Health Anxiety

People’s lives can sometimes be blighted by fear of medical illness.  They might have suffered a condition in the past and fear it’s recurrence (e.g. cancer) or they may simply have developed a fear that it might happen in the future.  Sometimes this is based on a parent or grandparent who had died of a medical condition.  The fear may not be of one specific illness but might ‘migrate’, depending on what physical part of the body feels unwell – one week their headache is a ‘brain tumour’, and the next tightness in the chest is an ‘impending heart attack’.  At one level they realise this is unreasonable, but can’t stop this focus on their symptoms.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) aimed at correct understanding of bodily sensations and practical exercises to reduce the fear of illness can be very helpful.  A course of therapy may take 8-15 sessions.