How to cope with health anxiety?

Does anyone know any ways of how to control health anxiety? I feel like it's taking over my life now. Every day there is always something wrong with me and any small symptom I seem to think is the start of a serious disease.. A few months ago I had a migraine on and off for about a month and I was crying most days because I thought I had a brain tumour and was dying, silly I know. Before that I was feeling dizzy and light headed and I thought there was something wrong with my heart as I seem to think at any moment I could have a cardiac arrest or my heart could just stop for no reason, I also check my heart rate to make sure it's beating normal but I wouldn't even know if it was anyway! After the migraine I had this horrible sickly feeling in my throat like something was pressing against my windpipe but was told it was down to anxiety. Now I get pains in my arms that come and go and also pains in my legs, infact the pains can come just about everywhere on my body, last night I had pains in my stomach and feeling sick and I seem to think I've got something terrible like cancer. I have a habit of searching symptoms on the Internet too and on one website it said arm pain can be a symptom of pancreatic cancer and I worry about having that. I can't stop worrying, it's always at the back of my mind and I just wish it would go away, I've always been a worrier but never to this extent. I have a fear of going to the doctors too incase he tells me I've got a life threatening illness. I heard aswell that worrying is a cause of diseases such as cancer and can lead to things like that and it's making me even more worried that I could get it because of all this anxiety I'm suffering from but it just makes me worry more. Also, you may find this surprising but I'm only 16 and I just want this to stop before it escalates into something much bigger if it hasn't already.. Does anyone else suffer from the pains in the arms/legs, and how do I know it is definitely an anxiety symptom and not something else? I should be enjoying my teenage life right now but I just can't because of this, any advice please? Thank you :)


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45 Replies

  • Hi Siobhan, I really feel for you. Anxiety is a very scary thing but it can be dealt with.

    Do you have someone close you can go to the doctor with? Once you know there is nothing physically wrong you can concentrate on getting rid of the anxiety. Do you go running or walking etc? I find its great for keeping anxiety level low. I've also cut out caffeine completely. I used to get all sorts of funny aches and pains. I realised it was from tensing my muscles up all the time with stress. I hope this has helped you in some way. You are not alone.x

  • Hello! It sounds like you have GERD acid reflux. It's like when we don't know what's going on we start thinking of all kinds of different scary things are wrong with us. But it sounds to me it's acid reflux then that causes anxiety then that causes you to think all kinds of things are wrong. I go thru this daily. But it seems like the symptoms are real. I fight these thoughts too. I hate it!

  • I have recently been doing quick yoga videos specifically for anxiety and they did actually help. You can find lots on you tube :)

    When I get anxious I go walking and it usually helps a bit, especially when I het so anxious I can't sit still.

    When I get a lot of intrusive thoughts I take .05 lorazepam and it seems to make them go away for the most part. But I am not suggesting that anyone goes on meds. I have tried a lot of different anxiety meds and the side effects were worse for me than the initial issues so I've been med free for 4 years. Bit if I feel an attack coming on I need to stop it as my attacks last for hours and sometimes days, with the last one being 15 hours and 2 trips to the ER.

    The anxiety won't last forever, I speak from experience. I know it seems like it will but it doesn't. Mine will go away for months and up until recently years.

    I use to go to an anxiety and research clinic at a local hospital and it help so much! But I live in Canada and did not have to pay for it. I do know that there is affordable on line counseling available to everyone though and the therapists are licenced.

    I hope you feel better real soon xo


  • Hi Siobhan, it sounds like you're really suffering with this. I have health anxiety, it's a horrible thing. You have it similar to me; some people just get a fear of one specific thing (like cancer or heart attack) whereas, like you, I can get it for any physical symptom whatsoever. First thing to bear in mind is that the chances are, all of the pains you get are anxiety itself. That's the problem with anxiety; one of my most common problems was fearing a heart attack, and what does anxiety do? Raises your heart rate and makes you feel like you're having a heart attack! It's a vicious cycle.

    The first thing I'd suggest is getting some help; obviously you can go through your doctor or, if that's too hard, Anxiety UK are there to help and can refer you for CBT or other therapy (whatever suits you). I've also got a copy of the book 'Overcoming Health Anxiety' by Rob Willson and David Veale which does what the title says... it tries to help people like us overcome health anxiety! I wouldn't say that this is the only solution though, I learnt the best thing to do is talk to a professional who understands what you're going through. You've already taken an important step by being open about it on here. Involve family and friends too if you feel you can, they may not understand exactly what you're going through but they can support you through it.

    You will get through this, I know how hard it can be, but trust me you're not alone :) Best wishes.

  • HI. How can I get that book

  • Hi - you sound very much like me before I was diagnosed with anxiety - worried about every little symptom & then it all spiralling into full blown anxiety & panic. I'm now a lot better thanks to therapy. You have progressed in that you know that you have health anxiety so you can start to address it. I would say talk to the GP about getting therapy - cognitive behavioural therapy did wonders for me.

    By the way the arm and leg pain was something I also had a lot - I now know that it is caused by having too much of the stress hormone cortisol (caused by anxiety) in your blood.

    Also I agree with duckula that exercise & sport is really helpful. Once I realised I could go for a run then there couldn't be anything wrong with me!

    Best Wishes - hope this helps.

  • hello just to try and reassure you yes , anxiety causes all sorts of things. I imagine indigestion is a heart attack, pain in the arm is a stroke and so on.. Please see the doc he can reassure you and perhaps get counselling for you.. You are not alone and any time you feel like this you can contact me if it will help.. I know as many ppl on here do how it feels..good luck xx

  • Im like this daily im convinced im going to die but doctors says its anxiety

  • Sounds like me too.

    I've battled with Health Anxiety off and on for 20 years now.

    Advice - two words - DON'T GOOGLE - I wish I could follow this advice myself but I'm drawn like a moth to a light by the PC every time I get a pain!

  • i have severe health anxiety and my finger just does it automatically. it goes on google and types it up. i'm now stuck in the thought of having pesticides but i am VERy sure i do because i have been in contact with it but i don't know what to do<;; should i go to the doctor? IDK so i'm just gonna have to stay with my obsessive thoughts like i always do<;;;

  • I suffer with this also, I thought I was the only one that thought this way, like they all said find someone to talk too an try to stay active!!! Pray you feel better

  • same<; the only problem is for me that there is a very big chance i do actually have the illness i am so paranoid about. i have been in contact w it so many times!!! all the symptons are righttt too

  • Health anxiety is not a joke – it can really ruin lives. That is why, I always keep something to protect me. KECHARA HEALING CHAKRAS “WHITE TARA” for Long Life . It actually Counteracts illnesses. God bless you.. you are not in this fight alone.

  • Hi....pls can i have any way I can contact you privately

  • Omg, just read this and i am exactly the same!! i have terrible headaches, it has been five yrs now and they are always there in the same spot so i have been convinced i have a tumour. I can even 'feel'it there in my head! i went to a neurologist in the end but he wouldnt even do a scan. He said it was anxiety and depression! But everytime i get one of my headaches i still absolutely panic that 'this is it this time!!' then the headache goes again!! Then something else comes up and i panic and google it. I am constantly living with some horrible worst case senario disease all the time. Its a nightmare. When i read stories in papers and magz about illnesses it makes things ten times worse and i think thats where this started! i do have a thyroid problem though and you may want to check thyroid probs out as you mentioned those aches adn pains and the windpipe thing. Thogh pls dont think im scaring you, im just saying thats how i feel a lot but it could be thyroid or anxiety. Hope you feel better soon and get something to

  • HI. How your coping now?

  • i have this every little thing i think the worse. just letting you know you`re not alone.x

  • Hi Siobhan,

    Reading your post actually reminded me of myself. I am exactly the same with health anxiety.

    Yes i get the pains in my arms and legs and also i get a constant pain in my chest like there is something stuck in there and i have also had the throat feeling that you have mentioned.

    Mine started back in January and i lost track of how many doctors i seen about it as i though something was really wrong with me, i even went to A&E for an ECG as i was convinced something was wrong with my heart. I eventually got the courage to speak to my GP properly and since then things are getting a little easier to deal with, so i would advise you to go and have a chat with your GP. xx

  • Hi all, I am also exactly the same! It was like reading my own post!!

    Things will get better for you hun you really should go and see your GP or find help from somewhere!! Please don't try and do this on your own!!!

  • Hi All - reading all these posts is just like reading about myself. It doesn't make me feel better to know that there are so many people out there suffering, but it's comforting to know I'm not alone. All I can say is: DON'T LOOK ON THE INTERNET, it's probably the worst thing you can do as you're feeding your fear. I've done it in the past but now avoid it like the plague as I know how easy it is to misinterpret stuff when you're worryng about any health problem. I try to reason with myself and for every negative idea, I try to replace it with a positive one, i.e. What if it's cancer? What if it isn't? Doesn't always work, but is worth a try. I'm about to try CBT and will let you know how it goes. My thoughts are with you all.

  • It's like reading my own words,how spooky,I was exactly the same as you ,but I started to avoid things that I knew would make me think I had cancer,I stopped reading papers in case I saw something or someone with cancer,I would switch tv channels if something came on with cancer,if I knew someone with it I would avoid going to see them,so basically I was starting to become home bound as it was my safe haven I could control what I saw and who i saw,not very healthy as I stopped going out so much.Two years I have been getting counselling ,it's has helped ,but I still suffer bad,I had to get trauma counciling as they thought what happened when a was a child had a lot to do with my anxiety,my dad was an alochilic,and violent to my mother,but it was mental abuse I got,I was mollested when I was 5 and was to scared to tell anyone,and was sexually assaulted when I was 11,and also was forced to see dead bodies of relations who had died when I was young.Iam on on antidepressants for the anxiety but the feelings don't go away ,just keep thinking every little twinge I have cancer and have become so bodily sensitive I pick up on everything,some days I feel I can't go on and wish there was a magical cure ,but there's not,I would to hear from people who have gotten through this ,as no one speaks about it and you feel isolated and ashamed x

  • What you have just wrote is me down to a T anything to do with the horrible C word I'm a mess if I hear anyone talking about it or see it in papers or on tv it's like I try to not listen ! Every pain I get I always think the worse having anxiety and thinking you have all sorts of things wrong with you is the worse and a horrible place to be in 😔! I was told a few months back I had bipolar and borderline personality disorder !! It is comforting to no we aren't going through it alone tho 😊

  • what a relief, i hate the fact that we're all here in the first place, but it really is a comfort to know we can come on here and openly discuss our thoughts and fears with people who are in the same situation.

    i too have major health anxiety. i'm constantly living in fear of what might or might not be wrong with me , and it wears you down. i'm basically dealing with it without meds and just trying to be as positive as i can day to day,

    what i say to myself is,, i have had health anxiety for as long as i can remember and every ailment possible, in my head anyway. if there was anything seriously wrong surely i wouldn't be hear to post about it :)

    so it must just be pure anxiety.

    best wishes

  • This is so reassuring to hear other people are also suffering from this! I have had pains that started in my legs last week (I was convinced I had a blood clot!) and it slowly spread to every single area of my body. I plucked up the courage to go to the Dr because in the end I was beginning to think I had a spinal tumour. My Dr has diagnosed me with Health anxiety, and Hyperventilation Syndrome which means I breath too much, due to worry, which causes heart palpitations and pains. I also have an eating disorder and OCD. He has referred me for CBT and offered medication which I have refused, as I feel medication will only cause side effects and make me worry even more. Although I have a diagnoses it doesn't stop the worry! Daily life can be such an effort when you have this condition.

    Best Wishes, J.

  • Can relate so much to these commens It's such a sad and lonely place to be. I don't discuss it with anyone as I know they'll think I'm mad. I avoid the doctor as i'm scared of the diagnoses. I'm constantly arguing with myself that I'm wasting my life and missing out on quality time with my children. I go through each day putting on an act. No one has any idea that when I'm alone the darkness descends and it's all about the illnesses, the arrangements i ought to make if I die. I've tried antidepressant but the side effects made my anxiety worse. I've had therapy but it's not helping. I'm going to order the book mentioned above to see if that can help me. What I do know is that on the rare occasion when i'm anxiety free, i feel incredible.

  • The best advise I can give anyone suffering from Health Anxiety is ask your Gp for a referrel for CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) this is a fantastic treatment .I have suffered Panic Attacks for over 35 yrs so have lots of experience.

    My health anxieties were out of control and I could conjure up any life threatening illness any time I got a twinge of pain.

    Good Luck and remember you are not alone x

  • I have had all the symptoms you are experiencing and even more and yes they are due to your anxiety when you start to worry about a health issue try to immediately close your eyes and count backwards from twenty and then breathe slowly thru your nose and exhale out your mouth concentrate only on the breathing at that point I promise you that most of the time we are thinking we are seriously ill we are not but anxiety is vicious and lets us believe we are you can train your mind to think differently I promise u can ive done it for 20 days straight now and I don't have as much anxiety and my panic attacks are gone sending lots of hugs your way always here if you need me

  • I deal with these same things I've worked myself into a frenzy and absolutely believing I'm gonna die and every day is my last.

  • I suffer severe health anxiety its takin over my life every day I worry mainly about my head and neck as get tingling sensations in my scalp and hot sensations without fail I get it every day want to feel normal again x

  • Me too

  • I need help...iam so worried

  • I need help...iam so worried

  • Me too! When I wake up I think in have cancer or other Heath issues its take over my life and me having fun😩

  • Wow I doubt you would see this as you posted three years ago but I have exactly the same feelings as you. I'm 24 but in September 2015 my Dad had a heart attack at 66. He survived thankfully but I don't live at home so was not there and he was out of hospital after five days and perfectly fine so it didn't phase me. He did however get diagnosed with heart disease (which is quite easily kept under control with medication) and needed a stent fitted on a narrowed artery which was on 10th Jan 2016 (he had turned 67 by this point and these sort of things are common at his age). He was prescribed medicines after his heart attack to thin his blood in preparation for his stent fitting. I decided to move back home in case anything were to happen in October 2015 but never felt any anxiety. Four days before his stent fitting he had an allergic reaction to the medicine to thin his blood for some reason and had an edema to his face where his lips and cheeks completely swelled and he looked unrecognizable. This was nothing to do with his heart though simply an allergic reaction and after being taken in to hospital and had adrenaline administered the swelling had completely nullified within three hours. For the first week or two after this happened I felt myself glued to google typing silly things in about my own health and became a doctor in my own right diagnosing myself with everything you could imagine. I have been a smoker since I was 21 and came to the conclusion in three years due to smoking my body is beyond repair and I have all types of diseases. I was thinking I was having chest pains and a heart attack was coming on. However this was all nonsense it was just anxiety playing with me. I decided like most people are saying to get off google as anyone can make up anything and put it out there which naturally would cause worry. I haven't searched anything in regards to health on google for two weeks and now them symptoms of anxiety are slowly but surely going away. Our bodies really are machines and will sustain a lot of wear and tear throughout our lives. I believe the anxiety in me came on with seeing my Dad's face the way I did so maybe a little different to yourself but it's anxiety all the same. You must be 19 now and not even a quarter of a way through life. Time is a great healer as well as therapy. I do hope you're enjoying life now.

  • Hi my name is Joe I have been dealing with these same feelings I see many of you talking about. I was 26 when my father passed away and had my first panic attack it was 1985 I am now 56 and still have anxiety issues, pains, heart racing, dizziness, all kinds of stomach pains. I've been to tons of Dr's and also to counseling for about 10 years. this really helped but you have to learn to keep pushing forward everyday. first If you are having any of these symptoms it is always best to see a Dr first and get the ok to push yourself. You have to fight everyday and it does get better. Also I would read lots of books on Anxiety these things do help. get around people that have been through Anxiety and panic it all helps time and research whatever you do never give in or give up. Tomorrow will always get better. I have also had all of these symptoms Anxiety is a very scary feeling.

  • Yes, same here! If I have a headache, it is a brain tumor, if I have any chest is a heart attack, if I have back pain it is kidney failure etc...

    I focus so much on every ache and pain that I convince myself something really is wrong. I have to stop thinking so much about it!

  • Hey funny thing is, I'm also 16 and I have exactly the issues that you are having! :(

  • You explained me exactly. Let me guess, tightness in throat, constant researching, trying to convince yourself something is wrong but also for something to not be wrong. Try distracting your self from it, by playing games or watching tv. When you eat food, you have the thought of choking but in the end every Was perfectly fine. Shortness of breath. Arms legs best feel sore. Often feel like they are throbbing. Panick attacks every so often. When you do physical activity you worry about your heart and how fast or slow it's beating. Lots of times, you might be worried about going to sleep. Stress out but only about your health. I'm 16 also and I believe after smok By weed it triggered my anxiety. I stopped for good and now I feel better about myself but always concerned about my health.

  • You have described everything absolutely everything that is happening to me. 😞 That's crazy I'm only 22 years old. ever since I got rid of my epilepsy I've gotten this fear. They only way it goes away is by praying and praying I'm laso going to start excersicing I think it would help anyone least I think so.

  • Hi guys. I have been having brain scans heart tests and all tests for months as i have had onething after another!

    Its so hard to understand that maybe my body is doing this there is nothing actully wrong. My doc things it may be due to anxiety im finding it really hard to believe as i cant be doing this to my self, im actually really in pain! Im actually really sick how can this be anxity it is really hard to understand and i really still cant get my head around it but how can i be in pain all the time? I feel like a idiot going to docs all the time. It started maybe 6 7 months ago. I had realy bed head presure and pain, then it was my heart i was in pain in my chest all the time for weeks, then dizzyness kicked in to the point i couldnt stand, then it was pain in my neck i couldnt even move it still sore weeks later now. I still get on and off dizzyness and pains in my head. I have had all heart tests all fine. Brain scan fine. Now its my stomach and im scared its apendix... what is happening i dont get it. Im really bussy woth 3 kids all days long i dont have time for this thats why i cant believe its anxity ???

  • Same here!

  • I hate it it has made my life terrible but what I try are breathing excesercises slowly and I get massaged and breath through a paper bag hopefully that helped I am only 10 asswell

  • Hi. I know these posts are old, but I'm up half the night reading all I can on anxiety that my 9 year old daughter is suffering from. it's gone from anxiety/worries that give her very frequent sore tummies ( she's been diagnosed with Functional abdominal pain syndrome, meaning her organs ate all perfect but the anxiety causes real pain for her). I had noticed she is struggling with some girls at school a couple of months back, the teacher priciest and I put a plan in place where they go and check on her rather than her being told to seek them out, she's scared to interrupt them in the staff room. Now I see that she is perhaps developing health anxiety. She didn't want to sleep alone again tonight and told me she needed to talk to me.

    We went up to her bedroom and she told me she had been feeling crappy all week. she burst into tears and told me she thinks she has cancer and what will she do, she is scared of dying, she is scared of me dying. It breaks my heart. she's only 9. I will explain when the anxiety started etc on a night soon when it's not 230 am. anyways I hope everyone on here is doing well. thanks for reading.

  • Hello Siobhan , I understand your pain km passing through same since I gave birth to my baby... I feel dizzy every day doctors said I'm OK nothing I wrong with me that's anxiety.. Most times kt increased my blood pressure... But I found something that helps magnesium supplement just browse for good ones.... It calms me I sleep well and I'm beginning to enjoy my Self as before. Good luck xxx

  • Hi All, am new to this forum however I see some of the same issues that have me concerned which is do I really suffer from health anxiety and I learned yes!

    For it all started out with a diagnosis of being a type 2 diabetic and am very athletic inclined health conscious person. thinking it's the end of the world with this ailment. I have no problem controlling the blood sugar, for me it's the anxiety over managing such illness that is progressively keeping me worried 😩 over my body in general?!?!

    Health anxiety is real that it question, if you don't have a problem, you now do for thinking you have problem, to having a problem that what not at first a problem! I tell any and everyone stop ✋ googling on the internet to search what you may not or may have! It's too-- much information out there that have nothing and I mean nothing to do with a health issues, and this here along can give you false interpretations of trying to depict what's going on with your health. Go to the doctor to find out what if anything you need to know and let them help you with whatever it may be that's on your mind. Meanwhile find ways to ease your mind do so meditation, yoga, drink some relaxing teas, take a walk be greatful and think about others who may have a greater worry then you and believe me things will get better in time. Good luck!

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