Health anxiety

Do you… ?

  • Experience intense anxiety and worry about your health?
  • Actively check your body for signs of illness and seek medical appointments and examinations in hope of easing your fears?
  • Read a lot about illnesses and check out your symptoms, for example in a medical encyclopaedia, in magazine articles, or on the internet or try your absolute best to avoid anything to do with your feared illness, for example on TV, radio or in magazines?

What is Health Anxiety?

Health anxiety involves intense anxiety and worry about one’s health, usually to the point that it produces significant distress or interferes with one’s day-to-day functioning. Health anxiety involves either the fear that one has a serious physical illness or the belief that one has a serious physical illness. We can often become preoccupied by our health and strive to seek reassurance from other people to reduce our fears.

How common is it?

Health anxiety is very common approximately 1 in 20 people have some type of anxiety difficulty at any one time.

What can I do about it?

NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has recommended two main treatments for Health Anxiety; these are psychological therapy (Guided Self Help and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and medication. Depending on your circumstances, you may benefit from one of these types of treatment or a combination of the two.

How to get help?

If you would like to know more about Guided Self Help or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, please contact us. Alternatively, you may wish to speak to your GP about a referral to our services

Self-help options: We offer a number of Guided Self Help interventions for managing Health Anxiety.

Acknowledgement of references

Coping with Health Anxiety. Primary Care Psychological Treatment Service. Cambridge & Peterborough Mental Health Trust (Cambridge)

Health Anxiety – a self help guide. Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust