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Avatar universal

Anxiety due to "uncertainty" of a medical condition vs hypochondriasis.

Hi all,

I have been reading a lot of posts in here & I found in many cases that I'm not alone that my anxiety was introduced by the mystery of what exactly is wrong with me & if it is a killer disease that I have or not, since it took my drs a bit of time to diagnose me correctly.

I don't know if I'm qualified to diagnose myself or anyone else with hypochondriasis (obsession in one's health).

I see that any normal person has the right to be anxious if they see that they have a disabling symptoms that are unexplainable. sometimes or at least in my case it took me 3 months to find out what is wrong & to be honest what I have as answers are still "theories" & defenite answer to what exactly is wrong with me, practically whatever is unexplainable clincally is always blammed on anxiety/stress.

I would like to hear from anyone that actually felt anxiety symptoms disappear or decrease once they know they were ok or know reason behind their illness or actually found that there's nothing wrong with them.

I done some research & found that hypochondriasis could only be diagnosed if someone has the health anxiety for more than 6 months period.

I think that any normal person without any mental illness will feel the same way about their health if they keep getting sicker & they have more symptoms everyday WITHOUT an explanation or a medical reason for their symptoms.

would like to see if anyone walked that road before.

My theory that I've been thinking about, that uncertaintity of any illness could get a normal thinking person to be anxious for a long period of time & anxiety symptoms lasts even after diagnosis was done because stress levels were already elevated.

does anyone agree with me.


13 Responses
Avatar universal
Exactly what I think also. I have to constantly remind myself that this ball of medical symptoms started rolling after my anxiety. It is unbelievable.  
Avatar universal
I guess that is where I would seperate myself. I had physical symptoms of the digestive systems that they can't seem to link to anxiety - before I had anxiety attacks.

The anxiety on-set was after these physical symptoms became prominent enough that they made be start to think I might be seriously ill.

Avatar universal
i think you're right definitely, but there are also those who were hypochondriacs before having anxiety/panic attacks (myself included).  but then again, after i realized that i have GAD i looked back on my whole life and realized i did have it my whole life.  so maybe i wasn't a hypochondriac first.  it seems like it's impossible to be a hypochondriac without having anxiety, but it is possible to have anxiety & not be a hypochondriac.  idk my anxiety is all health related so i've always pretty much considered my hypochondriasis & anxiety basically the same thing in my case.
165308 tn?1323190145
What happened to me is when I found out that I did not have the disease that I thought I had, I then "moved on" to a different disease!!!  My anxiety did not go away...I was always panicking that I had something....It is truly crazy what the mind can do....My meds definitely helped with my anxiety and my hypochondria....I have more of an agoraphobic thing going on now...(don't want to leave the house unless I have to...but I do it anyway, and I fight it all the time)..and I realized like one of the posters said, that it is something I had way before my anxiety problems but never truly realized it!!!!
200828 tn?1209921575
First of all, let me say I think you raise an extremely interesting subject.  I have been thinking a lot about this too.

Last October I experienced difficulty swallowing.  I knew nothing about anxiety disorders.  I have always been somewhat of a hypochondriac but it never got out of control until last summer.  I had a health scare.  Anyway, I saw a therapist and she explained what anxiety disorders were and that my difficulty swallowing was due to anxiety but I didn't believe her.  Ultimately I got an endoscopy.  I didn't want a swallow study because I was fearful of the amount of radiation I was getting at the time.  It wasn't until after my endoscopy was done and researching on the internet, that I finally accepted that my difficulty swallowing was due to anxiety and without me really realizing, my swallowing got better.  I don't suffer from it anymore.  However, my latest symptom now is shortness of breath.  

I saw a psych this past week and I asked him, "other people have health scares but why do we all react differently?"  He said that it depends what we bring to the table, i.e. genetics, personal experiences, what have you.  For me, he thinks it might be genetics because my fear of disease goes way back to childhood.  Since I was a child I remember being scared of getting cancer because I would hear my older siblings talking about it.  I probably didn't even know exactly what cancer was back then!  The death of my father when I was  17, of cancer, did not help at all.

Everytime I got a symptom in the past, I would go rushing to the doctor.  After my health scare last summer, I have developed this tremendous fear of going to the doctor because I am so scared they are gonna find something.  However, if I don't go to the doctor and go through with the tests, I'll never know what's wrong with me and my anxiety will get worse and create more physical symptoms.  It's like a double edged sword.  I just got a chest x-ray last week.  It took me over a month to build up the courage to get it done.  I was so terrified of the results.  I could go on and on about this subject but I won't bore you anymore.

This is a great topic!

P.S. Yes, I agree that if a person goes undiagnosed for a long period of time, no matter their state of mind, it can create a tremendous amount of stress which can lead to an anxiety disorder.  Everyone except maybe my husband, he is the calmest person you will ever meet, trust me...  
Avatar universal
I had an out of the blue panic attack in Nov 05.  I didn't know what it was and was convinced I was having a heart attack.  I have been checked, rechecked and RE-rechecked and my heart checks out fine.  If my anxiety (which I NEVER had before) was because of my fixation that something was wrong with my heart, then the reassurance that my heart is fine should have been enough to get rid of the anxiety.  It should be gone.  That should have been my "trigger".  I always hear that if you identify the trigger, you control the anxiety.  That isn't working for me.

My heart checks out fine, but the anxiety still lingers on.  And if anything, is getting worse.  Oh yeah, I still have the chest discomfort too.

Raine9:  lol, my husband is mellow too.  I guess that is good for us since we are dealing with all this right now!!!
Avatar universal
Hi guys, I guess from all the posts the actual line between hypochondriasis & an ACUTE anxiety is whether the worry about one's health is consistent, was always there or was it introduced by an occasion.

For me, I see the whole idea as being the same issue, looking at end results, both long term hypochondriasis & acute short term health anxiety due to say a weird health experience will face the same symptoms, most likely as well to be for the same period & treatment for both is practically the same. pls correct me if I'm wrong.

Now, the interesting part is that anxiety (without knowledge of it & its symptoms) may turn a normal person to be hypochondriac as they'll see themselves get worse & see increased symptoms every day without knowing what's happening to them & without knowledge that its THEM who are actually doing that to themselves.

I find my drs to be pethetic in addressing the anxiety issues I was bringing myself into during my 3 months mysery. I found normal clincal drs to be more concerned about clinical issues, leaving us, the patients, hanging in thoughts that will make us worse even after all symptoms are gone. They should prevent us from going further by giving us education about anxiety.

I don't mean that general practinioners should by psychiatrists but I think they should consider helping normal people who come with unexplainable symptoms specially if it will take long time with an automatic "explanation" or precaution to not drive ourselves into anxiety in the process.

Now, anyone had any symptoms that actually WENT after diagnosis was made & was even cleared or diagnosed with an illness?

In cancer patients, they consider a period of up to 6 week ONLY for the person to be extremely anxious or worried, anything beyond 6 weeks is considered to be chronic anxiety.

Now from above example, anxiety is actually then an introduced illness to a mentally average person. if that was the case, then early treatment & understanding to anxiety MUST be given to patients along with thier research of their illness or straight after diagnosis of a hard illness.

187799 tn?1219613173
I don't know t hat I'd go so far as to say we are hypo's.  Anxiety itself brings on a myriad of physical symptoms and each one should be medically checked. Who's to say I don't actually have cancer (which was my latest health scare, but there was enough regular medical problems to warrant the concern). The women on the ovca forum explain the exact symptoms I had/have; some are o.k. and the issues are benign, but require medical assistance; some end up with late-stage ovca after chasing doctors for so long to take their symptoms seriously.

So now that one of the best gyno/oncos in the country concluded that I have minor endo and it should not cause all my back/groin/hip pain (as other women attest to as well on the ovca forum), I have resigned myself to the fact that yes, my endo/cysts do cause me pain, but it is nothing life-threatening.  However, because my symptoms appeared gradually over the course of a year and topped out in December of '06, I had to seek medical advice/treatment.  It is still in the back of my mind, though, since I still read the posts on that forum and I still have most of the symptoms that the other women have. I just don't take myself so seriously with this anymore, I guess.

On the other hand, I am under such unbelievable stress for the past year, I'm surprised I'm not in the looney home by now!  Can't wait for this facet of my life to pass!

So, I don't think we're hypos; I think/KNOW anxiety brings on a host of physical ailments.  I know, for me, taking the zoloft has helped tremendously to lesson my health concerns as I wouldn't have waited a year after the onset of my latest symptoms before going to the doctor.  That med just triggers the hormones/tonins that are unbalanced in my system and does a wonderful job.

Sorry so long; but this is a very, very interesting topic for anxiety sufferers and we should open a new thread, maybe, to continue our discussion?

Best to all.........
200828 tn?1209921575
Some of us are hypos in the sense that we worry about every little symptom.  We need it checked out or we can't have peace of mind.  Yes some symptoms may turn out to be actual diseases and that is the scariest part.  But some like myself overworry before the doctor says that there is anything wrong.  I am so terrified that I am going to be diagnosed with something.  My friends and my husband are so laid back, they don't worry about a thing.  The doctor can find something suspicious in a test and they can be suffering from a bunch of symptoms but they have such a laid back attitude, they just think.."ah it's probably nothing".  People suffering from anxiety don't think that way.  They think of all the worst case scenarios and that's what makes us hypochondriacs.
187799 tn?1219613173
Yes, you're right.  I was that way my entire life - ask my parents (and husband)!  I'm just saying that I believe the zoloft has helped with that in me where I am more laid back and don't think the worst or don't run to the doctor so often for symptoms. I do fall off the wagon, though (usually around my cycle) and am convinced (as I said) that I have something more serious than just endo and cysts. The women on that forum listened to me and had exact symptoms as me so I just still don't know. They suggested I keep pursuing my instincts which no one has ever told me to do before.  They were/are wonderful, caring  women (and some men).

I guess I just don't like the word "hypochondriac" since I associate it with my early adolescence/early adulthood when people would just tell me - Oh, God, what is wrong with you now? I am so much stronger now thanks to therapy and meds.

Avatar universal
Along the same line, I was one of those who were EXTREMELY laid back about any physical symptoms I see. I would be worried about say a problem I have but never to the extent that I would see a doctor, they come & go & that's it.

I had health insurance for 5 years & I lost my wallet with the card around 4.5 years ago & never bothered to get another one until my symptoms started 3 months ago.

I used to worry from time to time about many things in life, never that my worry ever overtook my life or paralysed it as my sickness worry is doing to me now.

Last results I got from my dr says that my liver is almost back to normal after Hep A & that it will take another 1-2 months to fully recover or find out if anything else is going on!! which obviously opens a brand new wave of thoughts of what else could be there for me.

the only difference why I think that I'm not panicking a lot now or like before is that i realised that NONE of my current symptoms could be related to my liver issue while all of them are related to anxiety....it gives me a bit of relief but since i have no control over my body's chemicals, I would just say that I need to relax & no need to worry about anything & it will go away by itself.

DOES IS IT EVER GO AWAY BY ITSELF??? I guess that is the question that i need answer for :)


200828 tn?1209921575
I read a lot about ovarian cancer and yes it is a very scary disease.  The symptoms are extremely vague and subtle.  They usually go ignored by many women and their doctors.  I read the autobiography on Gilda Radner who died of ovarian cancer.  She felt tired and just not right for the longest time.  She was diagnosed with everything from Epstien Barr's disease to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  When they finally figured out what was wrong with her, it was too late. There is some blood test that you can take, I forget what it's called.  (You can probably ask your doctor about it or Google it.)  This blood test is supposed to "aid" doctors in diagnosing the disease but it is not 100%.  You should continue pursuing your instincts, I agree.  I don't want to alarm you but I knew someone who passed away a little more than 2 years ago of nasal cancer.  She was misdiagnosed.  I don't want that to happen to you or anyone!!  I'm lucky in that my gyno is very knowledgable and he listens to me.  Whatever test I want him to do, he'll do it regardless of whether he feels it is necessary or not.  He is ranked in Consumer Reports top 200 doctors in the nation!

Anyway, I plan on going on Paxil next week, , maybe it will help me be more laid back the way Zoloft has helped you.

BTW: Just a little bit of info, I read on the Harvard Medical Website that tubal ligation can reduce a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer.  I plan on having this done not to reduce my risk but because I don't want anymore babies! Two is already stressing me out!!

Have a good weekend and best of health to you and everyone!!  
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