Health Anxiety!! How can I get past this???

netshoundOctober 29, 2006

Hi All. I'm a little embarrased to even admit this to anyone but I'm at my ends wit! I suffer from Health Anxiety. Every little thing I find thats unusual is Cancer of some kind or something deadly. It consumes me. I can't think of anything else. Anytime I have been scared enough to have it checked out, it always turns out to be nothing. The hard part for me is...I'm afraid whatever it is is deadly but I'm also afraid to find out! I hate doctors or even going to a doctors office. When my child has to go for a Well-Child visit, I get so nervous my husband has to come with me. How can I get past this and be able to tell myself when I find something that it's nothing to worry about? Has anyone else gone thru this or is going thru this? I want to be happy in my life but these thoughts are always there.

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Hi netshound,

May I ask how old you are? Have you been this way your entire life? Are you on any medications for anything?
Does it get worse in the fall and winter?
I think that these concerns are just a variation on general anxiety. We all have different "places" to put our general anxiety, and for some reason, you choose health issues. Please tell us more about your situation.

My husband, several years ago, seemed fine (although he never really dealt with emotional issues that came up). One summer morning, when he was out picking green beans in the garden for me, he thought he was having a heart attack. We called an ambulance. He wasn't having a heart attack, he was having a panic attack. And from that day on, he became obsessed with thinking he had a fatal illness. I, too, have a similar problem, but his became quite disabling for him.
Of course, psychological counselling is very important.....but he seemed to need medication to keep this under control. He's on Lexapro, which helped alot.
I think some of us have neurochemical imbalances that make us extremely anxious. But we all seem to have different ways of expressing that anxiety, and the health thing seems to be yours.
How's your life going for you right now? How are your eating habits, exercise, etc.?

    Bookmark   October 29, 2006 at 10:42AM
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I'm 37 years old. My husband, althought he gets frustrated with this, is very helpful to me. I've kind of had this health thing "brewing" since I was very young. Anytime cancer has hit my family it has always been deadly. My Grandmother died of it when I was about 15 or so and I think about that disease all the time. I'm not sure if it stems from that or not. I did go thru panick attacks about 8 years ago and thought for sure it was a heart problem. My doctor put me on valium but I did'nt want to take a pill so I tried mentally working thru it by breathing and reading books about panick attacks. Sometimes to this day, I feel like I'm on the verge of having them from time to time but I do my best to talk myself out of them!! My life right now is great. My daughter and husband are wonderful. We don't have a very busy life, we kind of keep to ourselves. We are kind of home-bodies I guess. My eating habits I'm sure are not the greatest. I LOVE starchy foods!! I try to excercise but I just don't have the motivation. I'm very aware of my body and it seems like when I find something I've never noticed before or seems like it could be something else...I lose all motivation to do anything! I HATE that I'm like this but am scared to take the step to talk to a doctor or someone about it. Are there any DVD's I can watch or books to read? I see other people just take things in stride and be happy with thier lives and I always feel like I'm waiting do get some horrible life-threatening disease! I don't want to die, I want to live a long time! What do I do about this?? How do I take care of this problem when I'm so afraid of doctors and finding out IF something is wrong?

    Bookmark   October 29, 2006 at 11:03AM
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You mentioned that a doctor once put you on Valium, but you didn't take it. Medications like Valium make it easier for you to get control of your problems. Refusing to take them just makes the situation worse. With a little of the edge taken off the anxiety, you may be able to control the rest of it by yourself. You wouldn't refuse to use crutches if you had a broken leg, would you?? If you had a bad sunburn, you would use something to ease the pain, wouldn't you? If you were diabetic, you wouldn't be foolish enough to try to work around taking insulin. Taking Valium or something similar is exactly the same thing.

The first thing Monday morning, call and make an appointment with your doctor. Whether or not you tell him all your problems is not important at this time. Just take the first step and make the appointment.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2006 at 12:13PM
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As usual, Angespuffin has great advice.
I'm alot like you netshound. I'm very sensitive to meds, and don't like to take them, for fear of side-effects being worse than the help they might give.
During perimenopause, when I went would actually help to have some tests run, to tell me nothing was wrong. Those tests would help for a year or 2, then I'd need them run again. I'm doing much better now...except when my hormones go a little crazy, and I become crazy again.
My husband was helped immensely with Lexapro. Anges is right. If you can't get a hold on the anxiety, you won't be able to help yourself. Allow yourself to be helped.
I think I thought I was dying so many times, I finally realized that I wasn't. Here's something you can do when you think you have cancer, a tumor, etc. First of all, horrible diseases don't usually allow you to keep looking normal. If you're not losing tons of weight, or totally losing your appetite, or having unrelenting pain, or becoming an invalid, or losing all your hair, or looking ashen all the're probably okay.
I hope you don't think I'm making fun. This is actually what helped me through thinking I had a terminal diseases. I was still hungry, overweight, and I could still take walks, do normal things, etc. So when you think you have a fatal disease, try to walk yourself through a similar checklist.
Unfortunately, panic and anxiety many times don't allow us to be rational. That's where the medication might help you.
I think you need to bite the bullet, and go see the doctor. Have your husband go with you.
And I wouldn't let the doc just dismiss you without some labwork. A chemistry profile, CBC, thyroid, etc., go a long way towards reflecting good health.
Hang in there netshound!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2006 at 10:37AM
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netshound, Did you make an appointment with your doctor? If you can't do it yourself, ask your husband to make one for you.

You simply must be willing to take that first step. Get a good physical check up. No one can do anything to help if you won't try to help yourself.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2006 at 7:26AM
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Netshound----You are not alone, I also suffer from this type of anxiety. I constantly worry about getting breast cancer, I have had so many friends with it. When I go for my yearly check up, I totally convince myself that he is going to find something. My doctor put me on "Clonazepam" .5mg, I find this drug really helps me. Apparently it is of the family of the drug "Valium", I don't like taking drugs but sometimes you just have to.

Let us know how you are doing.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2006 at 8:29PM
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I went to the doctor! I told her about my anxiety trouble I've been having. I also told her that I did'nt want to jump to an anti-depressant just yet and asked her advice about taking something else to try first. She suggested Calms Forte'. Anyone heard of that? Is it any good? She said sometimes when things are going good for people, there are some of us who are sort of waiting for the ball to drop. I'm like that. I always see the negative in everything and when something is good, I just wait for the bad to happen. I've always been the type that does'nt think about the thousands of people that get cured, only the one that does not! I hate that about myself. I've got to try and stop the negative thoughts and be more positive! The doctor said..the ball does'nt always have to drop. I figured maybe I would give that stuff she suggested a try. She said also B Complex will help my energy levels. I hope this works because I'm getting sick and tired of being afraid of EVERYTHING!!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 7:04PM
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There's no "maybe" about what you should do. Do what she suggests.
As long as you have a wishy-washy attitude about trying, you are setting yourself up for failure. Tell yourself that you WILL, not MIGHT, do as she says.

when you were a little child, and your mother told you to do something that she thought you should do, did you say, "well, I might do that?" Of course not. You trusted her. It's time to trust your doctor. If in a few weeks you don't see an improvement, go back to her. She will advise you as to what else to try.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 7:12AM
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I have been dealing with this for over two years now. I've gone from doctor to doctor, convinced that something was seriously wrong....but my tests were always normal. I saw a new doctor recently (ever seen "House"?...this guy was VERY direct) and he prescribed Lexapro and Xanax. I have always been pill-shy, but I've been taking them (Xanax only at night to sleep unless I feel on the verge of a panic attack)and I can't overstate how much better I feel. Lexapro is for depression and generalized anxiety. I'm not up to full speed on it yet, but after only two weeks I am much calmer and my outlook is less negative.

The thing is that stress and anxiety can MAKE you sick. They weaken your immune system and make your life miserable. I didn't want to live that way anymore and now I'm doing something about it.

I'm glad you went to see your doctor. I really think you might want to reconsider the antidepressant route. Some of us just need it.

Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 12:59PM
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You need to see a psychiatrist NOT a DR. You had very real and HORRIBLE experiences as a child that are still affecting your life. If you see one psychiatrist and they don't seem to help you, try another one. Maybe your GP could give you a referral for some one who deals with anxiety disorders. I don't think that just taking medicine Valium especially, will help you unless you also really deal with the trauma that you experienced.

What you have sounds like a post traumatic stress disorder to me. You have had a very bad experience early in life with the cancer in your family and you are reacting to that. You need to learn how to be proactive and not reactive, does this make any sense?

If you were a person who did not have your history and everyone in the family was fine THEN you'd be a hypochondriac, but your reacting to very emotional events in your life. Until you get help learning to deal with these nothing will change.
While self help books etc, may be a good tool they are not a substitute when you really need professional help.
I hate that there is stigma on psychiatric care, we have Dr's for every other part of our body why not our mind?

    Bookmark   November 12, 2006 at 6:24PM
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Hi Everyone
I do not have health anxiety but my daughter who is 39 has it. She has a different cancer every few months. If someone mentions a person with a particular cancer then she starts thinking about it and then she has it. Anxiety takes so many forms. I have it also but it takes a different form with me. I have guilt and regret anxiety. Does anyone know what I am talking about? Anyone experience this? It starts with depression and then the anxiety comes.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 5:25PM
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Hi everyone,

I'm 27 and i have been suffering from anxiety/panic attacks on and off for a few years. What stresses me is that i keep it quiet from my family as i don't think they would understand. However my partner knows and he's as supportive as he can. Right now i'm having the worst anxiety symptoms i've ever had. I don't even know what i'm worried about anymore. I feel like i'm going insane! I started some tablets called citalopram at the beginning of the week and right now they are not helping at all. I've been given some valium too but i don't really want to take them, as it makes me more aware that i've got a problem, which stresses me even more. I have lost my appetite and i constantly want to vomit so anxious i am. Anybody experiencing the same sort of symptoms?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 1:16PM
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Was it an MD you went to? If so, lucky you that she'll do what she does. The b vitamins help the adrenal glands, especially b5 as well as vit. c. The Calms Forte should help some, if not a lot and it's nothing like a drug.
A good diet is important to fending off disease, but not a guarantee. Eat plenty of the colorful fruits and vegies, buy organic if you can.
Yoga and Tai Chi are good for relaxing and relieving stress. The breathing part of those exercises is part of what relaxes you. Or just walking and focusing on your breathing.
Maybe you do need to talk to someone about your childhood experience too, as was mentioned. It might just take the combination of things. Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 2, 2006 at 9:23PM
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As an earlier poster said, if you had diabetes, would you not take insulin? If you had asthma, would you not treat that? There is such a stigma about having to "take a pill". Why are you suffering? If this was your child, would you maker her suffer because you didn't want her to have to "take a pill"?

You won't get any hero badges by trying to tough it out. You've waited long enough. Life isn't supposed to be filled with constant thoughts of worst case scenarios. Yes, there are negative people in this world, but what you are going through doesn't sound like it will be resolved by thinking positively and changing your attitude. Depression and anxiety are real. AND, they are treatable. If medication could help you why are you hesitant to try it?

I take Cymbalta. Why? Because I get depressed without it. I have no idea why. I have a great life, but suddenly I start having irrational regrets and guilt about ridiculous things. I feel totally normal with Cymbalta. My family is happier too. Think about how this affects your huband and daughter.

Best wishes to you. I hope whatever you do, that you feel better and live a happy and healthy life.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2006 at 11:32PM
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I had a mammogram they thought they found something but they were wrong. Then about 6 months later I had pain in my breast and found what I think is a cyst, I am scared to death to have it checked out.I have been living with this for about a year and a half and still feel healthy other then the panic of thinking I have cancer every day. The cyst has not gotten bigger and I have no other symptoms, I never thought I would be such a coward. I cant even think about going to a doctor I am so scared. I want to just move on and forget about it but I cant quit thinking about cancer. I hate what it is doing to me.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 10:40PM
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Hi this sounds so familiar to also at my wits end! I have paralyzing fear of doctors for years I have been convinced I have HIV. The fear will go away and im fine but then it comes back and this time it came back with a vengeance. So my mother and dragged me by my hair to the doctor for a physical blood work and all. The day of the results my brother had to physically drag me into the doctors office . They called both my parents in and my brother was in the waiting room ready in case I bolted. The doctor said all my blood work was normal but to lay off meat and eggs because I had a little to much protein. I was "ok" for about a day, but I wondered why he didn't order the HIV test. My mother swore that he said to everything was fine and it wasn't needs unless I really wanted it. I didn't hear any of that! I still wasn't convinced but now I was terrified to go get a test . I was put on Prozac by the doctor who said my mental state was no normal, I almost had to be sedated that day. It was bad, I still was flipping out.. So I was referred to a psychologist. I went she told me I was not dealing with my real issues and it was coming out in anxeixty , particularly health and that she was a cancer nurse for 16 years and that if I had HIV or cancer my my blood work would have shown something and the doctor would have orders additional test. But I don't buy any of that. I googled too much protein and it said a possible cause is HIV or cancer. How could the doctor miss that and it took me 5 secs to google it ? Now I'm even more convinced or he's incompetent im going crazy my parents and every one says I'm crazy but am I really that crazy? I told my ex he got tested and he's fine.. But that means nothing according to the research I've done. I'm so terrified to get a test. So I'm just in hell. This all started about a moth ago when I thought I had a sinus infection because of allergies.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 10:54PM
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