Illness Anxiety Disorder

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Health anxiety also known as illness anxiety disorder or hypochondria is a pervasive fear of developing a serious disease. Today it is more correctly termed as Illness Anxiety Disorder. It is a mental health condition characterised by excessive worry, fear, or preoccupation with having a serious medical illness, despite having no or minimal medical evidence to support the belief. Individuals with health anxiety often become overly concerned about normal bodily sensations, minor symptoms, or benign physical sensations, interpreting them as signs of a severe illness.

BWRT can work with the source of anxiety – which is the Reptilian Complex – it is highly effective in helping people with Illness Anxiety Disorder.

What are the key characteristics of Illness Anxiety Disorder:

  • Excessive Worry: individuals with Illness Anxiety Disorder constantly worry about their health, often fearing that they have a severe medical condition, even if there is no objective evidence to support this belief.
  • Frequent Checking: They may engage in frequent self-examination, online research about medical conditions, or seek reassurance from healthcare professionals.
  • Medical Tests: Some individuals with Illness Anxiety Disorder may insist on undergoing multiple medical tests and procedures, despite negative results, to confirm their concerns.
  • Catastrophic Thinking: Illness Anxiety Disorder often involves thinking in catastrophic terms, assuming the worst possible outcome regarding health.
  • Social and Occupational Impairment: Illness Anxiety Disorder can lead to significant impairment in daily functions, affecting relationships, work and overall quality of life.
  • Somatic Symptoms: Individuals may experience physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, or muscle tension which can be exacerbated or caused by their anxiety.
  • Duration: The excessive worry and preoccupation with health typically last for at least six months for a diagnosis of Illness Anxiety Disorder.

It is important to note that while health anxiety can lead to distress and impairment in daily life, the feared medical conditions are often not present, and the perceived severity of symptoms is disproportionate to the actual medical situation.

  • Identify Triggers: As BWRT Practitioners we are trained to identify specific triggers or situations that lead to Illness Anxiety Disorder. This may involve exploring past experiences, thoughts, and behaviours that contribute to the anxiety.
  • Rewire Thought Patterns: BWRT is particularly effective in helping clients rewire negative thought patterns associated with Illness Anxiety Disorder. It allows individuals to create new neural pathways, reducing the automatic and distressing response to health-related worries.
  • Establish New Responses: BWRT can help clients develop new, more constructive responses to health-related thoughts. Instead of immediately assuming the worst, clients can learn to respond with greater emotional balance and resilience
  • Emotional Regulation: Illness Anxiety Disorder often involves intense emotions such as fear and panic. BWRT helps clients regulate their emotional responses, reducing the intensity of these emotions.
  • Self-Empowerment: BWRT empowers individuals to take control of their thought processes and emotional responses. Clients learn to challenge irrational beliefs and develop a sense of agency in managing their health.