Health Anxiety/Hypochondriasis

What is Health Anxiety/Hypochondriasis?


Health anxiety, sometimes known as Hypochondriasis is when we experience worry about our health. We may believe that bodily sensations/symptoms are a sign of something more serious, potentially life threatening e.g. a mole being cancer or headaches being a brain tumour. We may distrust health professionals or question their diagnosis. 


When we experience health anxiety, we find it challenging to sit with the uncertainty about the diagnosis and therefore we may engage in the following certainty seeking behaviours:

  • Reassurance seeking (google, friends and family, GP)
  • Making lifestyle changes e.g. diet
  • Increased GP visits (or we be the opposite avoiding GP/medical appointments)
  • Checking for signs of illness
  • Avoid things that feature serious illness e.g. tv programmes

Impact on Functioning


As with all mental health conditions, for some people the condition impacts many areas of their lives and this is evident, this is something we can see, for example the impact can be on our:

  • Relationships
  • Routine daily activities
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Work/education
  • Social life

However, for some people we cannot evidently see their difficulties, they may be attending work, engaging socially, continuing their usual activities. In clinic we use a metaphor of a duck swimming on a pond. We can seem to be moving without effort, gliding through life, just like the duck on the water. However, while we may appear fine on appearance, we can be paddling very hard underwater, struggling where people cannot see. No matter the visible impact upon your daily functioning, we are here to support you to overcome the current difficulties you are experiencing.


Treatment Options for Health Anxiety

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Eye Movement and Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy


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