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Topic: Health anxiety. How do you cope?

14 posts, 0 answered
  1. User1999
    User1999 avatar
    6 posts
    11 June 2020
    Hi everyone. I’m interested in hearing everyone’s stories of health anxiety and how they cope with it. I work in healthcare, with people who are terminally ill. And I find myself constantly panicking and obsessing over little symptoms of my own and convincing myself I’m really ill. I’m only 21 and I don’t have any major symptoms of anything. My paranoia has gotten to the point where I’m terrified to go see my doctor about anything, for fear of bad news. Which is very irrational. But I finally have made an appointment with my GP next week to discuss my health concerns, and organise a mental health plan to see a psychologist about my anxiety. Has anyone here experienced this? How do you cope? Did a psychologist help? I want to hear all about your experiences with health anxiety. Thanks!
    1 person found this helpful
  2. ecomama
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    ecomama avatar
    2591 posts
    11 June 2020 in reply to User1999

    Hi User1999

    Welcome to the forums. I hope you can find the support you're looking for here. I commend you on seeing your GP and looking for a Counsellor / Psych for support too. Great work!

    I work in a high stress field and support many people who have significant life issues.
    I get compassion fatigue. I've recently been formally diagnosed with anxiety and PTSD - they overlap anyway.
    It was my personal life experiences that gave me PTSD (if I can put it that way lol), not really work.

    It's no wonder that when you've been immersed in such a high stress level job, caring for people compassionately and having them face their own demise, that you're struggling with thoughts for yourself.

    Sometimes our workplaces are so crazy busy, we need to get home to unwind but I've found I need a 'middle ground' time between after work and before getting home. It's like a portal I need to go into to destress, maybe write things down that REALLY upset me and find a peaceful place of calm - leaving work at work if possible. It would greatly improve the mental wellbeing of workers like you and I if we had a 'group session' run by a MH professional for 30m after work but that's probably for next century lol.

    At night I dream of solutions lol. I have a scrapbook and fat crayon next to my bed so if a dream wakes me up, I don't turn the light on, I reach for the crayon, scribble a key word and then I can sleep. I also don't have any clocks in my bedroom or ever look at my phone in the middle of the night. I found that I was constantly waking up, seeing the time and feeling awful. I sleep so much better with MH support too.

    My strategies for dealing with anxiety are many. Grounding exercises are what we need.

    I decided a long time ago that I wanted to be in this field for the long haul and not go out fast (HIGH turnover rate). It's now been close to 40y. I take leave when I need to.

    I've had a constant Counsellor for 4+y I think, she's great. She grounded me during the worst times of my life.
    I needed more for my PTSD so sought a Specialist Trauma Psychologist and took leave to begin weekly appointments recently.

    There are lots of great threads and information on anxiety here and online.

    Gardening and networking around my interests brought me out of a very deep depression around 20y ago.
    I can't take meds.
    Mindfulness whilst gardening is a great grounding activity now, amongst many others.

    Best wishes and thankyou for your work.

    EM

    1 person found this helpful
  3. josh1245
    josh1245 avatar
    173 posts
    11 June 2020 in reply to User1999
    hey user1999 I would firstly like to welcome you to this wonderful online community. I'm really sorry that you are currently going through a hard time at the moment with your thoughts and emotions. try not to look up your physical symptoms because google can give you a diagnosis that is really severe and most likely the case at all and can cause severe anxiety. its really good that you are going to your gp and organising a mental health care plan because a psychologist can help you control your feelings and can teach you how to cope and overcome the issues your currently experiencing at the moment.
    2 people found this helpful
  4. User1999
    User1999 avatar
    6 posts
    11 June 2020 in reply to josh1245
    Thank you! I really appreciate it
    1 person found this helpful
  5. User1999
    User1999 avatar
    6 posts
    11 June 2020 in reply to ecomama
    Thank you so much! This was wonderful to read. It’s made me a feel a whole lot better and less alone. I hope things really improve for you, you’re doing great.
    1 person found this helpful
  6. jemma09
    jemma09 avatar
    64 posts
    12 June 2020 in reply to User1999

    Hi User1999!

    Good on you for reaching out here. This is a wonderful community and we are here whenever you need. I am glad to hear that you are not experiencing any major symptoms. It is also wonderful that you have made an appointment with your GP about your mental health. That is a great first step to getting the support you need. Be proud of yourself for advocating for your mental health. :)

    I also work in healthcare and am very interested in health/anatomy so this adds another layer for health anxiety I feel. As we are so aware of different conditions and such, our brains can kick into overdrive. I personally have had health anxiety on and off since childhood. Would present as: being scared of death/diagnoses, catastrophizing, googling symptoms and also physical anxiety symptoms (like muscle tension, dizziness, headaches, tiredness, etc). I made an appointment with my GP to get a mental health care plan for anxiety. I go to headspace, which is free for under 25s. I have found having a psychologist to be an amazing experience. I will admit the first psychologist I met I did not click with, and that is completely okay. You can try different people until you find someone who really understands you. My second psychologist has been great. Straight to the point with good advice too. For me personally if I am having symptoms or worries about symptoms I try to be mindful in the moment by thinking of my senses - for example: the smells in the air or the taste of my cup of tea. I also shift my focus onto a part of my body that feels okay.

    I wish you all the best with your appointments. Be kind to yourself, you are doing a great job. :)

    1 person found this helpful
  7. User1999
    User1999 avatar
    6 posts
    12 June 2020 in reply to jemma09
    Thank you so much! This was super helpful. I’ve had anxiety since I was little too and started some medications back then, but I’ve never had this intense health anxiety! Just need to learn to navigate it now. Thanks for the help, I hope everything goes really well for you! You’re doing awesome
    2 people found this helpful
  8. ecomama
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    ecomama avatar
    2591 posts
    13 June 2020 in reply to User1999

    You sound like such a positive person, I'm sure you're going to work very well with the psychologist you settle with.

    You can come back to your thread any time no matter how you're feeling.

    Please let us know how you get on with things. People are really interested in what works for other and what doesn't work lol.

    Take the best of care
    EM

  9. josh1245
    josh1245 avatar
    173 posts
    13 June 2020 in reply to User1999
    no problem is my pleasure I would like to hear you from the future and see how you are going.
    1 person found this helpful
  10. 0antman
    0antman avatar
    5 posts
    15 June 2020 in reply to User1999

    My health anxiety has really flared up recently. It truly is the worst thing and is the leading cause of my anxiety. It tags with OCD, and has me checking my body for spots, or if I feel slight chest pain I feel I will have a heart attack. Over the last 12 months, I have been to the ER twice.

    Now I had a small pimple that bled on my face, and I immediately thought it would be threatening and I had a mini panic episode. This has caused me to have poor sleep patterns and it has really affected me recently.

    I was on an SSRI in 2013 after having my first true onset of OCD/Health anxiety, and it really did help me and stopped all the worry; but once the anxiety went away, I decided to stop the meds. Unfortunately, I have had a few flare ups since then and recently, it has been really hard. Always checking my skin constantly and being super conscious of any minor heart beat and 'abnormality'. It truly is soooo frustrating.

    But im holding on to the fact that I can beat this and get some relief :) And I know you can too

    Thanks for posting. Really means a lot to know that I am not alone out there

  11. User1999
    User1999 avatar
    6 posts
    17 June 2020 in reply to 0antman

    Thanks for writing! It’s quite debilitating hey. I never realised how intense it could actually be! I also have been diagnosed with OCD and anxiety and was put on SSRIs 8 years ago, only recently have I stopped taking them because of emotional bluntness. I saw my gp this week and made him check all my health concerns and getting the reassurance that I’m healthy was SUCH a relief and I highly recommend going and chatting to the GP about it. Also planning to try a new medication and see a psychologist again for a while to get my worries off my chest. We can totally beat this! I wish you all the best, you got this!

    1 person found this helpful
  12. CatastrophySam
    CatastrophySam avatar
    9 posts
    18 June 2020 in reply to User1999

    Hi User1999,

    My psychologist works in the oncology ward and is also faced with the same. She has to do regular maintenance on herself in terms of meditation and taking regular breaks from work otherwise it gets a bit overwhelming for her. Coming from someone that seems so steady and strong minded it was enlightening to know that everyone no matter who they are, they can be affected by stress and anxiety.

    Cheers,

    Sam

    2 people found this helpful
  13. jemma09
    jemma09 avatar
    64 posts
    19 June 2020 in reply to User1999

    Hi again User1999

    Thank you! I am glad to hear that!

    That is understandable. I wish you all the best with managing your health anxiety.

    Thanks! Be kind to yourself :)

    1 person found this helpful
  14. User1999
    User1999 avatar
    6 posts
    6 July 2020
    Update for anyone interested/needing advice: my gp prescribed me a different medication. My health anxiety is pretty much gone - like magic. Now when I get a headache or a pain I think: “I must have strained myself” - not: “omg it’s cancer” like I used to. It’s stopped my constant panic and ‘worst case scenario’ mindset. I’d been on one medication for 9 years and thought it was working well, but the medication switch has really helped me. If you’re feeling obsessively anxious and struggling with debilitating health anxiety, I really recommend just seeing your gp and chatting. It was very nerve racking but it’s quickly solved the issue for me. Goodluck everyone!! You can handle anything :)

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