Health anxiety: Help for the well-but-worried

Internet sites and online message boards are buzzing with people who despairingly refuse to believe they are well even though a physician has given them a clean bill of health. There’s Jimmy, for example, who confessed: “I have no reason to believe I have a particular ailment, and against all reason and logic I just feel like I have it.” 

He knows about health anxiety (also called hypochondria) but his medical diagnosis hasn’t helped. Jimmy is still haunted by what-ifs and panic attacks. He ends his comments: “I have no symptoms or risk factors, just an irrational fear that I can’t control.”

He’s not alone. There are millions of people who are inundated with alarming health information—ads and programs that tell of danger signals to watch for and reasons why they’re at risk—and they’re reaching for the panic button. People have felt at risk for centuries apparently. Remember Job, who, in biblical times, said: “The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me” (3:25).

Love casts out demons
October 29, 2012

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