Can you identify with any of the symptoms in this picture?
This chart is a list of “real symptoms. The symptoms are real but can be caused by health anxiety. This picture lists the symptoms that CAN be caused by anxiety alone without an underlying medical problem. You may experience just one or two… but you may also experience several of them. Anxiety related symptoms can attack any and every – body system.
We have discussed previously that if you are having symptoms it is best to get a complete physical. You may discover an issue you can address. In people with health, anxiety tests will keep coming back negative. In this case, you should move on with your life and consider the possibility that some symptoms may the result of anxiety and not a medical condition.
Perhaps it’s anxiety. So how do you know if these symptoms are serious? You go to the doctor… and then to a therapist.
People say “ but I am not making my symptoms up! People think I am crazy!” Anxiety produces REAL SYMPTOMS. No, you are NOT crazy, but the source of symptoms may not be “medically” based. After a negative test, you need to learn how to move on. People who suffer from health anxiety become desperate at finding a medical answer. With no answers found other symptoms may start appearing. Speculation sneaks in and suddenly you believe you have some disease process that you have read about or that you have heard a friend mention. When you worry more your anxiety raises and it becomes difficult to get through a day or even an hour without thinking about your health.
You may be one of those people that do not believe test results no matter how often they are repeated. This is commonly seen in those with health related anxiety disorder.
When this happens, even more symptoms may manifest, and a sense of doom may start to creep in. It is important to determine that there is no underlying medical cause for your symptoms. If a physician, or physician after physician keeps getting negative tests, but the problem persists it may benefit to get a therapist as well.
Even if in the future an underlying medical condition is determined – COULD BE THE CAUSE… BY THAT TIME MUCH OF LIFE MAY HAVE PASSED YOU BY while you sit at the side lines consumed with worry, suffering from a variety of symptoms. Cognitive Behavior therapy can work well for those with Health Anxiety or those who may still be searching for answers. You will need to find out what works for you.
For those with multiple symptoms think of how they morphed. Often one started but no cause was found, tests were negative. Another symptom would then declare itself and so on. People can become desperate at seeking a solution. It is easy for people with Health Anxiety to become overwhelmed. They become bound and determined to find a medical cause! They often do not seek to find out if possibly any of their symptoms are anxiety-related, because they believe that real symptoms must have a medical cause. They are often well-adjusted individuals and they do not want to succumb to having a label of a mental health issue.
Here is a video clip by Carl Vernon / Health Anxiety Are My Symptoms Real? He does a good job explaining health anxiety.
Worry, anxiety, or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities is cause enough to seek out an answer be it a Medical, Doctor, or therapist.
If you continue to think about, dwell on, be concerned with, symptoms with no medical cause the symptoms will persist.
Below is an excerpt from a great article about HEALTH ANXIETY
Health anxiety is the misinterpretation of normal bodily sensations as dangerous. Healthy bodies produce all sorts of physical symptoms that might be uncomfortable, painful, unexpected, and otherwise unwanted — but not dangerous.
Picture a car with an alarm system. It’s useful if your car alarm goes off when a criminal is breaking in, but it’s problematic if it goes off every time someone walks by. Your car alarm would be misinterpreting innocent pedestrians as dangerous criminals.
Normal physical symptoms that often produce fear and worry include changes in visual acuity, heart rate and blood pressure, saliva levels, depth of breathing, balance, and muscle tone, to name a few. These are normal and harmless. But when a person misinterprets them as symptoms of some terrible disease, it creates undue worry. This explains why medical tests come out negative: The physical sensations are real, but they are not symptoms of a disease.
Those with underlying, non-diagnosed health anxiety often start with a single symptom. Let us say cardiac or respiratory. They may go get repeated testing in the area of primary concern. The tests may all come back negative. What then? The worry continues as do the symptoms, but other symptoms may be added to this list. Stomach problems can be experienced because increased stomach acid increase with stress. Fatigue often manifests as well. Your mind is so overactive that good sleep can evade you. Look back up at the list of what anxiety alone can cause!
What happens when you get a new symptom?
1 it may be medically based
2 with no answer to the first symptom worry increases and other symptoms may appear related to the increase stress of not finding answers
3 there may be a real underlying medical condition but one that would not cause ALL of the symptoms.
In other words, stress hormones cause more real symptoms to crop up just because you are consumed with worry over one or more of them.
Many people with health anxiety keep saying it is not all in my head I have a problem and surely the symptom is real. They are correct! It is the cause that must be determined! The cause could be medical or caused by the way you process thoughts and information. Different professionals address these.
So, you get a doctor or in many cases, you end up going to many doctors because no one seems to have the answer. They will start with the simplest of testing – a good history and lab work are usually first. They will need to exhaust the simplest of answers before they move on to further testing and specialists.
[Be aware that many diagnoses are not clear cut. Hundreds of diagnoses can cause many of the same symptoms. Doctors want to help but can only go on the testing available at the time. I have seen people treated for years to find out that they did not have the condition in the first place when a new definitive test shows up. Doctors can only go on test results and what you are telling them. If your thought process is in error your Doctor may keep trying to find medial reasons when there are none. If you have the tendency to worry be easily stresses or depressed you should seek out a Doctor who would recognize that some of the symptoms may be stress / anxiety related.
I understand that worry over real symptoms can cause anyone to want to get to the bottom. If you keep getting negative test results it may be time to look at anxiety as a possible cause. Even if you finally find some diagnosis that fits there may also be underlying anxiety that magnifies your REAL symptoms or may be responsible for some of them.
LIVING UNDER CONSTANT STRESS
Under stress, your liver produces extra blood sugar (glucose) to give you a boost of energy. If you are under chronic stress, your body may not be able to keep up with this extra glucose surge. Chronic stress may increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Your muscles tense up to protect themselves from injury when you are stressed. They tend to release again once you relax, but if you are constantly under stress, your muscles may not get the chance to relax.
Stress can make it even harder to breathe harder to sleep…(refer back to the list above)
If it gets too intense, however, you might start to feel lightheaded and nauseous. An excessive or persistent state of anxiety can have a devastating effect on your physical and mental health.
Anxiety disorders can happen at any stage of life, but they usually begin by middle age. Women are more likely to have an anxiety disorder than men, says the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Stressful life experiences may increase your risk for an anxiety disorder, too. Symptoms may begin immediately or years later. Having a serious medical condition or a substance use disorder can also lead to an anxiety disorder.
You may enjoy this article: HOW I COPE WITH HEALTH ANXIETY
A person with health anxiety must understand that many symptoms can be caused by worry and worry alone!
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