Professionals are seeing a huge rise in the number of people suffering from health anxiety. For months we’ve been reminded constantly to monitor our health and look for symptoms of potential illness. Under these conditions, anyone who was anxious before will be at risk of developing health anxiety.
This distressing condition was formerly diagnosed as "hypochondriasis", and is characterised by extreme anxiety about one’s health that involves a disproportionate focus on symptoms or potential symptoms, so much so that the sufferer becomes unable to carry out normal activities such as enjoying healthy relationships, holding down a job, or maintaining focus.
Tips to overcome this:
Be kind to yourself. Act as you would towards a good friend, with understanding and patience. Harsh self-criticism only leads to an escalating sense of helplessness.
Educate yourself about how diseases are diagnosed. Doctors almost never rely on the presence of one symptom to diagnose a disorder.
Consider having cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). You’ll learn to identify your disproportionately negative thoughts early, so you can choose to respond more adaptively.
Finally, get adequate rest, take regular exercise, and spend time with people you love.
Linda Blair is a UK-based clinical psychologist/The Daily Telegraph.