1100 Jorie Blvd. Suites 132 & 243 Oak Brook, IL 60523
64 Orland Square Dr. Suite 112 , Orland Park, IL 60462

Health Anxiety

Health Anxiety

Illness Anxiety Disorder, which may also be known as “health anxiety” or “hypochondriasis,” is a mental health condition in which the individual is preoccupied by the idea that they have, or will get, a serious illness. People with Illness Anxiety Disorder experience fear about their health despite a lack of symptoms, or in the presence of only mild somatic symptoms, such as increased heart rate or sweating. Individuals with verified medical conditions can also develop Illness Anxiety Disorder if their concern is out of proportion to the actual threat posed by their medical status. For example, a person with a benign cyst could also have Illness Anxiety Disorder if they worry about developing cancer, despite confirmation from their doctor that the cyst is benign. Individuals with Illness Anxiety Disorder feel compelled to engage in behaviors meant to reduce their anxiety and uncertainty about their health, such as checking the body for abnormalities. These behaviors may provide relief for their anxiety in the short term, but ultimately increase their anxiety about their health. Symptoms of Illness Anxiety Disorder vary across individuals, but may include one or more of the following:

  • Feelings of distress about health
  • Checking for signs of illness, such as by checking body temperature several times a day
  • Interpreting benign bodily changes (e.g., in heart rate, pains, muscle tension or digestion) as signs of illness
  • Avoiding routine medical appointments due to fear of what may be found, or
  • Scheduling excessive appointments, tests, and procedures, sometimes with multiple doctors, to try achieving “certainty” about health status
  • Seeking reassurance from loved ones or medical professionals about concern over symptoms
  • Not believing loved ones or medical professionals when informed of good health
  • Making unnecessary changes to diet or exercise regimens to avoid worsening assumed illnesses

Our team at The OCD & Anxiety Center specialize in the treatment of anxiety disorders including Illness Anxiety Disorder, and have the necessary training and resources to deliver evidence-based treatment to Illness Anxiety Disorder sufferers of all ages. We use Exposure and Response Prevention therapy (ERP) in the treatment of Illness Anxiety Disorder, as this is the therapy treatment which has proven most effective for a variety of anxiety disorders. Through ERP, individuals with Illness Anxiety Disorder learn to face their anxiety while decreasing their compulsive checking and reassurance seeking behaviors, helping them gradually gain their lives back from health anxiety. If you or someone you know would benefit from our specialized health anxiety treatment services, please reach out to us at 630-522-3124 today!