Hypochrondriac or health anxiety?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2008
Total Posts : 285
   Posted 9/9/2008 11:22 AM (GMT -6)   
I'm trying to figure out if I am a hypochondriac or just have health anxieties. I guess it doesn't really matter...it all comes down to the same thing...stress about my health.
I've always worried too much about my health. I was always convinced I had some rare disease or, of course, cancer. I remember being maybe 12 or 13 and convinced I had leukemia.
Other times I am really calm about stuff. I had severe migraines but I never thought I had a brain tumor. I knew they were migraines.
I read on the Mayo Clinic site about the symptoms of being a hypochondriac. I have many of them. I don't "doctor shop" however, or go in for unnecessary tests. If a doctor tells me I am okay, I go with that. But I do worry excessively about new symptoms that come up. And at my age (49), a lot of things are falling apart.
Last year was my worst health year ever. I had a very serious depression, followed by a stricture in my esophagus, followed by a melanoma. I also had a painful frozen shoulder and a dumb condition called "burning mouth syndrome". My latest problem has been urinary tract infections and overactive bladder problems. Now I believe all of these problems were real...I wasn't making them up or anything...but it seems like all I do is complain about and deal with my health. I KNOW that half of my symptoms and problems are made much worse by stress and anxiety. For example, I do have GERD, but if you took the anxiety out, it'd be a ton better.
I'd love to be free of some of this anxiety and worry. I mean, I have to realistic. I am 49. I am going to have some health problems. Some day (gasp!) I will even die...although I hope that is far in the future. But what's the point of living your life with all this stress and worry? Shouldn't you enjoy life while you're here?
I am working through a book called "The Cognitive Behavorial Workbook for Depression" by William Knaus with an online group but we are only on Chapter 2. Maybe it will help...although it's not specifically for anxieties.
Thanks for reading...this is such a good place to vent.

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 280
   Posted 9/9/2008 11:40 AM (GMT -6)   

Hello kindred spirit! I certainly can understand how you feel.

In fact, I have to go to the doctor this month to get my blood pressure meds refilled and I just freak when I have to go. I worry waaaaay too much.

God bless.

Adopt a retired racing greyhound

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 9/9/2008 5:39 PM (GMT -6)   


Hey there hun, sorry to hear you are still having issues. Hypochondria and health anxiety are one and the same.  The patients prefer the term  Health Anxiety to describe thier issues.

"It's OK 
Your not sick"

"Just don't worry about it"

"There is nothing wrong with you"

How many times did people say these things to you?  Yet you couldn't believe you were well. Health Anxiety is very real.  I am glad to read you are doing the CBT book.  That is a wonderful book and many people swear by their work with CBT.
You can come here all you want to vent and we are here to support you.
Take care



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Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 2721
   Posted 9/10/2008 12:28 AM (GMT -6)   

This really is a contentious issue. I think Hypochondria can be used as a means of manipulating others into sympathy.

Health anxiety is just being really worried about your health (and have many symptoms that could be stressful and valid). You do not, in any way stray over into manipulation so I wiould not classify you as hypochondriac at all.

This is just my 2 cents worth!!



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Weekend Warrior Princess

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2008
Total Posts : 285
   Posted 9/10/2008 12:43 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for all the support guys. I am doing much better today.
One thing we are learning to do in the CBT book is to flash a red STOP sign in our heads when we start worrying about our health or whatever it is that is bothering us. I started doing that this morning and that has helped as I started laughing at the big red stop sign jumping into my head.
I don't think I try to manipulate anyone with my illnesses although I do think I have a bad habit of exaggerating illnesses to get out of things when I am actually paralyzed with depression. But it is much easier to tell someone you have a migraine and can't make the PTA meeting than that you are too depressed to go.
Thanks again for the support.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 2721
   Posted 9/10/2008 7:39 PM (GMT -6)   

Oh I love the idea of a stop sign! That is such a great tool. I use this one when anxiety comes to visit: I put a lampshade over it's head and laugh at it. I think distancing ourselves from destructive emotions is really important..

I don't think you manipulate at all marthamae, please don't think for one second I implied that. I have called in sick in the past with stomach flu when really I was just vomiting because of a panic attack. Sometimes it's just easier not to explain..

Keep up with that stop sign!

nono No No No!!!!!!


Co-moderator Anxiety/Panic
Panic Attack Survivor
Weekend Warrior Princess

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