Several people are worried about their health due to the crisis caused by COVID-19. Many are concerned about potential exposure to the virus and are taking extra precautions to stay healthy and prevent spread. While worries and anxiety about health are natural, especially considering the circumstances, for some, this anxiety is intense, distressing, frequent, and persistent. It does not go away with reassurance from a medical professional, and it can disrupt relationships or a person’s ability to work. This is called health anxiety.
People with health anxiety experience an overwhelming preoccupation about their health status. Because of this, their social and occupational lives suffer. They may visit or call their doctor frequently for medical tests to make sure they are healthy, or search the internet for symptoms or ask loved ones for reassurance. Others try to avoid anything to do with the disease, from learning about it to visiting the hospital when needed. This can put their health at serious risk!
Health anxiety is treatable. To begin getting treatment, a doctor should perform a thorough medical exam. If no disease or abnormality exists, the doctor might recommend seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist. Mental health professionals will perform diagnostic tests to give an accurate diagnosis and recommend treatment. The treatment can differ by case, but many prescribe medicines like antidepressants or therapies like cognitive behavioral training, which teaches people to better manage fear and adopt different ways of behaving.
In today’s environment, with this pandemic impacting so many aspects of daily life, it is more important than ever to take care of one’s mental health. If you believe you are affected by health anxiety, talk to your health care provider about your concerns and ask what you can do next.
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