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How Can Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Help with Health Anxiety

How Can Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Help with Health Anxiety?

Health anxiety is one of the most distressing mental states that can strike without warning and can be nearly impossible to shake without help. Much has been written concerning anxiety over last several decades, though a “cure” that is guaranteed to work in all situations still eludes medical professionals. However, there are strong indicators that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has the ability to lessen, if not eliminate, anxiety issues in a large number of cases. Here are some ways you can leverage CBT to help you better manage the symptoms of unwarranted and unwanted anxiety.

Do Not Self Diagnose

One of the most interesting aspects of health anxiety is the fact that concentrating on it can worsen the symptoms. Simply looking at the symptom list and comparing it with other conditions has shown time and time again to worsen the situation by a considerable margin. Avoid “self-diagnosing” yourself at all costs and turn to professionals with the training and experience needed to make a proper judgment. The placebo effect, highly recognized with medical treatments, is a psychological quirk that plays out in this instance. By merely believing you have an illness, it is possible for your brain to simulate or worsen the symptoms!(1)

One of the key points of CBT is to identify bad habits or thoughts and intentionally replace them with thoughts or actions that better help you recover and enjoy life. By focusing on negative symptoms, you are reinforcing the condition and making it harder to obtain relief.

Seek Out the Underlying Fear and Resolve It

A major component of health anxiety is fear of some consequence. The best way to tackle this, in many circumstances, is to identify the underlying fear and resolve that before progressing. For instance, anxiety surrounding public speaking may be a result of the fear crowds. By resolving that fear, it will become vastly easier for you to handle the anxiety successfully.(2)

Turn to a mental health professional if you are having difficulty identifying the underlying fear and to determine if this is the most effective treatment available. In most cases, this is used in conjunction with other treatments for holistic solution to the underlying cause of your anxiety.

Recognise when Therapy can Help

While many aspects of CBT therapy can be done in your home, there are times when the symptoms are too severe to be tackled without help. If your symptoms negatively impact your quality of life or seem to be worsening, seek out psychotherapy treatment provided by an experienced therapist. Most treatments see good results within 12 to 16 weeks, depending on the individual.(3) Some instances in which professional assistance is required includes:

  • Any Instances of Self Harming Behaviour
  • Inability to Function in Public
  • New Symptoms Appear, for Instance Depression
  • Reduced Ability to Meet Social, Financial, or Family Obligations
  • Reliance on Alcohol or Drugs for Relief

Slowly Desensitise Yourself to Anxiety

The expression “face your fears” is one the oldest and most effective sayings in the English language. Anxiety, at its core, is fear on steroids. Much like how you handle small fears, for instance jumping into a pool or talking to a stranger, dealing with anxiety can be treated by gently forcing yourself to encounter situations that trigger it.(4) Here are some things to consider if you choose to go this route:

  • Study Relaxation /Mindfulness Skills First – These Will Help You Deal with Symptoms
  • Create a Step by Step List and Follow for Success
  • Turn to a Therapist if You Get Stuck

Never Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Health anxiety, like all mental health conditions, can have a huge impact on your lifestyle and wellbeing if it is not treated properly and promptly. It is indiscriminate about whom it attacks caring, not for the individuals: age, gender, or social position. If you are experiencing strong anxiety issues over single thing or generalized anxiety that lasts for a considerable time period, make an appointment with a therapist to identify which treatment course will best help you obtain relief. There is never any shame in reaching out for medical assistance. Anxiety is like any other illness, it is never your fault and does not reflect poorly upon yourself if you have it.

 

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Sarah Rees

Sarah is a fully accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and mental health writer delivering Modern Mental Health for you and with you in Mind. Sarah is the author of ‘The CBT Journal’ which helps you write for your wellbeing incorporating CBT techniques. For more information and to keep in touch have a look at sarahdrees.co.uk.