4 Ways Your Hypochondria Will End Up Causing Real Medical Issues
Remember when we were kids and fell out of a tree or scraped our knee and didn’t think about it the next day after we were all bandaged up? Now that we’re older we are more aware of our health and well-being because we either have people who depend on us or we see people around us dying to health-related issues. Hypochondria is an anxiety disorder where someone will hyper focus on ever little body sensation and confuse it for a more serious illness.
Those who suffer from hypochondria will often find themselves questioning any change in their body to a worse degree. Have you ever heard people say, “Don’t WebMD yourself?” Hypochondriacs face a constant unending series of what if questions that all lead to the worse conclusion possible and their frequent doctor’s offices visits often give them no reassurance. Hypochondriacs will also have their anxiety worsened by hearing others die of health-related issues such as cancer. It can get even worse by seeing people around their age pass away from health issues. Unfortunately, too much worrying can actually cause health-related issues in the long run, which is what hypochondriacs aim to avoid.
#4 Muscular System Issues
When your adrenal glands release cortisol into your body to activate it’s fight-or-flight response your muscles will react with muscle spasms. When your muscles aren’t in use these muscle spasms can be uncomfortable and often exacerbate anxiety. Constant hypochondria will unnecessary stress on your body’s muscles which will eventually lead to uncomfortable muscle tension, especially if the muscles are not in use.
#3 Weaken Immune System
Excessive worrying will lead to chronic anxiety. Chronic anxiety will lead to your body constantly throwing itself into its fight-or-flight response by releasing extra cortisol into your bloodstream. The high levels of cortisol can suppress one’s immune system which increases the risk of cancer and other autoimmune diseases. A weakened immune system may actually lead to real medical issues which will only reinforce a hypochondriac’s worry over their body.
#2 Bowel Issues
Hypochondria is a form of anxiety, which can lead to high periods of stress. Many people don’t realize it, but your gut and your brain talk back and forth more than two teenage girls racking up their parents’ mobile bills. When you are stressed it causes spasms in your intestinal tract that can lead to constipation and diarrhea. That doesn’t make sense you might say, but think about this, have you ever been stressed about an important meeting or test the next day and had a horrible night on the can with a bad case of diarrhea? That’s your brain freaking out and your gut saying let me freak out too.
#1 Heart Disease
Hypochondria is a subsect of anxiety, and anxiety can cause temporary spikes in blood pressure. Having constant hypochondria can cause constant spikes in blood pressure which will cause heart-related health issues in the long run. While acute heart palpitations aren’t particularly dangerous, it can cause issues with the heart in the long run by running the risk of an enlarged heart and other cardiovascular issues.
What Can I Do About It?
As irritating as Facebook moms can be about yoga being the cure-all for everything, it can be one of the many tools used in the battle against hypochondria. Yoga has very calming effects that can help ease one’s physical being, which is where most of the anxiety comes from when it comes to hypochondriacs. Yoga will help relieve the muscle tension caused anxiety-related muscle spasms. The sympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for pumping adrenaline and cortisol into your body, has shown to be calmed by practicing yoga.
Many hypochondriacs may have an aversion to mental help because of their belief that they do have a debilitating physical illness, but cognitive-behavioral therapy can help with alleviating the compulsive need to visit doctors or self-research illnesses that don’t exist. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of therapy that can help train one’s brain with coping issues during an anxiety attack caused by hypochondria. Eventually your goal is to get your brain to not fall back onto bad habits when suffering an anxiety attack such as, using the internet to search symptoms, hyperventilating, or going back to a clinic only to find out there is nothing wrong. Psychotherapy can help a hypochondriac conquer their fears with positive coping methods.
#2 Biofeedback Therapy
Biofeedback therapy is one of the better options for hypochondriacs because of the ability to see how one’s body is reacting during anxiety attacks. Biofeedback can look at one’s breathing, muscle contractions, heart rate, and brain wave activity. Seeing how anxiety is affecting a body physiologically can help a hypochondriac manage their response to stress and actually train their brain to not react a certain way to specific thoughts and feelings. A hypochondriac’s body is attached to different sensors that read how they are reacting to different emotions. Since hypochondria gives anxiety by reacting to different bodily sensations, it helps to see the physiological issues caused by attacks in order to help reduce them.
#1 Mindfulness / Wellness
Another trick to try anytime you can during your day is to practice mindfulness can help reduce your stress and reorient yourself to the present. When you drive to work or when you do the dishes you can take that moment and just be present, don’t hang onto the past or dwell on the future. Focus on the present and perhaps try out the 4-7-8 breathing. The 4-7-8 breathing technique is done by breathing in through your nose for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds, and out through your mouth for 8 seconds. You should repeat this cycle four times at least two times a day. Overall wellness can incorporate a number of holistic alternative healing methods that can help supplement traditional methods of tackling anxiety caused by hypochondria. Acupuncture has a very calming effect on the body, can reduce heart rates which in turn will lower the body’s stress level, and re-train your body’s reaction to stress. Having a massage will also help with relieving the muscle tension caused by anxiety or panic attacks associated with hypochondria.