To worry about your health is a normal human experience. Health anxiety refers to the excessive concern that there may be a threat to your health which triggers your anxiety (fight/flight) response. Health anxiety is problematic when it is excessive, out of proportion to the realistic chances of having a serious problem, persists despite negative tests and reassurance from health professionals, leads to excessive unhelpful behaviours such as body-checking and medical test-seeking, and causes you significant distress or impacts on your functioning. Health anxiety can exist in people who are “healthy”, in people who are experiencing real yet unexplained medical symptoms, and in people who have an existing and diagnosed medical condition. In health anxiety the issue is not whether your physical symptoms are real, but whether you are responding to and coping with your symptoms in a helpful or unhelpful way.
Overcoming Health Anxiety: This information package is designed to provide you with some information about health anxiety, including how it develops, how it is maintained, and how to decrease your health worries and concerns. It is organised into modules that are designed to be worked through in sequence. We recommend that you complete one module before going on to the next. Each module includes information, worksheets, and suggested exercises or activities.
This module provides an overview of what health anxiety is, how it can be a problem, and what kind of impact it can have on a person's life.
This module explores, and provides a model of, how health anxiety may develop.
This module explores, and provides a model, of how health anxiety might be triggered and then maintained.
This module explores some attention training exercises aimed at reducing the amount of time you spend focussed on health symptoms and worries.
This module explores how your thoughts can influence your feelings, physiological state, and behaviours. This module then discusses ways to evaluate and overcome unhelpful health related thinking.
This module explores the different ways people check and seek reassurance regarding their health concerns, discusses the difference between helpful and unhelpful checking and reassurance seeking, and introduces strategies to reduce or eliminate these behaviours.
This module explores how avoidance and safety behaviours can keep health anxiety going, and introduces a strategy to gradually reduce and overcome these behaviours.
In this module we will focus on challenging the unhelpful rules and assumptions that can keep you caught in the vicious cycle of health anxiety.
This final module brings all the concepts of this information package together, presents a new model for healthy living, and includes a self-management plan to help you to stay on track in the future.
Click the link above to download all modules in this workbook at once, as a zip file.
What are Safety Behaviours?
Dealing with Health Information
Download all information sheets (zip file)
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