Frequently Asked Questions About Illness Anxiety Disorder

Frequently Asked Questions About Illness Anxiety Disorder

Frequently Asked Questions About Illness Anxiety Disorder

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A person with cancer or any terminal condition goes through many mental suffering, including depression, anxiety, and continuing fear of having some other illness.

Illness anxiety disorder is a constant fear of suffering from a serious medical condition. An individual with this type of disorder pays too much attention to his health. He is usually easily terrified by anything that he interprets as an indication of disease, including bodily reactions, mild symptoms, or even normal physical sensations. For this person, experiences like these may warn him of an upcoming illness with a negative result. For instance, he may be scared that the typical sound of a hungry stomach or water swallowing may be signs of a grave disease.

Vocabulary has been modified for disorders of this form. The area has shifted from using the term ‘hypochondriasis,’ as it is a condescending word. ‘Somatization’ has been substituted by the phrase ‘somatic symptoms.’ It does seem like it’s a minor difference, although the change recognizes that the individual’s physical (or somatic) symptoms are true.

This new conclusion (about illness anxiety disorder, that is) centers on the most obvious symptom, which is anxiety caused by the fear of having an illness.

Some people formerly diagnosed with having hypochondriasis would presently be provided with a diagnosis of somatic symptom disorder instead of having an illness anxiety disorder. Overall, people who have somatic symptom disorder report experiencing physical indications, or if symptoms exist, they are usually minor.

Someone with illness anxiety could be particularly worried about a specific organ system, like the renal or cardiac system. His physician’s encouragement and comfort and perhaps a thorough medical assessment would not often pacify his fears. Or if it does pacify him, other concerns may arise soon.


Below are more details about an illness anxiety disorder that you can learn through this article’s frequently asked questions and their corresponding answers. 


How is illness anxiety disorder diagnosed?  

Illness anxiety disorder is defined as an obsession with and the distress of having a severe health condition. Diagnosing is established when the distress and its symptoms, if there are any, are seen for more than six months, despite the person being assured of a complete medical evaluation. 

What is the prescribed treatment for illness anxiety disorder?  

Antidepressants like SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may aid in treating illness anxiety disease. Prescription medications that manage anxiety or mood disorders may also help in some cases.

Does anxiety make you physically ill?  

Anxiety causes blood flow to increase, and this will often make you feel warm and lightheaded. These symptoms might be mistaken for the common flu. But over time, anxiety can debilitate the immune system, leading you to feel weak, tired, and sick. Consequently, the state of your body makes it easier to be invaded by viruses.

Can health anxiety cause physical symptoms?  

Many symptoms that people with health anxiety experience are mostly physical sensations due to depression or anxiety that may accompany the hypochondria (health anxiety). The persistent worrying can produce damaging stress hormones and consequently result in actual physical injury. 

Are Googling symptoms a bad idea?

Diagnosing your symptoms through Googling can cover a possibly harmful condition. Hence, aside from the incorrect and doubtful diagnosis of several medical websites on the web, it is the danger of not identifying a condition appropriately that is worse. 

Is an anxiety disorder a mental illness?

Anxiety leads to disorder when it begins to impact your capacity to cope, your ability to experience and perform your usual day-to-day activities, or properly relate with your surroundings. 

What is the best medication for health anxiety?

Bouts of hypochondriasis or health anxiety typically persist for months and even years, with regularly longer remission durations. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and regular intake of fluoxetine, an antidepressant, have proven to be effective treatment regimens for health anxiety.

How can you reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety?

Exercise is a great way to decrease the physical symptoms you are experiencing when you are anxious, as it lowers stress levels and enhances physical and mental health. Getting enough sleep and avoiding too much caffeine and alcohol can also help with this. Finally, learning and practicing relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing are effective as well. 

Does anxiety go away if you ignore it?

The first form of anxiety may go away by itself, but the rest of the forms don’t, and most people are never capable of completely getting rid of their anxiety. If these are left untreated, anxiety disorders can destroy one’s life. 

Is health anxiety common?

Health anxiety is seen in only 4% to 5% of the population. 

How does chronic anxiety affect the body?  

When you are in constant fight or flight status, such as in chronic anxiety, you may experience negative and severe manifestations on your body. Muscle tension may push you to be ready for threat quickly, but muscles that are always tense can lead to headaches, migraines, and even pain. 

How do I stop worrying about everything? 

To keep you from always worrying about anything and everything, you can try doing these:

  • Don’t try too hard to figure out things on your own. Ask for help.
  • Don’t lie to yourself about what you feel.
  • Take care of yourself mentally and physically.
  • Think positively.
  • Be mindful of your intentions.


Additional Information 

There is proof that several forms of therapies can assist individuals diagnosed with an illness anxiety disorder – behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy, stress management, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Therapists demonstrate relaxation and distraction strategies and help patients concentrate less on the symptoms they’re experiencing and instead discuss how depression, anxiety, and stress heightens their psychological distress. Therapists agree that a lot of the patient’s actions to try to alleviate their anxiety usually rebound. Feeling for bumps, scanning for disease, or reading more about a feared condition only worsens their symptoms.

Individuals with an illness anxiety disorder are inclined to consult with healthcare providers. Coincidentally, they also do not want to see healthcare providers due to fear that people might see their symptoms as only in their heads. Nevertheless, care and support from their primary care physician, accompanied by psychotherapy (if the patient is amenable), can be significantly beneficial.


Several patients have positive outcomes with psychotherapy, medication, or both. If the patient has depression or anxiety that responds to medication therapy, the prognosis could be pretty good. In minor cases, indications can be short-term. If the symptoms are grave and the patient has other underlying mental health illnesses, he may be vulnerable to persistent distress and functioning issues.




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