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Living with Anxiety
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Health anxiety struggles

Hi everyone,

My partner has ocd and I also think that he has health anxiety. The health anxiety has started in the past six months after him suffering with ibs. There were numerous trips to the doctors and hospital and only last week did we get an official diagnosis of ibs from the doctors. He always believes that there is something really wrong with him, such as cancer, despite constant reassurance from myself and others. I thought that this diagnosis would finally put it mind at rest but if anything the anxiety has got worse against.

He is constantly googling health related things which just leads to more panic and upset and this in turn triggers his ibs. It’s a vicious cycle but he can’t seem to get out of it.

It’s starting to have quite an impact on me because I hate seeing him upset and I feel like nothing I do makes a difference, so I feel quite useless and down about it.

Any advice or suggestions on things I could do or try to help either of us would be greatly appreciated?

Thank you x :)

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Dealing with OCD is difficult so I know your position. Once one diagnosis becomes official the wonder of another comes along.

From what you are going through you may need to take a step back and look at the picture from a different angle, rather than being in the picture and getting overwhelmed.

When doing so you may see missing pieces of the picture in which you have missed while going through what you have been through trying to find answers.

When I was in your position that is what I did, and saw a clearer picture at what was going on. I was then able to get a better understanding, find what I was missing, then go back into the matter and defeat the OCD. ☺️

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Thank you for the reply! That’s really good advice, I appreciate it x

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Anytime. 😊

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OCD has multiple components ... the obsession, and the compulsion to do something about it. I'd recommend getting him a journal so he can write about his health concerns when he notices them. Writing "I am concerned about my digestion, and I am willing to have faith it will get better." or whatever ending mantra gives him a sense of peace can help.

I suffer from health anxiety and OCD, and also recognize the coping pattern of endless research. The truth is ... we will never know what is going on, there is no magic one answer or set of conditions for any one person. He needs to be willing to start training his brain instead of feeling the IBS/sensations, and then trying to solve it with research/worry. It's actually counter-productive at this stage. So he can write down in the journal whenever he feels something, which causes him to want to research and try to solve it with his brain. Anxiety is also multifaceted, there is no one anxiety. Often it is referred to as a preoccupation with the future, but I find it more anytime you have an over-active mind that attends to areas of our life we cannot realistically change in the moment. The amygdala spurs anxiety, or anxious feelings as a way to protect you from danger. Your partner may think "IBS" causes danger, which may be true, but is not always true. He needs to learn to ask himself "Am I in imminent danger" as soon as he notices the anxiety is rising. It's a protection mechanism, but can hurt if it is overactive. This begins the process of "letting go" or I prefer to say "leaving it be" ... which takes practice, but will get easier over time. Also, as most depressive/anxious disorders, they have a strong focus on the self. What is happening in my body? Why am I feeling so low?, etc etc These are all times when your mind's attention is focused on itself, on your body, your mind, your world. I'd recommend he get involved in support groups at local healthcare provider or research NAMI (National Alliances on Mental Illness) peer to peer groups. There can be a lot of stigma that comes with acknowledging this is a mental illness, or partial display of it. However, he needs to start focusing his attention on others, on helping others, and doing things that take his attention and mind of his own issues. This may be distracting with netflix at times, or it may be anything else he takes pleasure in and can't sink his attention into wholeheartedly. The beauty is that our brain is plastic, and over time, and with patience and persistence we can change it. It may not happen when, or how we want it, but it can and does happen for many people. I'd also recommend the book "Badass Ways to End Anxiety & Stop Panic Attacks! - A counterintuitive approach to recover and regain control of your life.: Die-Hard and Science-Based ... recover from Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks ". The sooner he starts to gain tools(DBT, CBT), coping skills (deep breathing, exercise, good sleep hygiene), the better.

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Thank you very much for your response. This has actually helped me understand a little better what might be going through his head, so I really appreciate it. The journal thing is a really great idea and I think it is something that could be really effective. Thank you so much for your help! X

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