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Health anxiety - stepping out of the bubble

(28 Posts)
myrtleWilson Sun 03-Jan-16 20:16:46

Hi, am hoping for good suggestions about how to manage health anxiety. This has happened in the last year as my mother died after a late cancer diagnosis and at the same time my sister was also diagnosed with cancer (she has finished treatment and all looks good). On top of that various other family members have significant health issues..

Am assuming it is the impact of mums death (and suddenness of it) which has tipped me over the edge as all the other health conditions preexisted this year and I wasn't responding how I am now.

I pretty much symptom spot on a daily basis and today alone I've self diagnosed both GI bleeding and DVT. Which the rational part of me knows sounds ridiculous...

I know (rational head) that appropriate action is trip to GP and talk about CBT options. However health anxiety head says if I so much as step over GP threshold I'll have my worse fears confirmed. So any advice as to how to big up rational head and get rid of health anxiety head - just enough to get to booking GP appointment.

I'm perfectly aware that this all sounds frankly pathetic but it's worrying how debilitating this has made me in such relatively short period of time....

Thanks for any suggestions

Le1890 Sun 03-Jan-16 20:29:56

Hi Myrtlewilson.

I am sorry to hear about you mum. Glad to hear your sister is doing well despite what she must also have been through too.

I really feel for you as I have been where you are. 4 years of my life was spent in the through a of major health anxiety. Cancer always the focus.

I bought ever book possible, attended counselling including seeing a psychologist for a while. Really what has helped me is antidepressants and finding the right dose for me. All of the other things have helped but if I am honest, when I come of the medication after a period of about 4 months I'm right back to where I started and that was hell on earth. I would constantly be I a state of panic, attending the GP several times per week and the a&e! Now I am much more rational and health anxiety does not feature in every day of my life anymore. That said if I do have a health concern my first thought is about cancer but I am able to push it to the side and function with my life where as before I would have been hysterical, not eating and not sleeping until I had, had the appointment to tell me all was ok.

So no it doesn't sound pathetic to me, just really sorry you are going through it. The fear is real and like you have said you can be rational but the 'what ifs' are what get you. I'm sorry I don't have any magic answer but would suggest all of the above. Hope his helps. Feel free to PM any time xx

Gunting Sun 03-Jan-16 20:43:46

I spent 5 years with very severe health anxiety after a period of ill health for my family just like you.

It got very very out of control and I didn't visit the doctors because I was scared of what I'd get diagnosed with, I didn't visit people in hospital, if I read the word 'cancer' or heard it on the TV I took it as I sign that I had it. It got so bad that I even used to shower and bathe in clothes because I couldn't stand looking at my body incase I saw something that set me off. I just spent lots of time sleeping to get away from my thoughts.

I tried the antidepressants and they did nothing for me. I did CBT courses online because of the fear of doctors and I'm not sure why but something I read while doing them just clicked.

I think there is a different solution for everyone. Antidepressants may work for some and therapy for others. Try things until something works. I hope you find something that helps soon as I know how life consuming health anxiety is.

Le1890 Sun 03-Jan-16 20:50:02

Hi Gunting

Can totally to nearly everything you have said too. It's certainly all consuming. Also agree that you have to try what's right for you as like anything it defo seems as though different things help people differently. Being able to talk to those who understand also really helped me.xxx

myrtleWilson Sun 03-Jan-16 20:55:12

Thanks so much to both of you for sharing your stories and advice...it is really helpful and I'm so sorry you both had such long times with health anxiety - I can't imagine how that would have taken over your lives...

mamaneedsamojito Mon 04-Jan-16 19:40:15

I have this too from time to time and am in a particularly bad spell at the moment, completely convinced I have a horrible, rare, incurable illness. How I Iong for the days before Google. I can't get an appointment with my GP for two weeks but suspect I might have to call up as an emergency case before then as I'm a bit of a wreck. I think it's time to consider ADs but I've been putting off thinking about it because we're TTC and sometimes I feel fine. I've managed all morning at work without any issue then started panicking in the afternoon. I can't go on like this though.

No advice, just wanted to handhold... For both of us.

Chocqueen99 Mon 04-Jan-16 20:08:38

I was really bad a few months ago I practically begged for AD'S I got them I belive they really helped me!
I was almost normal buy now I'm slipping back again it's isn't nice guys is it.

But I am om a low dose I can & shud av gone up in dosage buy in was scared of 1 silly side affect so I've never done it..but I'm still not as bad as I were they really did help me a lot.

Chocqueen99 Mon 04-Jan-16 20:09:58

Mam im sure you haven't got an incurable disease, I've thought I've had loads so far this year.. u name it I've had it.

mamaneedsamojito Mon 04-Jan-16 20:21:40

I'm currently self-medicating with a gin and a silly film. DH is out tonight so I'm working hard to distract myself.

Chocqueen99 Mon 04-Jan-16 20:30:40

I think ur fine to take sertraline whilst pregnant having health anxiety when pregnant I would imagine is very hard.

mamaneedsamojito Mon 04-Jan-16 20:40:42

Thanks Choc, I'll bear that in mind when I see the GP. Really appreciate your replies. Apols for hijacking the thread.

Le1890 Mon 04-Jan-16 20:40:58

For me, being pregnant heighten health anxiety. I don't know if it's hormone related for me.

I was told fluoxetine is best for pregnancy although I ended up not taking them. And then the psychiatrist I saw advised to switch to sertraline for breast feeding as it does not get through the milk. Again I ended up not taking them. Once I stopped breast feeding I started fluoxetine.

Would be worth taking advice from a specialist. Even gp's not always up to date hence why I was referred to a psychiatrist just for medication.

Different for different people and its trial and error to find what's best for you and even whether AD's help. some people find counselling works, other a combination.

Whatever, it's a bloody horrible thing to have and for people who don't suffer it to understand. You can get through it. Honestly I would have never believed I could be at a place where I feel peace again. It's taken over 5 years for me but I'm there. I know though that things can change and for me I need to stay on the medication as that's when things go downhill for me big time.

Just think it's great that we have people to talk to going through same. Although obv wouldn't wish it on anyone xx

Gunting Mon 04-Jan-16 20:44:22

I found my anxiety generally got better during pregnancy but I did have a few panic attacks. I found post pregnancy very hard though. It is just different for each person I think, you just need to know when you need help and when you can't shut off the terrible thoughts.

myrtleWilson Tue 05-Jan-16 03:12:01

No apology necessary mama a general support thread for all! Am up as was woken by noise of something crashing in the house...it's very windy here so not sure if something has smashed outside. Our cats however had slightly frozen guilty look on their faces as I leapt out of bed. Have searched round and can't see anything obvious fallen or broken but my nighttime search party has woken me up. Tomorrow has the makings of a long day....

mamaneedsamojito Tue 05-Jan-16 14:38:27

Wow, that's an early start. How are you feeling today? I think I'm going to book an 'emergency' appointment with the GP tomorrow to put my mind at rest. I'm sat in the office trying not to cry...

Chocqueen99 Tue 05-Jan-16 16:21:28

What is it you think you have got? & are there other things it could be?... It is genuinely awful isn't it im really slipping back aswell it makes life so miserable.

Chocqueen99 Tue 05-Jan-16 16:24:24

OP my mum dies suddenly nearly 3 years ago she took her own life so I do believe that has contributed to this, it's like now ANYTHING Could happen & I never know what's round the corner. But in reality we are no more likely to get these things than anything else..n most people are quite healthy.

The main thing that helped me is sertraline but of course there is many different things cbt, books some sort of counselling? ?

Dinobab Tue 05-Jan-16 16:32:09

I had this too, the only way i got over it was distraction, its hard, almost impossible sometimes. Don't try not to think about it, that makes it worse but everytime you have a thought related to health just think to yourself something like "OK that is just a thought its not real"
You sort of need to learn to accept the thoughts, and also the fact that you won't ever know 100% that nothing is wrong but that it is unlikely.
Another thing I find helps is distraction so, depending on which is more manageable either:
Acknowledge the thoughts. Do something like watch tv, wash up etc and tell yourself you will thibk back to it in 20 minutes if you still feel the need
Or
Set aside to times in the day when your 'allowed' to worry about things related to health, once in the morning at say, 10am for 15 minutes and once in the evening. So whenever you have a thought or notice a "symptom" acknowledge it and tell yourself you'll think about it more at the set time.

All easier said than done thought of course!

Niftynamechangerliveshere Fri 08-Jan-16 19:14:48

Can I lurk and get a hand hold too please?
OP How are things today? I could have written your post word for word.
thanks for us all.

Le1890 Fri 08-Jan-16 20:00:00

Hi Nifty

Here to hand hold. How is everyone?x

Niftynamechangerliveshere Fri 08-Jan-16 20:16:26

Thank you. thanks
I'm running myself a hot bath to try and stop panicking. Everyday I have some new symptom and have to google constantly.
Kindle and bath or walking the hounds is the only way to put it out of my mind.
You? Thank you again form letting me lurk.

Daisyandbabies Sat 09-Jan-16 08:51:22

I've had this for years. Tried anti depressants and CBT and they didn't work for me. It just magically disappeared when j was pregnant, I think because of all the blood tests etc so i knew I was healthy. Stayed away for a few years and now back again after some health problems after the birth of my second child. Now I'm afraid to go the doctors and have an awful phobia of of medical tests.
I stay away from Google and health anxiety forums like nomorepanic, really find they make things worse. Being unhappy in your life in general is definitely a trigger X

mamaneedsamojito Sat 09-Jan-16 16:33:18

Hi, I hope everyone is ok today. I had a good day yesterday but am really not well today. I had a blood test yesterday so am trying to stay calm while I wait for the results but I'm convinced that every ache and pain is a symptom of something. Seeing the Dr for a follow up next week.

My biggest fear is that I'll get sick and not be able to look after my son properly. Obviously DH would/does help but DS is SUCH a Mummy's boy (which I love) that he really needs me. sad

mamaneedsamojito Sat 09-Jan-16 16:33:54

I love the distraction techniques PP, thanks for sharing.

myrtleWilson Tue 19-Jan-16 22:41:54

Hi mama how are you doing today...? Apologies for my absence, relatively speaking have been ok..only a couple of diseases self diagnosed in last couple of weeks!

Hope everyone else is doing okay and thankyou for sharing

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