Many people with health anxiety are often unable to function or enjoy life due to their fears and preoccupations. They become preoccupied with bodily functions (breathing, heartbeat), minor physical abnormalities (skin blemishes), or physical sensations (headaches, stomach aches).
Anxiety itself can cause symptoms like headaches or a racing heartbeat, and you may mistake these for signs of illness.
First, you may want to start with a simple deep breathing exercise called the 5-5-5 method. To do this, you breathe in for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and then breathe out for 5 seconds. You can continue this process until your thoughts slow down or you notice some relief.
Being preoccupied with having or getting a serious disease or health condition. Worrying that minor symptoms or body sensations mean you have a serious illness. Being easily alarmed about your health status. Finding little or no reassurance from doctor visits or negative test results.
The most common physical symptoms of anxiety include fatigue, increased heart rate, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, muscle aches, muscle weakness, headaches, digestion, discomfort and tingling sensations.
You might utilize relaxation skills, deep breathing, mindfulness practice, being in nature, or other soothing activities that ground you back in the present moment. These are tools that can help you to refocus attention when thoughts about the body are all-consuming.
Living with chronic anxiety can cause physical stress on your body, especially to your nervous, cardiovascular, digestive, immune, and respiratory systems. Everyone has anxiety from time to time, but chronic anxiety can interfere with your quality of life.
Childhood trauma, such as child abuse or neglect. Extreme stress. Health anxieties or other anxiety disorders in your family. Childhood illness or serious illness in your family during childhood.
Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may help treat illness anxiety disorder. Medications to treat mood or anxiety disorders, if present, also may help.
From the time of diagnosis, an anxiety disorder can last from a few months to many years. Most people will have symptoms of an anxiety disorder for a long time before seeking professional help, sometimes up to 15 years³.
The four levels of anxiety are mild anxiety, moderate anxiety, severe anxiety, and panic level anxiety, each of which is classified by the level of distress and impairment they cause.
Follow the 3-3-3 rule.
Look around you and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body — your ankle, fingers, or arm.
The even better news: Many people respond well to anxiety treatment without medication. They find that their condition can often be managed entirely, or at least in part, with lifestyle changes and holistic therapies.
A lack of sleep, poor diet, anxiety or stress can often cause a person to feel sick. However, it could also be a sign of pregnancy or chronic illness. When sick, a person may experience stomach discomfort and vomiting. The medical term for this is nausea.
Heart palpitations and rapid breathing patterns are commonly experienced during a bout of anxiety. The persistent rush of stress response hormones at persistent, high levels of anxiety may cause high blood pressure and coronary problems such as heart disease or heart attack.
The difference is that, when extra heartbeats in the upper and lower chambers are the cause of abnormal rhythm, symptoms may feel like an initial skip or hard thumping beat followed by a racing heart. When anxiety is the trigger, heart rate typically increases steadily rather than suddenly.
A little anxiety is fine, but long-term anxiety may cause more serious health problems, such as high blood pressure (hypertension). You may also be more likely to develop infections. If you're feeling anxious all the time, or it's affecting your day-to-day life, you may have an anxiety disorder or a panic disorder.
Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. But anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available.
Morning anxiety has a biological cause: Cortisol, often called the “stress hormone,” is higher during the first hour after waking for people experiencing stress. Sometimes people feel a measure of control when they worry, so they have trouble stopping the cycle.
An anxiety emergency or extreme panic attack may require an ER visit if the sufferer is unable to get it under control. Extreme cases of hyperventilation can lead to tachycardia, an occurrence where the heart is beating so fast that it is unable to properly pump blood throughout the body.
Symptoms of severe anxiety are frequent and persistent and may include increased heart rate, feelings of panic and social withdrawal. These symptoms can result in loss of work and increased health care costs.