It can be distressing to feel pain or symptoms of illness, only to be told by your doctor that there's nothing wrong with you. There are many reasons why you may feel symptoms that your physician can't find a reason for, including simple misdiagnosis. However, another possibility is that you're suffering from Illness Anxiety Disorder, which you may know as hypochondria. Take a look at a few things that you should know about this condition.
You're Not Imagining Things
People suffering from Illness Anxiety Disorder often experience ridicule or shaming, sometimes from friends or family members and sometimes, unfortunately, from their own physicians. It's a common misconception that people with this disorder are making things up for attention, exaggerating, or just imagining things. However, you know that you're feeling real pain or symptoms of illness.
It's not all in your head, and you're not imagining things. Understanding that is very important for your own sake. The symptoms that you feel are definitely real, but they're just not being caused by a physical illness. However, your own mind is a powerful thing, and it can definitely cause you to feel actual pain.
The Internet Can Make It Worse
Have you ever felt a pain or some other symptom, sat down to your computer to research that symptom, and walked away convinced that you have some very serious illness? The amount of information available on the internet is great and can be extremely helpful for patients who want to educate and advocate for their own care. However, for people with an anxiety disorder, all of that information can exacerbate things.
What happens is something like the placebo effect. As you research symptoms and read about diseases and conditions that match those symptoms, you begin to expect to feel other, related symptoms. Because you expect to feel them, you begin to feel them, even if they weren't there before. This can happen, albeit more mildly, even to people who don't have Illness Anxiety Disorder. If you do suffer from anxiety about your health, staying off search engines and medical sites can help keep your symptoms under control.
There Are Treatments
Mental health services can help you get Illness Anxiety Disorder under control. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one commonly used treatment. This is a form of psychotherapy or "talk therapy." You'll learn strategies for managing your anxieties and skills to help you change the way you respond to symptoms.
Your doctor may also recommend medication either instead of or in conjunction with psychotherapy. Antidepressants are often effective tools in helping patients with Illness Anxiety Disorder.
Illness Anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of. It's absolutely understandable to be worried about your health, and it's not your fault if your symptoms are caused by a mental disorder instead of a physical disorder. You wouldn't hesitate to seek medical treatment if your symptoms were being caused by a physical illness, and you shouldn't wait to seek treatment for Illness Anxiety if you suspect that is what's causing your symptoms. A qualified mental health professional in your area, such as Dr. Stephen Brown & Associates, can put you back on the road to feeling better.
When I first started understanding my anxiety, I realized that I wasn't capable of taking care of the issue on my own. Instead of trying to quietly navigate my condition, I decided to start working towards understanding the counseling process. I focused on finding the right counselor, and then I worked hard in therapy day in and day out. This blog is all about understanding how counseling can help, because I know how much it helped me. You never know, by talking with the right person and tackling your issues head-on, you might be able to enjoy a more fulfilling life.