died from heart attcks after being sent home from emergency rooms with a diagnosis of anxiety. There are also people who have suffered from serious illness that took 2nd and 3rd opinions before it was determined that they actually had a medical problem.

You are right, we usually say to someone new that they must get their symptoms properly diagnosed by a doctor or consultant and have the appropriate tests before presuming it is anxiety disorder.

But usually people posting here say they have seen their doctor and after thorough tests have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder.

At that point we engage with them on the basis that the medical profession knows what it's doing. But in a small number if cases even the experts get it wrong.

The old joke comes to mind: "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean you're not being followed."

AnxiousAng had the HIV test and it was found negative so he/her eventually decided the symptoms were anxiety. He/she is having tests for other symptoms.

But you are right to remind us that a proper diagnosis should be carried out to confirm symptoms are 'only' anxiety.

I feel sometimes the psychiatric community can be a danger to people with a mental illness diagnosis because thorough investigation is not always carried out..the good news is if you thoroughly analyze the phenomena and determine it is caused by anxiety then you can address it properly from that day forward...and when you realize something is not a danger, that knowledge helps a patient to reduce the level of anxiety themself...It is my personal belief that it isn't a small number of cases where the experts got it wrong...Not only do doctors misdiagnose physical illness as mental illness but doctors misdiagnose physical illness in general. I think despite the massive improvements in modern medicine the Achilles heel of it all and the biggest threat is that we don't diagnose people early enough. This is especially true of some cancers. Speedy diagnosis is life when dealing with everything from strokes to cancers.

Having worked in the medical field, I am very aware in how anxiety and health

issues can cross over. I've always believed that we need to be our own Advocates

for health care. After all, it is our life, our body. Once we have had our issues

addressed properly by a doctor, then we have the option in continuing to pursue

a diagnosis. There comes a point where we have to say to ourselves, enough is enough. Where do we draw the line. After all, many of the tests we get to rule out

anything catastrophic are dangerous in themselves. Too much of a good thing can

lead us down a path of unhealthiness.

I agree that doctors are human and can make mistakes or poor judgment. However,

in this day and age with medical technology being what it is, the chances go down.

I will say, in the end, the decision is always ours if we should accept a diagnosis we

don't believe in.

Thank you for sharing an important message to all of us. :) xx

AnxiousAng in reply to Jeff1943

This was so incredibly helpful thank you so much. I’m going to take your advice and try not to obsess it exacerbate my symptoms with fear. I’m going to try and accept them for what they are until my doctors appointments. I so appreciate your feedback it made me feel a lot better.

Welcome Ang to this amazing forum where you will find men and women alike

who had their world turned upside down with mental illness. But I don't have to

tell you that as you already know that anxiety in it's cunning way can make us

unsure in what is real and what isn't. We start to question our own intellect after

a while. Jeff1943, wrote a great response to your health anxiety fears.

What we feel is real, but what we think may not be.

I'm glad you are here with us. Namaste Ang :) xx

AnxiousAng in reply to Agora1

Thank you for your supportive words. I’m hopeful that being apart of this community will help comfort me and ease some of the anxiety.

Agora1 in reply to AnxiousAng

We're here for each other :) xx

I definitely can relate to how you feel.. I had the worst health anxiety issues in my thirties, when the Hiv epidemic was rampant.. I remember the horrific terror, the total desperation, the constant visits to the clinic before going home almost every single day after work.. other people went to “happy hour” but I went directly to the HMO clinics. I did not trust test results and I remember at one point bursting into uncontrollable tears of panic during a blood test. So much precious time wasted in fear and panic. The torment of waiting overnight for lab results yet at the same time the not wanting to know....pure devastation. My biggest regret was that I did not seek therapy, partly because none of the doctors recommended mental health care to me. What a cruel uninformed medical system we had during the 80’s ...

I’m sure you have more options and your own training and experience on the mental health awareness these days. Please know that you have lots of support here in our community. Health anxiety is a big problem at any age .

You are not alone.

Maybe you were stressed at that job for good reason it’s a reasonable fear. Then it gained force momentum. Come on ALS is a horrid condition and that bothered you after your previous fear. But the truth is you’re healthy. You know what happened to me? I had real issues being called crazy it happened 4X long lasting years back to back. How’s that for nutz Ville. I became addicted to buying supplements because I got no answers or they took too long. To find them. So a pattern evolved. A few of them & I do have health issues. My advice is to walk away accept your have this problem and when this stuff come up you sit with it and say I hear you but it’s not true and that’s in the past I don’t take on others issues and it’s time to live. If you’re able to practice walking away like me knowing I have an addiction I keep it controlled now I use only a few things because I know what my issues are. Yesterday isn’t today. If you can learn to laugh at yourself about it and go do something to distract its a lot easier.

Hi AnxiousAng!

I’m so glad I found your post because I’m going through the same thing right now. Last week I got dizzy and started googling what it could be a symptom of and I saw diabetes so I started doing more research about it. After that night I feel like I started the getting the physical symptoms of it even though I had never felt them before. I now feel like I’m urinating more than usual and hungier than usual(Both symptom of diabetes) all because I read those symptoms. I’ve done my best not to rush to the ER but I do have an appointment with my regular doctor about my concerns. It’s driving me nuts! Before the whole diabetes thing I was freaking out about going blind! Went to get an eye check up and my eyes are perfectly healthy aside from astigmatism so I got a low prescription and ever since then all the “symptoms” i had of going blind disappeared. You are not alone with this feeling. I hope there was a cure because it really is difficult. I advice to keep yourself as busy as possible and stay away from google! I’m here if you need to talk.

You may also like...