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A 21-year-old female asked:

can health anxiety really affect the body that much? i read about a symptom then get it and end up terrified

2 doctor answers6 doctors weighed in
Dr. Donald Gieck
Clinical Psychology 14 years experience
Yes: Health anxiety is associated with hypersensitivity to subtle changes in the body as well as preoccupation of thoughts that can result in perception of symtoms, or in many cases rumination/fear about negative health outcomes. If not treated it can increase in intensity over time to the point that it severely impacts ability to function day to day. Effective treatment is available - see comments.
Dr. Donald Gieck
Clinical Psychology 14 years experience
Provided original answer
Jul 7, 2015
Dr. Ana Adelstein
Clinical Psychology 27 years experience
Yes, it can: Excessive anxiety related to physical symptoms or a medical condition, sometimes referred to as "health anxiety" or "hypochondriasis" is typically thought of as a type of obsessive compulsive disorder: People are tormented by repeated, unwanted thoughts of their health fear: http://psychcentral.com/lib/ocd-and-health-anxiety/ It responds to Exposure and Response Prevention treatment -a form of CBT

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Last updated Nov 28, 2017

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