Health Anxiety

I was looking up some information about the stomach virus Van and I caught back in December on google. I came across one page that in addition to dietary tips for battling diarrhea also had in-your-face links to “symptoms of diverticulitis” and “5 signs you’ll get cancer”. I’m not a jump-to-the-worst-case-scenario type of person, so I quickly scrolled past them and returned to whatever else I was doing at the time. And then I thought about Willy and they popped back in my head. 
Willy suffers from health anxiety. He is my polar opposite in that he is the jump-to-the-worst-case-scenario kinda person. I suppose we balance each other in that sense.  
I’ve had many of pregnant friends who have come to me to confess to their worried-filled google searches too. I too have been guilty of googling things that caused me unnecessary worry or concern when growing a human as well; and I’m totally healthy when it comes to anxiety.
None of the google searches ever seem to lead to anything good. It makes me wonder if too much information can be damaging. It also makes me mad that I can’t look up something as simple as foods to give my infant when he’s having diarrhea without being encouraged to learn if I have any of the 5 signs I’ll get cancer. Even in my moment of reflection at the present time I’m wondering what those signs were and if indeed I have any of them.
I’m a worry-about-it-when-it-happens kinda person, but many people aren’t. Many, like Willy, struggle daily with health-related fears. And in our lets-play-doctor-and-diagnose-ourselves-via-google frenzied world, it’s a real issue. 
Willy’s worked hard to combat his anxiety. After years of suffering, he’s finally found the strength to get help and it’s something I admire deeply about him. I think a lot of people are okay with the idea of going to therapy for others but are uncomfortable with the thought when the suggestion is made personal to them.
Do you suffer from anxiety? How does it affect your life? Are you guilty of ridiculous google searches?

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9 Responses

  • I am definitely guilty of panicky Google searches wherein I wonder if I’ve got something much worse than I actually have, or worse that something is wrong with the kids. My husband has banned me from WebMD. While we joke about it, I’ve come to realize that I do worry a lot more than I should and become anxious far more than I used to. I worry when I see my husband drive away to take the kids to day care and imagine worst-case scenarios on a daily basis. It’s hard to overcome anxiety, and clearly it’s something I still need to work on. I agree, though… I think sometimes there is too much information available at our fingertips. You type in something simple and suddenly a dozen links pop up linking your symptom to something dire and awful. It’s no wonder so many people deal with anxiety when there’s so much doom and gloom in the media.

  • Oh anxiety, my old friend. I once drove an hour and a half to make sure I turned a curling iron off. I had. And I knew I had. I just couldn’t NOT turn around and check, for fear my house would burn to the ground with my dog in it all because I didn’t go back.

    That was when I decided to get help for my anxiety. Meditation, healthy eating and exercise combined with medication and therapy have improved my life exponentially. I hope your husband has a good experience with whatever he chooses to remedy his situation.

    ps, BRAT diet for diarrhea (Banana, rice, applesauce, toast).

  • Wellll, as much as I have general anxiety, I do NOT have health anxiety. And I don’t do many Google searches about health issues. Google is dangerous! As you know, what’s helped my anxiety IMMENSELY is a low-dose antidepressant and exercise. I still have my days though… Willy’s thing may be Google searches; mine is different. There is always that itch that feels like it needs to be scratched, but there are ways to make the itch less bothersome.

  • Health anxiety sufferer here. Straight up. This years flu? Better believe it’s all over my google searches. How many deaths – how can I map it – in how many miles from me has the latest outbreak been recorded? And my son hasn’t been sick at all. Not even once this winter. Just the other night I found an interesting article about mental health and my husband suffers from a pretty severe diagnosis. For some unknown reason I went googling the genetic link of mental health disorders, the percentage possibility of passing it on, stories about children who were diagnosed, yadayadayada. My son is one. ONE!

  • it took me 31 years to get help. it took a while to find a good therapist, but when i did it changed my life. i didn’t understand that it was not my fault that i couldn’t control it, that it’s not being dramatic or “glass is half empty.” bravo you guys, it’s really a life long battle.

  • I purposely try not to look up symptoms when I’m sick because I know it will only get my mind spinning with worry. I already have enough worry that keeps me up at night, sure don’t need another thing to keep me from getting any rest. It sounds like we had the same thing in this household-last week demolished us-and I never get sick!

  • It’s all fun and games until someone pulls the google search up. I’m a worrier to a fault so I can sympathize with Willy 100%. I agree with Heather — sometimes, there’s just too much information out there. Something I’m learning how to deal with as well…

  • What a good post.

    I have an anxiety disorder. It’s not as bad as it used to be, but I’ve always been a hypochondriac, and really afraid of things I know are irrational. A few years ago, I took an english class in college. The first story we had to read was from a book of short stories; about a woman who died of Lou Gehrig’s disease. After reading it, I became very depressed, and literally just cried non-stop. Roman was just about 6 months old, and I was convinced that I was going to die of this disease, and couldn’t stop reading about it online, and was trying to think, who would take care of Roman, what could I leave him to remember me, all these horrible things. After 3-4 days of this sort of panic, depressive state, I finally told Ryan what was wrong and just saying it out loud to someone who HAD a rational mind made me feel better. I had a lot of situations similar to this, some I talked about, others I didn’t but did get over after a time. I went to therapy for a short time, and it was okay. Not good or bad, but I can live happily without it.

    The worst thing about anxiety is letting it just be stuck in your mind. Your mind creates it, so your mind can let it grow. My anxiety is a lot better than it used to be, because I’m really aware of it. When I feel anxious, I let my mind takeover and not my feelings. Outside of anxiety, I tend to think with my feelings, not my mind.

    I don’t know if you have ever heard of her, or what your thoughts are on the topic surrounding this, but there is a woman named Anita Moorjani. She suffered from lymphoma for four years died of lymphoma, had a near death experience, came back to life and was miraculously healed after 5 weeks of no treatment. She does a lot of interviews and wrote a book of her experience.

    In one part Anita talks about when she was sick and how her awareness affected her illness so much. At one point she became really obsessed with reading things about cancer, and surrounding herself with it because she so badly wanted to get better or find a miracle cure, but in her NDE she came to find this made her worse. She also notes that your overall state is SO affected by your awareness. She gives the example of “Breast Cancer Awareness” saying, “why do we have this?! Why would you want to be aware of breast cancer? Why can’t, instead, we have Health Awareness, or Healing Awareness” ?

    Anyway, didn’t mean for this to get so long!

    • Willy is the same way. He has a friend who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He spent some time after that reading up on it and worrying if he too would get it one day. It’s funny because I was worried about something home related the other day and he told me not to worry about it until it was a reality. It sounded so funny coming from him. His irrational worries are only health related. It’s funny the way the mind works. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and a bit of your experience. I appreciate it and wish you well.


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