Constantly thinking about something

When you feel rubbish and you constantly think about a certain illness, can it cause you to have symptoms of the illness your imagining? I've probably been told the answer to this many times, just need abit of a refresh on things. When I get something in my head about being seriously ill not only do I constantly think about it but I start feeling much worse and the symptoms seem more intense

Thanks for reading x

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21 Replies

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  • Same here !

  • Same!! I convinced I have some form of cancer it's horrible

  • Oh yes ! I've been convinced since June I have colon or intestinal! God I'm only 29 !

  • The mind is a very powerful thing, it is possible to imagine you have serious illnesses and yes most definitely also possible to even experience symptoms xxx

  • My current situation ☹️

  • Hi joMarie5

    I've experienced this in the past too when I suffered from anxiety, it's completely overwhelming and often unbelievable that our minds can actually affect us in this way

    For a long time I could not accept that my symptoms were nothing more than an over sensitized mind and body, I feared every sensation, every thought, every new symptom etc etc.

    I then began to realize that if my mind could make me feel so ill and sick with worry or convinced of some impending fatal illness, then surely it could also make me feel orher things like, wellbeing, healthy, happier and acceptance of unimportant sensations, that's when my road to recovery started, accepting all that our over sensitized mind throws at you and just allowing it to pass is the key to recovery,

    Dr Claire Weekes

    David Daish

    The Anxiety Guy

    The above are just a few of the people I'd strongly recommend on youtube, you may find many other's there too, watch their videos, all helped with my recovery

    Your never alone, hang in there n stay strong xxxx

  • Thanks ! Recently developed heartburn and I'm thinking oh my ! It must be progressing ! I'm over it !

  • Heartburn, acid reflux n all manner of tummy upsets can be a very common complaint with people suffering from anxiety issues, it upsets the digestive system big time xxx

  • I had to force myself to eat just now . And I was thinking it's because your sick that's why you don't have an appetite 😞 Tomorrow I'm getting a ultrasound of my gallbladder. I have stones be we are going to see if they are bothering anything. I'm worried they might see something else. Even tho I had a CT scan in June and I asked for the ultrasound for my gallbladder now I think I'm working myself up

  • Again the dreaded anxiety makes it difficult to believe medical testing is accurate etc etc, often sufferers think perhaps they have a condition that's been overlooked or missed by their doctors or examiners.

    It's difficult to accept that perhaps the symptoms are not a result of physical illness, but once any testing/examination has been completed, any results must be accepted, ofcourse this is never easy for an anxiety sufferer, often help is needed to accept the cause of these unpleasant, overwhelming and frightening thoughts and feelings. Get your results first then work from there xxxx

  • I'm not worried about the gallbladder because some of my family and friends had to have there's taken out I'm worried they might see something else . I hate the way I think . I can't except anxiety is making me not eat .

  • I understand your struggle completely, I know how terrifying these feelings can be, there are so so many people suffering the same struggle.

    Worrying can not change an outcome, your stronger than you think, it's just that you've become over sensitized, it's not your fault, it's the anxious mind that's keeping your fears alive and it becomes difficult to think rationally.

    Take one thing at a time, have the rest of your tests, get the results and just tell yourself you'll deal with the rest later, allow yourself time and be patient, in the meantime look up those name's I mentioned on youtube, you'll find comfort and reassurance from the videos, use them as a tool to ease your mind and give you some peace xxx

  • Thanks ! And I feel like I have become sensitized I can feel every feeling in my stomach . I'm afraid of it as I think things are not ok in there 😞

  • I have gallstones too 😢

  • Mine don't cause pain. Do yours ?

  • YES! all the time, can't get it out of my head, everytime I feel something different I jump to conclusion thinking it might be 'bad' then think about it all day and this really stresses me out to the point I become unsteady, shaking hands and fatigued all day

  • Yes for the last year or so I've been worried about a brain tumor and have had constant symptoms of it ever since to the point where I had to stop working, can't drive or barely leave the house. I wish I could just get the testing done to determine if I have brain cancer or not so I can stop freaking out so much but my doctor won't believe me and it's hard to get those types of tests here😣 I've also diagnosed myself with many other cancers this past year that I realized I definitely don't have, but now along with the brain cancer, I've also been freaking out about colon cancer because I've found out it runs in my family and now I can't get that out of my head..I hate this so much

  • Yep. Thats why I don't watch medical shows or look up symptoms online.

  • Yes I can't look up symptoms online anymore. I still think there is something wrong with me at moment even though I have been to the docs who said there wasn't and was definitely anxiety. I struggle more at night when I wake up and left side feels tired and then I can't sleep with worry.

  • now this is Anxiety............ I used to but you have to believe you are healthy. The first mistakes we are having is that we pay attention to the symptoms and also scared of the symptoms repeating themselves. Try and remove these two, you will be fine by Gods grace.

  • This is a complex one because whilst you can't cause a specific illness by thinking about it, you can actually make yourself genuinely physically ill through worrying/obsessing about either illness in general or a specific illness. There are several specific conditions relating to it, the most specific is number 3 below, but for many people it's part of being seriously anxious, but for others it can be that you do actually have an undiganosed illness and when you think about it more, you notice the symptoms more. I'll list five conditions which relate to this and tell you about my own experience.

    1 - hyochondriasis - a serious neurotic condition, definitely NOT something to be mocked because it's a living hell

    2 - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - which is more typically Pure O when it's health related obsessions

    3 - Somatic symptom disorder - very real physical illness which can manifest is a large number of ways

    4 conversion disorders - though a little bit of a tangent, still worth including: these are when there are real symptoms which arise as the result of a psychological conflict. A tangent because the psychological conflict is likely to be unconscious although the physical symptoms are very real. Because it's not strictly relevant to the question asked, unlike the others I won't add anything below, I'll leave you to look it up yourselves

    5 - you have an undiagnosed illness that worrying about is making worse.

    The worst one first: Hypochondria. Arghhhh! This is the one everybody dreads because it's mocked, but it's actually a really horrible condition to have because contrary to the popular conception of hypochondriacs being simply "the worried well", it's an anxiety disorder - clinical name hypochodriasis - and whilst the worst direct symptom is that it does your bloody head in, it's also a cause of chronic stress, and chronic stress can kill you (link below). Again, contrary to popular belief, hypochondriacs don't think they have every illness going, but they are worried they might and the danger is in not seeking medical attention because they fear that they really are ill. This is the big misunderstanding: the popular misconception is that hypochondriacs think they have every illness going, but it's the opposit: true hypchondriacs have excessive fear that they have a serious illness. Not just one illness though, the condition can last a lifetime if not addressed and is a living nightmare because you're genuinely worried sick that you have something serious. Actually wanting to be ill or even faking illness for attention is called a Factitious Disorder. I have not included details here because it does not apply - it's interesting stuff though because it's a mental illness in its own right, but is the absolute opposite of hyponchondrias. Hypochondriacs do NOT want to be ill but they are terrified that they are.

    The danger. as said, is actually having something wrong with you but not seeking medical attention. This is usually for one of two reason: A, genuine fear that it is a serious problem and as long as you don't get checked out you can keep telling yourself "it's ok. I'm always obsessing about my health. I know there's nothing wrong. But what if there is? Nah. I'm fine. But it really hurts." It's also partially an "ignorance is bliss thing". But of course ignorance is not bliss, and even if it is the worst fear come true - usually cancer - many cancers have very high survival rates these days, but only if they're caught early. So the paradox for many hypochondriacs who do develop serious illnesses is they often become more serious than if they were caught earlier.

    The second reason hypochondriacs often don't go to the doctor is fear of being thought a fool/hypochondriac (according to the stereotypical idea). It's a totally self defeating and, worse, self perpetuating neurosis that will only ever get better by facing it and get help. It's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of because the only people who will mock you are effing morons who don't deserve to know you so b*ll*cks to them.

    Secondly there is bad old OCD. I attend an OCD support group because I have OCD hoarding (not all hoarding is OCD hoarding). There are usually 40 to 50 of us, all with OCD, so it's totally welcoming and friendly, and every time I go at least ten people share about illnesses. It's pretty standard when you have severe anxiety to think a headache is a brain tumour, but it's still really distressing and no laughing matter at all. As with hypochondriasis, Health related OCD (and hypochondriasis can merge into OCD) can lead to making yourself physically ill through stress, and chronic stress can cause everything from heart disease to obesity - not just from overeating, it can seriously screw with your metabolism because it basically sends your hormones haywire... I have just given the briefest overview here, but one thing I will add because many people have not heard of it, is a that there's a condition called Pure O. Which is the obsessions without the compulsions.

    With typical OCD (it's different for everyone so when I say typical I mean this is the definition of OCD) there are obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours usually paired so that the compulsion, which is often a ritual, is perfomed to help alleviate the distress of the obsession. The stereotypical example being compulsive handwashing because of and obsessive fear of infection. However, using my own case as an example, although I'm recovering well and can now actually manage to come home without some accumulated crap, up until maybe nine months ago, it was close to impossible for me to pass discarded furniture on the street without stopping to inspect it and very often I would take it to pieces - always carried a swiss army knife and leatherman type multitool - so I could get all the brackets, hinges, handles etc etc. If I didn't I would spend the rest of the day obsessing about what was going to happen at some time in the future when I came to build the eternal never actually going to get made pieces of furniture and didn't have that bracket, hinge, handle etc. It would drive me ARGHHHHH. But it totally took over my life and though I've almost stopped bringing stuff home - because sometimes it would be the furniture too and I only live in a smallish one bedroom flat - I've still got a literal ton of bicycle parts and bits of wood and metal and a thousand and one other things. I don't drive so have to rely on friends, and so far six car loads and one entire minibus full of crap has gone, but there is still about three car loads to go...

    So that's OCD, but Pure O is the obsession/s without the compulsions, and that is often what people who can't stop thinking about their health have possible got. Look for peer support groups in your area and speak to a relevant professional if you feel comfortable and/or ready for that.

    Third is the actual worst one of the lot:

    "Somatic symptom disorder (SSD formerly known as "somatization disorder" or "somatoform disorder") is a form of mental illness that causes one or more bodily symptoms, including pain. The symptoms may or may not be traceable to a physical cause including general medical conditions, other mental illnesses, or substance abuse. But regardless, they cause excessive and disproportionate levels of distress. The symptoms can involve one or more different organs and body systems, such as:

    Pain

    Neurologic problems

    Gastrointestinal complaints

    Sexual symptoms

    ...

    That's taken from the following link where you can read lots more, but I will add, because it's not clear in the paragraph above, that the symptoms are very real; just because it starts in the mind. So this is the most closely relevant one to the question asked. The rest of the article is here:

    webmd.com/mental-health/som...

    As said, not going to say anything else about conversion disorders because they're not strictly relevant. It's just that when you start learning about the relationship between the mind and physical illness it can actually help reduce anxiety. That's been my experience anyway. As has:

    5 - you actually have an undiagnosed physical condition that is causing you pain and when you think about it - or, to use the jargon of psychology - when you attend to it, you notice the pain more.

    It's actually surprisingly common how many people have quite debilitating conditions without realising it because they are intangible and, most infuriating, they fluctuate. So you might feel like death one day and right as rain the next. This is the case with my own illness, which I'll tell you a little about in a minute, but first: if you keep experiencing significant or persistent pain, aches, soreness or whatever GO TO YOUR DOCTOR. And if they're dismissive, go to a different doctor. There are over half a million people in the UK with the condition I have but when I was diagnosed in 2008 only about 30% of GPs had heard of it. Now it's about 50%, which means half of uk GPs don't know what hypermobility syndrome is even though three percent of the population have it. at least a quarter of those people will go their whole lifes experinecing a huge range of weird symptoms but never be diagnosed, and because it's such a strange condition and fluctuates so wildly, it is literally like having twenty different conditions. So if you're experiencing any symptoms and you're worried, or even if you're not worried - which is the case with a lot of men in Western Culture, which is why so many curable cancers become fatal simply because they left it too late to get checked...

    Quickly about me then: I ignored my aches and pains for years, in part because of hypochondriasis. Once I got diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome though, and realised that it causes a thousand and one weird and not wonderful symptoms but is not life threatening, I was able to start learning to manage it. To give you some idea: it's primarily an excess of collagen, the stuff that gives you strechiness, so everywhere there is collagen there can be pain. So that's obviously the joints, but all of your muscles, skin, even bone is half collagen. Pain can be of any type imaginable from intching to cramps, from burning to stabbing pain, anywhere on your body, can come on suddenly or gradually, can dissappear the same, can last from miliseconds to weeks and be barely noticable to excruciating. And 75% of us also have various autonomic nervous system issues - so that's the part of your brain which controls automatic process. So, for example, I have balance problems, spontaneous blurry vision, vertigo, digestive problems. The list is endless. We all thought my mom was a hypochondriac because she was at the doctors with something different every month, but when I was dianosed the specialist who took an extensive family history said "your mother has almost definitely got this condition, she needs to get checked". So she did and she has, and low and behold, 90% of all the problems which numerous GPs over more than 30 years could not find any cause for, they are all symptoms of hypermobility syndrome. Everything from IBS type symtpoms to chest cramps so bad it feels like a heart attack. And as around 3% of the population has this, there's a fair chance someone reading this might.

    I had lots of stuff wrong over the years but ignored it and had another pint, but eventually when I trained as a masseur the pain became unbearable and I went to my doctor thinking it was arthritis and by great luck it was a locum who knew about the condition: my own GP didn't so if she had not been on holiday I might still be waiting for a diagnosis.

    If you're wondering how I know the answers to the question about the mind causing physical illness, it's because once I was declared disabled and it became harder and harder to work, I decided to go to uni and I completed a psychology degree three years ago (at the age of 44 - so it's never too late), and my area of special interest is chronic unseen medical conditions / invisible disabilities, of which hypermobility syndrome is one. I also had chronic fatigue for 3 years but it's now managed with vitamin B12 injections - which also help my anxiety a tiny bit but completely removed the brain fogs I had for years and the depression I had for decades. I am very fortunate in the last one because few people have depression that can be "cured" so easily - well, easily is debateable as it was only through my education and being able to harass my doctor with actual medical research rather than opinion from Dr. Google that I finally got it sorted. And right now I'm finally getting tested for a sleep disorder I've had for years and it has taken SEVEN frikin years, but finally have and MRI later today and a whole barrage of tests over the next few months. IN short, it's much better to know because otherwise you'll drive yourself insane AND make yourself physically ill in the process.

    Hope his has been useful, Here a link to an outstanding vid about stress. Watching this could change your life in a very positive way

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