The Types Of Anxiety You Should Accept Rather Than Get Rid Of
Anxiety might always be with you, and thats OK. Having it is normal and healthy. Its part of our evolutionary make up, a leftover instinct from when our ancestors were at the mercy of wild animals that could kill them in an instant.
Anxiety keeps us alive, said Daryl Cioffi, a therapist and professor of neuropsychology. Its what stops us from crossing the street without looking or walking down a dark street and not looking at our surroundings.
Besides aiding us in staying physically intact, anxiety is a practical emotion that helps us be responsible. If you have a deadline for work, you might experience a little anxiety about missing it. It will motivate you to get the work done on time. Or maybe you have kids and worry about their safety. This is simply part of being a responsible parent.
Anxiety is also useful in helping us determine what psychological issues we need to address. Think of how physical pain tells us which areas of our body need attention and care. Anxiety is similar.
If fear and anxiety are like physical pain, then their natural purpose must be to call your attention to the deeper emotional and mental wounds that cause them, said anxiety expert Dr. Friedemann Schaub, Ph.D.
What Health Anxiety Ocd Makes You Feel Responsible For
Here are some ways OCD uses the fear of being irresponsible to keep you stuck in health anxiety.
Responsibility for seeking a diagnosis
- What if I am ill but no one can figure it out because there isnt a name for it?
- What if this doctor read the results of the tests wrong?
- How do I know that I am not developing an illness that has not been detected?
- What if my failure to find an answer leads to endless suffering due to my awareness of symptoms
Responsibility for being vigilant about monitoring symptoms
- What if this sensation or symptom is a sign of cancer or a chronic illness?
- If I dont check for signs of illness it could end up being my fault for not checking.
Responsibility for avoiding the potential of contracting an illness
- What if I should not have allowed myself to be around someone who appeared ill?
- What if I have not paid close enough attention to something that could have gotten me ill?
Responsibility for inadvertently causing harm
- What if I have an undetected illness and get someone else sick?
- What if I am currently sick or get sick due to my own lack of vigilance?
Responsibility for reporting symptoms and sensations
- What if I fail to describe my symptoms accurately which results in the wrong diagnosis?
- What if I fail to recognize changes in my symptoms?
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The daily hectic routine will generate a feeling of despair. It will make you imagine that you are caught in a rat race. It is not easy to escape from all such situations. You are desperately running behind many things in your life. All the materialistic possessions act as a bait for you. But, they can never provide you the pleasure. All such situations will create the feeling that you are trapped in a hamster cage feeding yourself like anything. The greed for money can almost convert you into a mechanical kind of human. If you find such kind of situations happening with you, then try to avoid it by any chance, because it will develop the feeling of anxiety inside you. Try to plan a trip with your friends and family. It is important to give some time to oneself and close ones in our life. Finding time for oneself will generate a sense of joy and happiness in the life. So, start socializing and try to live a meaningful life by giving importance to yourself. It is the best way to get rid of anxiety.
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Check If You Have Health Anxiety
You may have health anxiety if you:
- constantly worry about your health
- frequently check your body for signs of illness, such as lumps, tingling or pain
- are always asking people for reassurance that you’re not ill
- worry that a doctor or medical tests may have missed something
- obsessively look at health information on the internet or in the media
- avoid anything to do with serious illness, such as medical TV programmes
- act as if you were ill
Anxiety itself can cause symptoms like headaches or a racing heartbeat, and you may mistake these for signs of illness.
Illness Anxiety Disorder Can Come With Other Health Conditions
IAD isnt always accompanied by other medical conditions, but when it is, its commonly alongside obsessive-compulsive disorder because of the ruminating nature of ones thoughts and depression.
People get very down because they get stuck in the loop of not being able to master their symptoms and thinking that theyre dying of a horrible disease every day, Kirren said. It completely drains the life out of people so they withdraw into themselves.
Panic disorder is another common condition that some people with IAD share.
A smaller percentage of people with IAD will have body dysmorphic disorder, which is the obsessive focus on an imagined or minor flaw in appearance. These patients could believe they have a lump in their breast, for example, and constantly monitor it despite nothing being there.
Some people may have substance abuse disorders, but this is rare, Kirren said, because most patients are scared of losing control, so they dont take medications as theyre not sure what itll do to their body.
Then theres the fear of death, medically known as thanatophobia.
Death anxiety is not a recognized disorder in the DSM, but psychologists say many IAD patients core fear is death itself. For others, its suffering.
What theyre doing with this worry is theyre trying to get rid of uncertainty, Cassiday said. Because they cant tolerate it, they want to handle that with a better safe than sorry strategy by just focusing on the worst outcome.
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Challenge Your Worrying Thoughts
Thoughts are not facts. They are just thoughts and they dont have to be true or based in reality. However, when we ruminate, we begin to believe our thoughts reflect reality. For example, people with health anxiety may often worry about their heart.
They may think their chest or their heartbeat feels off, leading them to think, Theres something wrong with my heart. This can turn into, I have a serious heart condition. Eventually, they may even think, I have a heart condition and Im going to die. The problem here is not that they are seriously ill, the problem is that they think theyre seriously ill.
When we ruminate, our thoughts can represent our perceived reality. In other words, we accept our thoughts as facts. Instead, we need to adopt a practice known as cognitive defusion.
Cognitive defusion teaches us to identify and challenge our negative thoughts. Once a thought like, Theres something wrong with my heart has been identified, you can challenge and reframe it. For example, thinking instead Im only telling myself that there is something wrong with my heart. This process of identifying and challenging takes practice. It helps to work closely with a licensed therapist or psychiatrist to develop coping techniques.
The Types Of Anxiety You Should Get Rid Of/reduce
Once anxiety becomes intense to the point of making you suffer and inhibiting the fullness of your life, its no longer useful. Here are some examples of what this type of anxiety can do to you:
- Constantly feeling restless or on edge despite there being no apparent cause
- Becoming lost in a rabbit hole of worry
- Sleep problems
- Panic attacks
- Social isolation
Rather than focusing on rational issues such as childcare and deadlines, these types of anxieties often cause people to ruminate on a series of irrational fears, including:
- Fear of imminent death or bodily harm
- Sudden fear of embarrassment or illness
- Worries about everything in your life being wrong
- Constantly imagining worst-case scenario situations, asking a chain of What if ? questions
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Whos Most Likely To Develop Illness Anxiety Disorder
Unlike other health conditions, IAD doesnt have unique risk factors, such as race, sex, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, that make a person more likely to develop the disorder.
Anxiety disorders in general have been on the rise in young adults. One 2020 study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that reports of anxiety increased from about 8% in 2008 to about 15% in 2018 among people ages 1825.
IAD diagnoses specifically tend to peak around the late teen years into the early 20s, Cassiday said.
Children have their fair share of health anxiety too. Cassiday said shes had a patient in kindergarten who was afraid they were going to have a heart attack, and a second-grader who believed they were going to develop a brain tumor and die.
Its particularly common among children with sick loved ones because they dont understand why or how people come down with different illnesses, according to Gallagher, who said COVID has been adding to the confusion.
She said one of her pediatric patients asked if they were going to die because they sometimes bite their nails and pick their nose the childs parents specifically told not them not to do that because of the risk of coronavirus infection.
Kids can have fears just like the rest of us, and a lot of times theres more unknown as a child, Gallagher said. Things can feel overwhelming or concerning.
Shift Questions From What If To What Could
Our power to combat anxiety comes from a refocus on our agency, our Self, and our ability to make changes in the now, Oliver Drakeford, a licensed marriage and family therapist in West Hollywood, CA, tells TZR in an email. What could questions might help with this reclaiming of our calmness. In the case of anxiety due to a job interview, instead of thinking: What if they ask me really hard questions? you can shift your focus to yourself: What could I do right now to make me feel more confident in the interview? Keeping track of whether your thoughts are focused on Self or someone/something else, Other, is going to really help shift your feelings of anxiety, he explains. If your thoughts are consistently focused on the Other, your anxiety increases because you ask a lot of What if questions that lead your thinking into fear and unknown.
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Not All Health Worries Indicate Health Anxiety
Being concerned about your health is not the same as health anxiety. It’s normal to be worried about your health from time to time. You may wonder if your stomachache is a sign of a more serious condition. If you have had a severe illness in the past, you may be anxious about an upcoming imaging scan.
“There is a difference at least medically speaking between a person who has no symptoms or minimal symptoms and is frequently worried and anxious about being or getting sick and a person who is worried about concerning symptoms,” says Dr. Scarella. However, he notes that anxiety about real health conditions can also become problematic.
People with health anxiety often misinterpret normal or benign physical symptoms and attribute them to something more serious. For example, if they were to compress an arm while asleep, instead of rolling over and shaking off the numb feeling, they might worry they were having a stroke. Symptoms produced by anxiety which can include muscle pain, chest pain, heart rate changes, headaches, and dizziness, among others can heighten existing anxiety about one’s health.
Understanding Health Anxiety Ocd
Regardless of whether we call it Health Anxiety OCD, Hypochondriasis, Illness Anxiety Disorder, or Somatic Symptom Disorder, this content area is often misunderstood both in the medical profession and the mental health field. Some of the confusion arises from failing to understand that the diagnosis refers to a person that is chronically anxious about their health, not about whether they are actually sick or not. The fact is, one can be sick and have Health Anxiety OCD.
As with all content areas of OCD, the real problem is not the content of the obsession, but the process of how you relate to and respond to it. Specifically, the problem is believing that you have to do compulsions in the effort to obtain certainty your fear is untrue. These failed efforts to be certain about ones health ultimately lead to feeling less certain and more afraid. This being said, the content of all OCD sufferers obsessive thoughts always feels and seems important, and this sense of urgency about it distracts from recognizing the process problem. Living with Health Anxiety OCD can feel like you are living on borrowed time, which makes it nearly impossible to enjoy anything. Instead you feel driven to escape what could be a potential death sentence or avert some other tragic misfortune. Whats worse, it feels like you alone are responsible for carrying out this mission.
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Aromatherapy And Essential Oils
Essential oils, the extract from plants, have been used for thousands of years to treat a number of conditions, including anxiety. Essential oils activate certain areas of your brain and release feel-good chemicals such as serotonin. They have been found to ease symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression, improve mood, and improve sleep.
Recommended use includes diffusing, inhalation, or topical treatment which can aid with anxiety symptoms. When diffusing an essential oil or essential oil blend you will need an essential oil diffuser to fill your space with the desired scent. Inhalation is used by deeply smelling the essential oil straight from the bottle or by applying a drop or two of the oil on something such as a diffuser pad or lava bead that is connected to a bracelet, necklace, or even keychain. You can also place a drop or two of essential oil into your hands, rub them together, then cup your hands and take a few deep inhalations to get the desired effect.
You should be sure that the essential oils you use are pure oils and not mixed with chemicals. Some good brands to use include: Mountain Rose Herbs, Plant Therapy, Young Living, Doterra. You can do your own research to find a brand that will best work for you and your budget. Remember that a bottle of essential oil will last a long time since you typically use only a few drops at a time.
Essential oils that are great for treating anxiety include:
How To Get Rid Of Anxiety
Anxiety problems may make even the most mundane tasks uncomfortable. Symptoms make it difficult to maintain relationships and employment, as well as to enjoy hobbies and pastimes. When dealing with unpleasant situations or individuals, everyone experiences stress-related sentiments and physical symptoms.
Individuals suffering from anxiety may believe that their only alternative is to avoid stressful events if they do not receive treatment. Evidence-based psychotherapy focusing on cognitive behavioural therapy and luxury residential treatment are effective techniques for treating anxiety in both groups and individuals.
Theres a lot more to learn about how to get rid of anxiety, all of which is covered in the sections below.
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Nutritional Strategies To Ease Anxiety
- By Uma Naidoo, MD, Contributor
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Thats 40 million adults18% of the populationwho struggle with anxiety. Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand, with about half of those with depression also experiencing anxiety.
Specific therapies and medications can help relieve the burden of anxiety, yet only about a third of people suffering from this condition seek treatment. In my practice, part of what I discuss when explaining treatment options is the important role of diet in helping to manage anxiety.
In addition to healthy guidelines such as eating a balanced diet, drinking enough water to stay hydrated, and limiting or avoiding alcohol and caffeine, there are many other dietary considerations that can help relieve anxiety. For example, complex carbohydrates are metabolized more slowly and therefore help maintain a more even blood sugar level, which creates a calmer feeling.
A diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits is a healthier option than eating a lot of simple carbohydrates found in processed foods. When you eat is also important. Dont skip meals. Doing so may result in drops in blood sugar that cause you to feel jittery, which may worsen underlying anxiety.
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Relaxation Techniques And Mindfulness
The practice of mindfulness involves deliberately focusing our attention on our thoughts, our surroundings, and our actions. Despite having its roots in meditation, the discipline has found increasing utility in therapy.
In reality, studies have demonstrated that people with health anxiety benefit greatly from the practice of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy .
One great exercise for mindfulness is the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise. Look around your current surroundings and identify:
- Five things you can see
- Four things you can touch
- Three things you can hear
- Two things you can smell
- One thing you can taste
We hold a variety of group therapy sessions which explore mindfulness as a therapy for health anxiety.
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Finding Treatment For Health Anxiety
Like other anxiety disorders, health anxiety can become debilitating. When your health worries begin to interfere with your life, its time to seek help from a mental health professional.
At High Focus Centers, we understand that every patients needs are different. Our team of mental health experts uses evidence-based treatment strategies, like mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and cognitive defusion techniques, to help create a custom program to meet your needs. Additionally, our teletherapy services allow you to receive counseling and therapy from the comfort of your own home.
If you or a family member is struggling with health anxiety, reach out to our team today. Were here to help you on your path to recovery.