Illness Anxiety (or “Health Anxiety”)

People with illness anxiety worry excessively about potentially having or developing a serious medical condition.

People with illness anxiety worry about their health on a daily or near-daily basis.  Although most people worry about their health some of the time, people with health anxiety worry excessively about having or developing a serious medical condition. They may ask for reassurance from doctors about their symptoms, but find that reassurance only provides temporary relief from their health worries. Or, they may have no physical symptoms at all, and simply worry about the potential of developing signs of serious illness. 

People with illness anxiety may interpret normal, harmless physical sensations as signs that there is something seriously medically wrong with them.  They are often engaging in behaviors designed to give them a sense of control over their health.  Some individuals seek reassurance, such as seeing doctors excessively, excessively researching medical symptoms on the Internet, asking for reassurance from friends or family members, or checking their body for signs of illness.  Others with illness anxiety will prefer to avoid health cues excessively, and may do things like avoid seeing doctors or checking their health for fear that they will get bad news or discover signs of illness.  These behaviors can be distressing or time-consuming.

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