Adult Child Adolescent Psychiatric Services, or ACAPS, opened March 1 at 1740 W. Virginia St., Ste. 100, McKinney. Dr. M. Sarfaraz Khan is a Board Certified adult psychiatrist and child and adolescent psychiatrist, according to the company’s website. ACAPS treats adults, children and teens suffering from a variety of psychiatric issues, including anger management, anxiety disorder, behavioral disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia, paranoia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, substance abuse, a computerized ADHD program and more. ACAPS also has a location in Plano at 5501 Independence Parkway, Ste. 302. 972- 709-7556. www.acapstx.com
Anxiety can affect people in many different ways. Some find that their daily habits are compromised, while others continue to go on with their routine, so much so that they may not even realize they have anxiety disorder. There are a number of habits that can be signs of high-functioning anxiety, and although it might seem fine to just keep going about your business while struggling with the disorder, managing your anxiety is just as important, even if you are still able to check everything off your to-do list.
“High-Functioning Anxiety has become [a] … pop-psychology term used by people who experience more than moderate levels of anxiety symptoms, but have either not attempted to seek treatment or have not been properly diagnosed by a mental health professional as having a diagnosable anxiety disorder,” psychotherapist Dr. Gin Love Thompson, Ph.D, M.A., M. Msc, tells Bustle. “The danger here is that just because you are ‘functioning,’ even with a high level of success, while experiencing moderate to high levels of anxiety does not mean it is a healthy state of living. And beyond potentially endangering your health, it is most probably reducing the quality of your daily life, work and relationships.”
Sometimes, it can be hard to decipher between what’s a common amount of anxiety and what could be considered anxiety disorder, especially if you’re managing to continue on with your life. But if you have these seven habits, it’s possible you may have high-functioning anxiety disorder, and may want to speak with a professional.
1You Can’t Sleep
Worrying all the time can lead to physical and mental exhaustion. “These constant racing thoughts, along with the overbooked schedules, lead to another trait: insomnia,” says Dr. Thompson. “This leads to a lessened ability to perform during the day, which makes the entire cycle of anxiety more toxic. The fatigue affects the body and mind.” Although there can be many causes for exhaustion, speak with a doctor or psychologist if you believe anxiety is to blame.
2You Pay Close Attention To Details
“High-functioning anxiety individuals are often extremely detail-oriented,” says Dr. Thompson. “Although this in moderation is a valuable trait, in excess it leads to extreme agitation and is a classic symptom of perfectionism. This can also be a symptom of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder [OCD] and lead to an unhealthy need to repeat tasks.”
3You Can’t Relax
If you have high-functioning anxiety, you might find that you can’t relax and that you are often exhausted, as a result. “Your mind doesn’t shut off, and you always feel like you should be doing something,” psychotherapist Kelly Bos, MSW, RSW tells Bustle. “When you do finally stop, it is through distracting or shutting down.”
4You Engage In “Numbing” Behaviors
When people experience chronic distress, they often have an urge to numb their feelings. “Numbing refers to behaviors that help us dull our emotional experience, but not actually deal with it,” Laurie Sharp-Page MS, LPCC-S, NCC, CWC. “Drinking, eating, shopping, watching TV and sleeping are all examples of coping skills, which when used in excess actually numb us to our emotional experience.” While many of these activities are common to do, take note if you tend to do them in excess when a particularly difficult situation or thought crops up — when engaging in these activities to avoid or mask feelings that could be bothering you, it may considered a “numbing” behavior. If you think you may be doing this, seeking the help of a therapist can help equip you with other tools to cope with your anxiety.
5You Focus On Control
Since anxiety makes us feel helpless and out of control, many people with high-functioning anxiety disorder engage in habits where they feel like they have the power. “You may try to counter that by focusing on controlling something else, like diet and exercise, cleaning, or achieving career goals,” licensed clinical psychologist Liz Gustafson, Ph.D. tells Bustle.
6You Push Yourself To Your Limits
“You might push yourself, a little too much,” says Bos. “[People with high-functioning anxiety] are high achievers, but they feel they have to be for acceptance from others and themselves. They are hard on themselves, having difficulty showing themselves self compassion and often criticizing themselves for what they didn’t do.”
7You Plan Everything
If you are someone who is overly early to appointments for fear of being late, while anxious to “get started” on whatever event, appointment, or task awaits, you may have high-functioning anxiety. “You may find it difficult to go with the flow,” says Dr. Thompson. “You may also plan ahead in ways that are beyond being proactive. This leads to wasted time and high levels of stress.”
Some anxiety is common, but if you feel like you are constantly in a state of worry, you might have high-functioning anxiety disorder and could benefit from seeking the help of a loved one or therapist.
Casey spent his childhood in the Brainerd Lakes Area and has lived in several places since then, including California, Thailand, Malaysia, and Duluth, MN. He moved back to the Brainerd Lakes Area with his wife and child to be closer to family. Casey enjoys spending time with family, reading, traveling, and being outdoors.
His services are covered by most insurances and he is currently accepting new patients.
Northern Psychiatric Associates is a full service mental health clinic that provides psychological and psychiatric services to patients of all ages. More information can be found at www.npamn.com or call 218.454.0090.
Sofia Andres recently shared that she will not appear in showbiz-related projects for a month to deal with her anxiety disorder, raising awareness on how anxiety affects an individual.
The Kapamilya actress previously admitted that she was seeing a therapist for her anxiety.
In May 30, she shared on Twitter: “I have been struggling and don’t know how (I will) prevent it. Started going to a therapist and go counseling for a couple of times.”
“Anxiety is anxiety, we don’t know when is it going to attack you. Yes, I am always worried with everything. Literally everything.”
She also shared a more detailed account on her Instagram, noting that she supports anyone who is facing similar struggles.
Andres has openly admitted that she will “lie low for a month” to deal with her anxiety.
okay so i think many of you are looking for me on screen. i have decided to lie low for a month. it’s good to be focusing, loving yourself when you know you are slowly losing yourself from pushing it too hard. i learned a lot of things, to appreciate more, to be more positive,
— Sofia Alejandre (@iamsofiaandres) June 12, 2018
i have declined blessings that was offered to me because i think i’m not ready yet, i’m not ready to give my all yet but hopefully soon. i’m really trying my best. thank you for those who have been so supportive and for those who never give up w their anxiety.
— Sofia Alejandre (@iamsofiaandres) June 12, 2018
i can’t wait for the time to love again, to love something, to love someone without worrying, without overthinking. i wish i could stop everything all the negative thoughts but we are not our anxiety. we are strong, we are fine.
— Sofia Alejandre (@iamsofiaandres) June 12, 2018
Andres was part of ABS-CBN’s drama-fantasy series “Bagani,” where she played the role of Mayari.
How anxiety disorder affects actors
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorder can be further broken down:
- Specific psychiatric disorders that involve extreme fear and worrying;
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD);
- Panic disorder and panic attacks;
- Social anxiety disorder;
- Selective mutism;
- Separation anxiety;
- Other specific phobias
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are also closely linked with anxiety disorder. Individuals are most likely to suffer from depression as well.
General symptoms of anxiety disorder include sweating, trembling, feeling nervous or tense all the time, having a sense of danger, increased heartbeat, rapid breathing (hyperventilation), having trouble concentrating and feeling weak and tired, among others.
In her Instagram post, Andres shared that she has been having anxiety attacks and that she has the tendency to overthink and worry all the time.
She added, “These past few days, I haven’t been replying to my friends. The reason behind it is that my brain’s a little messed up sometimes.”
“What that means in the simplest possible terms, is that a lot of time I feel very, very low. (I) think about bad thoughts and just spend time in bed.”
Drama therapist and actress Leith Taylor noted that acting can place a “mental strain on performers,” saying that they can suffer from performance anxiety and high levels of stress.
“Research over many years has acknowledged that those drawn to working in the arts tend to be highly vulnerable to depression and anxiety,” Taylor said.
She noted that it could be attributed to the fact that actors are supposed to feel “deep emotions” whenever they are playing a certain role and how they can identify themselves with the character.
“Actors frequently tap into their personal histories to evoke the emotions required to play a role. This can be traumatic if it triggers deep issues or elicits difficult experiences and memories,” Taylor said.
Andres has previously shared that she was bullied in school, with classmates calling her “mayabang.” This made her fear rejection, in turn making her feel inadequate and suffer anxiety. She also admitted that she was looked down as a “starlet.”
Dealing with anxiety on your own can be challenging. And often, having a supportive partner around to help you through it can be a real source of strength. But occasionally, you might find that your new love is amazingly rad, thinks you’re cool, too, and also seems not to know very much about anxiety at all — or, worse, has some beliefs about mental health that aren’t based in fact, or are even stigmatizing. Many people simply don’t have a vocabulary around mental health, thanks to decades of stigma, and unfortunately, sometimes it’s up to those of us with mental illness to help people who don’t understand, well, get it. If you aren’t sure about how to start a discussion about mental health, it can help to ask your partner questions to help them understand your anxiety through some serious empathy.
Anxiety disorders come in many forms, from generalized anxiety to PTSD and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and there are many preconceptions about each — preconceptions that can be broken down with a little bit of empathy. And of course, if your partner isn’t willing to try to empathize with you about your mental health, then, heck, that’s a sign they probably won’t empathize about much else, either (and yes, that’s a red flag). You’re in this as a team, after all.
If you’re in need of a general framework to start the conversation, counselor Heidi McBain suggests these three questions as ways to help your partner get a bigger, more accurate picture of anxiety and how it impacts your life. Here are three things to ask your partner if you want them to better understand your mental health.
2.“Do You Know The Difference Between Anxiety And Stress?”
“The term anxiety gets used in society a lot of today to simply mean “worried” or “stressed”,” says McBain. “But a true anxiety diagnosis goes so much deeper than this.” And that’s an important thing to discuss. Sometimes terminology can be misleading. Feeling worried about something isn’t the same as having anxiety about it, and anxiety disorders aren’t just slightly more intense concern. Understanding this difference can help your partner avoid trivializing your anxiety, and understand when you need help.
3.“What Do You Notice About Anxiety In My Life?”
Anxiety, McBain says, “is pervasive in the person’s life, and if left untreated, can be debilitating in that people change their behavior and where they go, who they see, how they act, etc. In extreme cases, people may even stop leaving their house and interacting with others.” If your partner has noticed this behavior, helping them understand that it’s a product of anxiety may clear some things up for them; if they haven’t noticed anything, this may nudge them to make some connections.
Once your new partner has got a clear picture of what your anxiety is, this is a chance for them to articulate how it affects them and what they’ve noticed about your mood. And then you can start working, together, on how to help manage your anxiety, improve awareness of it, and facilitate your treatment.
The news of celebrated designer Kate Spade’s death by suicide last week was shocking.
The “Kate Spade brand” was known for its cheery, sweet, sunshiny colors and ease, and whenever Spade was out in public, whether alone or with her husband and business partner, Andy, she projected that same image. Buoyant, smiling, impeccably put together, perfect.
“She made us feel that the perfect life was eminently achievable,” Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman writes.
Who doesn’t want to have a perfect life?
Perhaps we should reconsider.
Now, of course, we heartachingly know that Spade’s life was anything but perfect. Her husband admits that they had been living apart for the past 10 months, and that she had been battling mental illness and anxiety for the past few years; her older sister says Spade was “definitely worried about what people would say if they found out” about her struggles.
So she kept them to herself. Cue the perfection.
Spade had evidently been deeply affected by the suicide of Marin’s Robin Williams in 2014. Williams, too, we find out from Dave Itzkoff’s new biography, “Robin,” kept much of his struggles to himself.
By all appearances, Spade was a woman who had it all, a life many of us would consider enviable — balancing a successful family-friendly business with being a wife and mom, and a loving, supportive equal partner. But appearances are deceptive.
Just look on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, where many of us are guilty of presenting a super-curated image of our lives that generally just shows our best moments, never the full spectrum of what’s going on — the joys, the pains, the hardships, the ambivalence, the fears and the grief along with the transcendent moments.
Researchers say it’s taking a toll on all of us. A recent study found that, between 1989 to 2016, there’s been a huge jump in perfectionism among recent undergraduates here and abroad, as well as an increasing need to “measure up” to peers and more harsh judgments of them — a trend the researchers called “worrying.”
It is worrisome. A friend’s 30-something daughter, a mom of two, shared that some of her friends can’t be on Instagram on Mother’s Day because they’ll compare their “special day” to how other moms spent it or the gifts they got, causing spousal conflict, envy and sadness instead of feeling joy for their friends’ good fortunes.
Perfectionistic leanings have been linked to a veritable laundry list of health problems, from depression to anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder to eating disorders to suicide. At a QA after a recent San Rafael screening of “Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety,” a documentary co-produced by Marin filmmaker Karin Gornick that features numerous Marin kids living with anxiety disorders, Gornick said many teens in the audience said they wished their parents knew just how much pressure they feel to be “perfect.”
That’s OK, kids; your parents are feeling the same pressure.
There’s a veneer of perfectionism in Marin — the perfect kids, the perfect homes, the perfect bodies, the perfect car, the perfect stuff. “There is kind of a self-delusional myth that I find that people have here, that everything is perfect and everything’s great and they live in a bubble,” Rebecca Foust, Marin’s former poet laureate told me when she published her award-winning book “Paradise Drive.” Foust had been rattled by the suicides of three Marin women, one of whom she knew, within a short span. “It’s very easy to live in a bubble and not see the rest of the world. I wanted to puncture that bubble and set it straight.”
Just a few days after Spade’s death came the suicide of celebrated chef, author and television personality Anthony Bourdain, a man who was transparent about his flaws and demons, but who seemingly had a insatiable lust for life. So many of us wanted his adventurous, high-energy life; it seemed so perfect.
No life is perfect. Puncturing the bubble sounds about right.
Vicki Larson’s So It Goes runs every other week. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at OMG Chronicles
When someone is struggling with depression, even daily tasks can feel insurmountable. But there are steps you can take to help a loved one.
Fashion designer Kate Spade was found dead in her New York apartment on Tuesday, after an apparent suicide. Before her death, Spade, 55, suffered from depression, but had not received treatment, according to her sister, who spoke with the Kansas City Star.
However, her husband, Andy Spade, said in a statement that she was “actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease.” She suffered from anxiety and depression, he said, and was taking medication.
“We were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy,” he said. “There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock. And it clearly wasn’t her. There were personal demons she was battling.”
He added, “She was actively seeking help for depression and anxiety over the last 5 years, seeing a doctor on a regular basis and taking medication for both depression and anxiety. There was no substance or alcohol abuse.”
Spade is not alone. More than 16 million American adults, or 6.7% of the adult population, have experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
“There is hope and there is recovery,” said Dan Reidenberg, the executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, a nonprofit based in Minnesota. “Treatment does work. By far, most people who experience depression live and function successfully and go about their lives.”
Major depression — defined as a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest — is more common in women than in men, and the median age of onset is 32.5 years old, although it can occur at any age, the ADAA said.
Other causes of suicide
Some 37% of adults with major depressive episodes do not receive any treatment at all. More adults suffer from other types of mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder, which can also make life difficult without treatment.
Some people hide their depression from others, making it very hard to detect. What’s more, depression and suicidality aren’t always linked, Winston said. “There are people who die of suicide where there’s no evidence they were previously depressed, or no one can find evidence they were depressed,” she said.
Or, someone may die of suicide because they feel immense shame, or they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, she said. “It’s not always depression.”
What to look out for
Feelings of emptiness, hopelessness and guilt are common for those experiencing depression. It helps to know the signs, recognize them and then encourage treatment, according to the Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit academic medical center based in Rochester, Minn.
Common symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness, tearfulness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities. But symptoms also include tiredness, or even sleeping too much, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, changes in appetite and unexplained physical problems.
In some people, especially children and teens, depression may show up as irritability or crankiness rather than sadness. That symptom is often misunderstood, said Sally Winston, co-director of the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute of Maryland. Friends and family members may “get mad at them because they’re not their usual self,” she said.
Those at risk might actually talk about suicide or watch television shows and movies about it, or read books or online articles about it, Reidenberg said. He or she may mention death, suicidal thoughts or make statements like “I wish I hadn’t been born,” or, “I feel like I have no future,” or, “I feel hopeless.”
If you think someone is suffering, “ask them directly and clearly,” Reidenberg said. Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone, increasing use of alcohol or drugs, saying they feel trapped or hopeless and giving away belongings or getting affairs in order can also be signs.
How to offer help
One of the best ways to help: Assist in setting up a doctor’s appointment for someone who is struggling — including helping finding someone who accepts their insurance, if possible. Go with them if needed, help with transportation and continue to follow up, the Mayo Clinic says.
Prepare a list of questions to ask the doctor or mental health provider. Think about a team of loved ones who can reach out to the person at risk at different times, and at different ways. It may be just as uplifting to hear from a friend who lives far away as it is to hear from a close confidante.
Finances should not be a barrier, Reidenberg said. Even for someone who is uninsured, there are free resources, including suicide hotlines and texting lines, and mental health professionals who allow patients to pay on a sliding scale. That scale may even go down to zero, he said.
The nonprofit organization United Way is another affordable mental-health resource, he said. The emergency room is another option if needed, because patients can go there for an evaluation and be treated, even without showing proof of insurance.
When to intervene
The days following a high-profile death may be an even more important time to do this: Exposure to someone else who has died by suicide, even if that person is a celebrity, is one of the risk factors for suicide and can lead to copycat suicides, according to the NIMH.
Someone who is already considering suicide might be more at risk after Spade’s death. In fact, after actor Robin Williams died of suicide, there was a 10% increase in suicides in the U.S., with a particular uptick among people ages 30 to 44, according to researchers at Columbia University.
“They start to identify with the person who has died,” Reidenberg said. “They might think, ‘Here is someone who had fame and fortune and access to good care and was married and had a child. If she can’t make it, how can I make it?’ But you can lead a functioning, successful life.”
How to talk about it
Broach the subject carefully. Ask directly if your friend or loved one has considered suicide, Reidenberg said. Research suggests that talking to someone about suicide isn’t going to lead them to taking their life, nor will it put the thought into their head, he said.
“If they are, in fact, really thinking about it, talking might give them a sense of relief,” he added. “Then, you can form a connection, which will be helpful in getting them the help they need.” It also allows you to let family members and friends know what’s going on.
Make sure the person is supervised and in a safe environment and eliminate anything that they might use to harm themselves, such as weapons. Call a suicide hotline, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. And, if there is immediate danger, call 911.
Maria LaMagna covers personal finance for MarketWatch in New York.
We Want to
Hear from You
Join the conversation
Panic attacks are stressful, scary, and can be difficult to deal with. Some people get them just once in awhile, but others experience them frequently, and this could indicate a panic disorder. If you’re someone who finds that you experience panic-like symptoms often, you may be exhibiting some signs of panic disorder, an anxiety disorder characterized by reoccurring, unexpected panic attacks. About two to three percent of Americans experience panic disorder in a given year, and it is twice as common in women than in men, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
“Panic disorder is an actual mental health diagnosis as defined by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 (the bedrock of the diagnostic mental health community),” Annie Wright, LMFT of Evergreen Counseling tells Bustle. “A panic disorder is treatable, and those that are dealing with this, or believe they may be dealing with this, would be advised to seek out psychotherapy and/or talk to their primary care doctor about this.”
If you feel like your life has been affected by panic attacks, you may be affected by panic disorder. Here are 11 signs that you may indicate that you have panic disorder, according to experts.
1.You Have A History Of Recurrent Panic Attacks
In order to be diagnosed with panic disorder, you must experience frequent panic attacks. “One or two panic attacks does not qualify for a diagnosis of panic disorder,” Nancy Irwin, Psy.D., Primary Therapist at Seasons in Malibu, tells Bustle. “Rather, this diagnosis is based on: a history of recurring panic attacks, and a lingering fear of dread of the next one.” The disorder is differentiated from social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), agoraphobia, or other fears/phobias, and it is also differentiated from the symptoms listed above that are due to substance abuse or another medical condition.
2.You Experience Heart Palpitations
There are a number of symptoms that constitute a panic attack, and heart palpitations is one of them. “You catch your heart pounding, racing, or generally beating at a highly accelerated rate when you’re not exercising or doing an activity that would otherwise account for a high heart rate,” says Wright. Of course elevated heart rate is something you should always speak to your doctor about, but if you believe it’s due to panic disorder, it may be best to speak to a therapist as well.
3.You Have Shortness Of Breath
Another common symptom of a panic attack is shortness of breath or a sense of being smothered. “You find it hard to take deep, even breaths and experience a restriction in your breathing capacities when there is no external reason for this,” says Wright.
4.You Get An Upset Stomach
An additional indicator of a panic attack is upset stomach. “You experience nausea, irritable bowels, or general discomfort in your stomach and intestinal area that cannot be better accounted for (say, with food poisoning),” says Wright. Once again, if you are experiencing these symptoms, seeking professional help can prevent them from taking over.
5.You Feel Dizzy Or Lightheaded
Feeling dizzy or lightheaded is another sign of a panic attack. “You feel the room spin around or experience a general sense of lightheadedness at different times, with no known physical reason for this,” says Wright.
6.You Get Body Chills
Finally, when experiencing a panic attack, you might also get body chills. “You experience what might seem like hot flashes or the sudden onset of chills with no correlation to what’s happening in your external environment,” says Wright. There are additional symptoms to panic attacks, but according to Wright, these are the most common among her clients.
7.You Live In Fear Of Panic Attacks
In addition to experiencing panic attacks, people with panic disorder also live in increased fear of getting panic attacks. “Individuals may have concern or worry about additional panic attacks or their consequences (e.g., losing control, having a heart attack),” Talkspace therapist Dr. Rachel O’Neill, LPCC tells Bustle. “They begin to fear that a future panic attack will happen and that they will experience a consequence like being embarrassed around friends and family.”
8.You Engage In Behaviors To Avoid Panic Attacks
“Oftentimes, someone with panic disorder will engage in behaviors to avoid having another panic attack,” psychotherapist Alisa Kamis-Brinda, LCSW, LCADC tells Bustle. “This may include avoiding situations in which they think that they will have another panic attack or avoiding things like exercise that they think will trigger a panic attack.”
9.You Have Agoraphobia
Someone with panic disorder may also experience agoraphobia, which is fear of two or more of the following: public transportation, being in open spaces, being in enclosed spaces, standing in line or being in a crowd, and being outside of the home alone. “These situations are feared due to belief that escape might be difficult or help might not be available if they experience a panic attack,” says Kamis-Brinda. “These fears often lead to avoidance of the feared situation, only being in the feared situation with a support person, or enduring the feared situation with high levels of anxiety.”
10.You Get Panic Attacks In Your Sleep
As if daytime panic attacks weren’t bad enough, when you have panic disorder, panic attacks can also occur while you sleep. “Some individuals experience a nocturnal panic attack, in which they will awaken from a sleep state in a complete state of panic,” says Dr. O’Neill.
11.You Fear Health Concerns
If you frequently experience fear or concern related to health and mental health concerns, it could be a result of your panic disorder. “Individuals with panic disorder often worry about their physical health concerns and may believe that physical symptoms, like headaches, are reflective of a larger medical concern, for example, a tumor,” says Dr. O’Neill.
If you experience these symptoms, you may have panic disorder. Treatment is possible, so be sure to see a doctor or therapist if you find yourself having frequent panic attacks.
Health anxiety disorder, formerly known as hypochondriasis or hypochondria, is a condition wherein a person believes that he or she is seriously ill, with only a few or no symptoms.
Health Anxiety Disorder Overview
Health anxiety disorder or illness anxiety disorder is a condition that falls under the obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) spectrum of disorders. People who have this condition may have a preoccupation with the idea of being physically ill.
In some cases, individuals with hypochondriasis may misinterpret minor or normal body sensations as severe disease symptoms. Even if doctors or medical professionals have already confirmed and reassured that the patient has no disease, he or she may still keep worrying.
Common Signs of Health Anxiety Disorder
People with health anxiety disorder may experience persistent worry about their health. They often check their body for any signs and symptoms of the disease. These include pain, tingling, and the presence of lumps.
Some patients with the disorder may continuously ask others for reassurance that they are not sick. Also, they may think that the doctor may have missed something, or the laboratory tests are not accurate.
Today, the most common sign of health anxiety is the obsession with looking at health information on the internet. The patients with health anxiety disorder may look for serious diseases which are linked to the various symptoms they are feeling.
Other patients may become scared of seeing objects or programs which have something to do with a serious illness. The most common diseases which the patients look into are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and the various types of cancer.
Most patients may also act as if they are really sick. They may avoid certain physical activities or remain in bed for long periods.
Causes of Health Anxiety Disorder
There are many theories that suggest the cause of health anxiety.
The cognitive theory involves the catastrophic misinterpretations of sensations and symptoms. This means that the patient may misinterpret various sensations he or she feels.
Some individuals with a diagnosed disease may overestimate the seriousness of the condition. They may feel that there is an imminent threat to one’s health.
These misinterpretations may stem from certain bodily sensations. For instance, a patient may complain of a pounding heart. He or she may misinterpret this sensation as an impending heart attack.
Also, normal physical symptoms which may produce worry and fear among the patients with health anxiety include heart rate, blood pressure, depth of breathing, and muscle tone, among others.
Hence, the patients with health anxiety may experience physical sensations, but not symptoms of any disease. The medical test results come out negative, but the patients think that their symptoms are real.
The biological theory refers to the physiological and adaptive responses of the body to fear. Some people may develop anxiety disorders, such as hypochondriasis, as a result of their genetic predisposition. They are vulnerable to experiencing extreme fear or worry.
These individuals may be more sensitive, reactive, and excitable when faced with stress.
The psychological factors involve the person’s beliefs, thoughts, and perceptions. These may be linked to their environment, themselves, and their experiences.
As a result, these factors may take a toll on their sense of control over the environment or in the body. Also, these factors may influence one’s assessment and interpretation of certain events in the environment as either non-threatening or threatening.
Environmental or Social Causes
Theoretically, people develop an anxiety disorder when they have both psychological and biological susceptibilities. But, in some cases, people may develop health disorder from the social environment. These include social interactions, life experiences, and relationships with others.
Health Anxiety is a Mental Health Disorder that Needs Attention
People with health anxiety need professional help to aid in their treatment. Health anxiety persists despite reassurance from medical practitioners. Thus, patients may have a vicious cycle of medical tests, emergency room (ER) visits, and clinical consultations.
The patients may experience repeated sensations of illness, misinterpretation of symptoms, and anxiety attacks. Reassurance may provide temporary relief, but soon after, the cycle starts again.
Visiting a mental health doctor or psychologist can help diagnose the condition appropriately. So that, proper treatment options can be initiated to improve anxiety and its accompanying symptoms.
Reviewed by HH Patel, M.Pharm.
- What is Health Anxiety Disorder