Let's talk about health anxiety.
How do you know if you have health anxiety?
Chances are if you have it, you already know. You know because you spend a lot of time paying attention to sensations or symptoms that you're experiencing and wondering what they might mean. You tend to go to worst case scenarios instead of considering less dire possibilities. You are obsessed with negative thoughts about your health or the health of people you care about. And you're frustrated because it seems so irrational!
This is an area that hypnosis can definitely address, and, in fact, I currently have three clients who are all dealing with this situation.
So, what is health anxiety all about? How does it get started? And how do we resolve it?
In order to understand health anxiety, we need to understand the subconscious mind.
The subconscious works by association, is illogical and protective and takes in messages at certain times which it then responds to. Let me give you an example.
Client #1 started experiencing a pain in his arm while he was at work. He thought he was having a heart attack or a stroke and began panicking.
As it turned out, what he was experiencing was a result of poor ergonomics. It was a matter of how he was using his keyboard and the repetitive actions he was engaging in. But by the time he figured that out, damage had already been done. He would begin to have panic attacks on a regular basis at work to the point where he went on a health leave because going to work was becoming too stressful.
To top it off, he also started becoming overly focused on sensations in his body, wondering if any little discomfort was an indication that something was wrong with his body. This led to more panic. He started withdrawing from going out and spending time with friends because he became fearful that he might have another panic attack. His life was becoming very small and limited.
So what happened?
The subconscious works by association. Because he was at work when he had the scary sensation in his arm, his subconscious linked work to that sensation. The job of the subconscious is self preservation. If it thinks work is going to hurt you or harm you in some way, if work gets associated with fear or pain, it will do anything it can to keep you from going to work, hence the panic attacks.
At times when we are all emotional or overwhelmed, the subconscious is wide open. What this means is that what we're telling ourselves in those moments gets taken into the subconscious. If we are overwhelmed or emotional because there's some weird sensation in our body that we don't understand and, as a result, we're telling ourselves “There’s something wrong with my body” the subconscious takes that message in and his subconscious started looking for what was wrong with his body whenever he experienced an unknown sensation.
So how can we resolve this?
Fortunately, hypnotherapy is great for this kind of challenge because we can speak directly to the subconscious and tell it what it needs to know. This client understands intellectually that there's nothing wrong with him. He was whisked away to the hospital. He had an MRI and a CT scan and his tests all came back as normal. But knowing that intellectually wasn't enough to change his symptoms. Often, when people come to see me, they know intellectually that they are OK, there healthy, there's nothing to worry about. But knowing something intellectually doesn't mean the subconscious knows it as well.
When I have a client in hypnosis, I have the ability to speak to their subconscious mind and catch it up on new information. This client needed to know, on a subconscious level, that he's healthy, there's nothing wrong with his body, the pain that he was experiencing was a matter of ergonomics, not a matter of life or death. And, believe it or not, once the subconscious has taken in those messages, the anxiety goes away.
If you or anybody you know is suffering with health anxiety, reach out to me! I would love to help you out