Beginner’s Guide To Self Help CBT For Health Anxiety
There are many people who suffer from health anxiety that are looking for a way to help themselves. This is an excellent beginner’s guide to self help CBT for health anxiety. #mentalhealth #healthanxiety #selftherapy
Last Updated on July 19, 2021 by Ellyssa

How Self Help CBT Can Help Health Anxiety And Hypochondria

Health anxiety is considered a mental disorder that causes people to be afraid of getting sick or dying, and it can cause them to avoid medical care because they are worried about what might happen if they get ill.

One way to tackle your health anxiety on your own could be self help CBT for health anxiety.

Can CBT Help With Health Anxiety?

Yes! Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help to reduce health anxiety by helping you identify and challenge negative thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors.

It’s a type of therapy that helps you to change the way you think and behave, so it can be used in many different ways depending on what your problem or issue is.

For example, if you have an eating disorder then this may include changing how much food you eat, when you eat etc.

If you are worried about having cancer then you might need to learn more about cancer and its symptoms.

Or maybe you want to stop smoking but find it difficult because of cravings.

In all these cases, cognitive behavioural therapy could be helpful. What does CBT involve? 

Beginner's Guide To Self Help CBT For Health Anxiety

Can I Do Cognitive Behavioral Therapy On My Own?

With limited results, yes. But you could feel better results if you consult a licensed mental health professional. 

The benefits of doing cognitive behavioral therapy alone include being in control of the situation, taking care of yourself, and saving time and money.

On the other hand, doing cognitive behavioral therapy with a professional can help you learn new strategies for coping with negative thoughts and behaviors and teach you skills to manage and reduce your stress.

Especially with many forms of anxiety, getting an educated and empathetic perspective on your thoughts can help you grow by getting out of your own cycle of thinking.

How Can I Get Rid Of Health Anxiety At Home ?

Don’t trust or have easy access to licensed healthcare professionals?

If you are suffering from health anxiety, you can try self help therapy techniques at home to cope with your condition.

What You Need BEFORE Tackling Your Anxiety

Before you try to get rid of health anxiety on your own, consider these points so that you can have a less stressful journey:

  • Accept that you have the condition and learn the best way to live with it. This is not easy, but if you can do this then your life will be much easier. You may need help from others in order to accept yourself as having an illness. If you are worried about what other people think or say about you because of your health problems, try talking things over with them. They might understand better than you realise.
  • Your fears get out of control and that’s okay. Try to keep calm when you feel anxious. It helps to take deep breaths and remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with you.
  • Talk to someone who listens and understands how you feel. Your doctor should know all about health anxieties and he/she can give you advice on ways to cope that suit your body the best.

3 Self-Help Techniques From People With Health Anxiety

To help relieve your health anxiety symptoms at home, try these 3 self-help techniques used by people with health anxiety:

  1. Self-Help Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT helps you understand your thoughts and behaviors associated with your illness. It also teaches you how to change these negative patterns into positive ones. The therapy focuses on changing unhealthy thinking styles like catastrophizing, overgeneralization, magnification, rumination, etc., which lead to excessive worrying. By leveraging self help CBT for health anxiety, you can learn new coping skills through practice exercises. 
  2. Mindfulness Meditation: This technique involves focusing attention on the present moment without judgment. By doing so, you will notice when you start feeling anxious and then take steps to calm yourself down. In addition, mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve mood in those who suffer from depression.
  3. Relaxation Training: Learning relaxation training allows you to control stress levels and relax muscles throughout your body. There are many different types of relaxation methods including progressive muscle relaxation , autogenic training , biofeedback, guided imagery, hypnosis, yoga, tai chi, qigong, and others. These techniques help reduce tension and increase feelings of well being.

Medication alone tends to only treat the symptoms but won’t address underlying issues. Trying these techniques at home could create deeper, longer-lasting change to your symptoms.

Beginner's Guide To Self Help CBT For Health Anxiety

How Do I Stop Obsessing Over My Health Anxiety?

You can stop obsessing over your health anxiety by gradually challenging your thoughts.

(Slowly, of course! No need to pressure yourself too much.)

Health anxiety is the constant and excessive worry you have over a perceived physical problem in your body. You probably always worry about developing or having a serious disease.

In order to stop worrying, you first have to determine why you feel compelled to worry.

Then you can identify the beliefs that are causing you to worry. Once you have identified those beliefs, you can begin to challenge them.

It is important to remember that you can’t always control everything you worry about. But you can learn to control your reaction to your worries.

It is also vital to remember that your reaction to your worries can make your anxiety better or worse.

Gradually, you’ll be able to learn about how you react to certain situations and have better control over your day-to-day interactions.

The process to stop obsessing over your health anxiety could be long – but definitely worthwhile!

Can You Recover From Health Anxiety?

Health anxiety could be overcome by talking about your feelings and taking steps to cope with your anxiety and triggers. For example…

1. Avoid the scenario where your health anxiety typically occurs.
2. Learn to identify your health anxiety symptoms so that you can prevent them from getting worse in-the-moment.
3. Remind yourself that your current worries are temporary.
4. Remind yourself that your health is in good hands.
5. Engage in physical activity, such as walking or running, to distract you from your health anxiety.
6. Engage in a physical activity that is different from what you usually do.
7. Engage in a relaxing activity, such as meditation or yoga, to calm down.
8. Try to distract yourself with music, dancing, or gaming.

Beginner's Guide To Self Help CBT For Health Anxiety

Can Your Mind Create Physical Symptoms?

Yes. It’s possible that a person’s thoughts or beliefs can create physical symptoms.

How? Well, the brain is a complex organ, and it has many different functions. One of these functions is to create our body’s sensations – that is, how we feel in response to things around us.

This process happens automatically without any conscious thought or effort on your part. It can be very helpful for you to understand this so that you are aware when something feels “off” with your body. 

You may notice that certain foods make you feel bloated, tired, anxious, etc., but if you don’t know why those feelings occur, they will continue to bother you. If you learn about what’s happening inside your body as well as outside, then you’ll have more control over your health. The following information explains some common ways that thoughts affect your body:

1) Your thoughts can trigger emotions. When you think negatively, you become angry, sad, frustrated, worried, fearful, guilty, ashamed, embarrassed, depressed, etc. These negative emotional states change your physiology . 

For example, anger could cause increased heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, muscle tension, sweating, and other changes in bodily function.

2) Negative thinking can lead to negative habits. For example, we often eat because you’re hungry, not because we want to gain weight. But if you constantly worry about gaining weight, that thought is constantly in your mind and you might overeat out of unconscious habit.

3) Thinking positively affects your mood. Positive thinking helps you cope better with stressors such as illness, injury, loss, divorce, job problems, financial difficulties, relationship issues, family conflicts, loneliness, boredom, disappointment, grief, and fear.

These negative emotional states change your physiology. A positive attitude could improve your self-esteem and confidence.

In the end, yes – your mind could create physical symptoms by worrying that a symptom is a symptom of an actual illness. This could motivate you to seek medical attention or research the symptoms online.

So, if you’re struggling with intrusive thoughts that come with health anxiety or hypochondria it could be helpful to reflect on your thoughts and challenge negative thinking.

What Triggers Health Anxiety?

8 common triggers of health anxiety include:

  1. Inspecting your body in the mirror
  2. Using a variety of health websites
  3. Worrying about the same symptom multiple times
  4. Thinking about your symptoms constantly
  5. Feeling pain in your body and assuming it is a cause for concern
  6. Going to the doctor’s office even when your symptoms are not that bad
  7. Being quick to think you’re sick
  8. Avoiding going out of the house when you have a cold
Beginner's Guide To Self Help CBT For Health Anxiety

What Health Anxiety Feels Like

Health anxiety is also called hypochondria, which means “fear of the heart.” People with this condition may worry excessively about their own health, even though there isn’t any evidence that they have a serious illness. 

According to Dr. David Burns in his book Feeling Good, health anxiety is defined as “a persistent fear of having physical symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fainting, numbness, tingling, weakness, palpitations, sweating, chills, and hot flashes”.

Health anxiety is a common problem and can be very debilitating if left untreated. In fact, it affects around 1 in 20 people at some point during their lives. This is why treating your symptoms by using self help CBT for health anxiety could be helpful.

If you have health anxiety then you may:

– worry excessively about minor illnesses

– avoid going to the doctor because of fear of what might happen

– become obsessed with symptoms such as pain, dizziness or nausea

– feel anxious even though there are no signs of illness 

-severe panic attacks

-fear of dying at any time

-anxiety about going out in public places

-panic when thinking about having an operation/surgery 

What are your thoughts on these? Do you think they apply to you, if so how do you cope with them? 

Next Steps

Health anxiety is an anxiety disorder characterized by excessive fear or worry about having a serious illness or health problem.

In fact, it’s classified as an anxiety disorder because it causes significant psychological distress, and because it has an adverse effect on a person’s life.

Anxiety disorders such as health anxiety (ie. hypochondria) are intensely personal and involve thoughts and feelings that are often out of our control. 

To cope with it, you can try professional or self help CBT for health anxiety.

This type of treatment could help you identify unhelpful beliefs and behaviours associated with your health anxiety, and the  teach new ways of coping with those fears.

This involves learning skills to manage stress and anxiety, including relaxation techniques, mindfulness meditation, and other methods.

In some – not all – cases, cognitive behavioural therapy can well alongside medication. If you’re in doubt about the best way to feel better, try consulting with a licensed medical provider to receive professional treatment for health anxiety.

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Beginner's Guide To Self Help CBT For Health Anxiety