Hypochondria and Health Anxiety

“If you’ve got a lot of anxiety in this area, stop googling diseases. That’s like a person with a fear of flying being on a plane and choosing to watch an in-flight documentary about airplane crashes. It’s going to make you feel worse.”

All of us live in an imperfect body in a constantly changing environment. Some of us have it worse than others. But it is perfectly normal for our bodies to not work at its most optimal level at all times. Sometimes your stomach won’t feel too good. Sometimes you will feel a soreness that you didn’t notice before. Sometimes you’ll develop a rash. It’s all quite normal.

But when these unpleasant events occur, there’s different places that our thoughts can go to. There’s the “Oh, it’s nothing” thought, there’s the “Hmmm… I’m sure I’ll be ok. But just in case, I’ll go see the doctor in time” thought, and there’s also the thought “Oh my gosh. This is probably a terminal disease and I’m going to die. I need to see a doctor right now!” Like I explained in my 11th VLOG about the addiction to negativity, whichever thought your mind goes to, you will create a neural pathway between the event and your response. And if you keep on responding in the same way again and again, you can eventually become addicted to thinking in that way.

If you get to this point, this is very scary. And the scariest part of it all is the uncertainty. So, many people experiencing this kind of fear will then attempt to remove the uncertainty by seeing a health professional, a doctor. They get their relief upon hearing from the doctor that they are going to be fine.

But you know what has just happened inside your brain? It has just recorded this response and reward. And if you do this again and again, you can become dependant on this reward. In other words, seeing the doctor can become the coping mechanism that you are addicted to. And if this is the case, the number of people who can actually comfort you in this area drops down to a very small number.

If you’ve been so used to this pattern for a long time, another scary thing can start to happen automatically. Instead of first sensing a physical problem which then leads you to think catastrophically about your health, the whole pattern can become so interconnected overtime that these things start to happen in reverse. So your thoughts and your anxieties can begin to cause you to feel the symptoms of diseases, when actually, everything is fine.

This can cause a new problem. After the doctor says “You’re going to be fine,” there, again, are different places that your thoughts can go to. One thought might be “Yes, you’re probably right.” But another might be “Oh my gosh, you don’t know anything, do you? I know what I’m feeling and I know something is definitely wrong.” People with a lot of anxiety and a tendency to think negatively are also often very skeptical people. Skepticism protects them from overly trusting information that could be wrong. And after repeatedly doubting doctors, you can get yourself trapped into a place where there is no longer anyone who can comfort you. But the idea that there must be some perfect doctor out there will keep you on an endless hunt for that perfect doctor. And along the way, there’s so much anxiety, disappointment, and stress, and depending on where you live in the world, that could be quite costly too.

This is a mental health issue that requires a reprogramming of the mind. It is an addiction to thinking negatively about your own health. What you need to do is build a new pattern of thinking positively in this area. Yes, you can still see the doctor, but even before you do that, you have to learn how to comfort yourself and not always depend on the doctor to feel at peace.

For a more thorough explanation on how to recover from this pattern of negativity, check out my short series on the addiction to negativity:

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One thought on “Hypochondria and Health Anxiety

  1. cicidac says:

    Thank you Daniel! I found this site when looking for answers over why I felt guilty from a sense of “unproductivity”. I found all my answers from this site, and I now know so much about myself, and how I could transform and manipulate this striving for excellence into something more beneficial.

    One thing that always strikes me is how I never knew this was you all this time. I then watched some of your videos and realized, “hey, isn’t this Daniel Kim? POP DANTHOLOGY Daniel Kim??”. I recall watching a video labeled “The Psychology of Pop Danthology” and thinking, this person feels exactly like me. And then I stumble on this site, and I realize this person looks really familiar… I never knew you do so much more than music, and I’m so glad you have gone to make this site. Thank you so much!

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