Therapy can provide a space to explore anxiety around your health
WHAT IS HEALTH ANXIETY?
If you are generally anxious about your health, you may experience many of the symptoms associated with anxiety such as increased heart rate, dry mouth, an adrenaline rush making you feel as if you would like to run away. You may even feel angry with yourself and the situation.
This is the autonomic nervous system that evolved within us, swinging into action to alert you to a possible threat. In our ancient past, this would have been a predator or some other form of danger. In the course of normal life, the threats we experience are usually not life-threatening but our brains and bodies still behave as if they could be in order to protect us.
That said, you may have experienced a health issue in the past that has given you cause to be anxious about your current and future health status. Or you may worry that a serious health issue that might have affected a friend or family member could also happen to you.
Certainly, since the pandemic struck in 2020, we as a species have been forced to become more aware of our fragility in the face of viruses and other pathogens. Therapy can provide a space where health anxieties can be explored and worked with.
Techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be helpful for many people in helping to establish what tends to provoke the thoughts and feelings around health anxiety and how you tend to behave when those thoughts and feelings are operating. Additionally, what you believe about yourself, your health and the world more generally in those moments and how you can work with your therapist to learn to question and modify unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that make you feel anxious.
HOW CAN EXISTENTIAL THERAPY HELP?
Existential forms of therapy can help those experiencing health anxiety symptoms. These forms of therapy help us to examine our place in the wider realms of existence. Being alive is fraught with anxiety: some people approach this universal anxiety by adopting an “I can do what I like and damn the consequences” attitude - sometimes called a “manic defence”.
“Much of therapy is about helping another person to return to a position of openness to themselves, to the world, to others and to life itself.”
(van Deurzen & Adams, 2011, p. 69).
It is important to remember that embedded in much that is interpreted as anxiety is a feeling of existential “isolation” or feeling disconnected from others.
This could be why many of us find ourselves worrying about things in the middle of the night: the time when we perhaps feel most alone. Working with a therapist can help to lessen this feeling of alone-ness with health anxiety or indeed any other form of anxiety and assist the person in returning to “a position of openness” of everything life has to offer.
HOW MUCH DOES COUNSELLING FOR HEALTH ANXIETY COST?
Therapy lasts for 50 minutes and tends to cost between £50 and £60 for individual sessions and £75 for couples.
Counselling is most effective when conducted weekly for as long as feels helpful and productive. Your therapist will agree with you on the number of sessions that are likely to prove most effective but normally 6 sessions would be the optimal number for achieving lasting and sustainable results. The first initial session is free.
Click on the link below to book a 30-minute free consultation to see if we are a good fit to successfully work together.