June 26, 2023

All About Health Anxiety

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on health anxiety, a condition that affects individuals' mental well-being. In this article, we will explore the definition and significance of health anxiety, discuss its physical symptoms, provide strategies to cope with it and highlight the best treatment options available. If you're a Canadian seeking support for health anxiety, we'll also introduce you to Archways, a private psychology clinic dedicated to evidence-based therapies like cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) to help individuals improve their lives.

I. What is Health Anxiety?

Health anxiety, also known as illness anxiety disorder or hypochondria, is a condition characterized by excessive worry and fear about having a serious medical condition, despite minimal or no evidence to support it. People with health anxiety often experience significant distress and preoccupation with their physical health, which can significantly impact their daily lives.

Read More: What is Anxiety and What Can You Do About It?

II. Physical Symptoms of Health Anxiety

Individuals with health anxiety may experience a wide range of physical symptoms that can mimic those of actual medical conditions. It's important to note that these symptoms are not imagined but are rather a manifestation of the heightened stress and anxiety levels experienced by individuals with health anxiety. Some common physical symptoms associated with health anxiety include:

  1. Palpitations: People with health anxiety may feel their heart racing or pounding, often due to increased adrenaline levels triggered by anxiety.
  2. Shortness of Breath: Anxiety can cause individuals to feel breathless or have difficulty breathing, often due to hyperventilation or rapid, shallow breathing.
  3. Muscle Tension: Muscle tension and stiffness, particularly in the neck, shoulders, and back, can occur as a result of heightened stress and anxiety levels.
  4. Headaches: Frequent tension headaches or migraines can be experienced by individuals with health anxiety, which may be triggered or worsened by stress.
  5. Gastrointestinal Discomfort: Symptoms like stomach aches, nausea, bloating, or changes in bowel movements (diarrhea or constipation) can arise due to the gut-brain connection and the impact of anxiety on the digestive system.
  6. Dizziness or lightheadedness: Feeling dizzy or lightheaded may occur during moments of heightened anxiety, often due to hyperventilation or changes in blood flow.
  7. Sweating: Excessive sweating, particularly in the palms or underarms, can be a physical manifestation of anxiety and stress.
  8. Fatigue: Individuals with health anxiety may experience persistent fatigue or exhaustion, as anxiety can disrupt sleep patterns and increase mental and physical strain.
health anxiety

It's important to remember that experiencing these symptoms does not necessarily mean there is an underlying medical condition. However, if you are concerned about your symptoms or their impact on your daily life, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance.

By recognizing these physical symptoms and understanding their association with health anxiety, individuals can gain a better understanding of their condition and work towards effective strategies for managing and alleviating their anxiety.

Read More: The Benefits of Yoga and Meditation for Anxiety

III. How to Deal with Health Anxiety

Here are some strategies to help individuals deal with health anxiety:

Educate Yourself

Gaining knowledge about health anxiety and its symptoms is a crucial first step in managing the condition. By understanding that anxiety-related thoughts are often exaggerated and not based on actual medical evidence, individuals can start rationalizing their fears and reducing anxiety levels.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is widely recognized as an effective treatment for health anxiety. This therapeutic approach focuses on identifying and challenging irrational thoughts, and replacing them with more realistic and positive thinking patterns. CBT also incorporates behavioural techniques to gradually expose individuals to their fears and reduce avoidance behaviors. Working with a trained therapist who specializes in CBT can provide valuable guidance and support in managing health anxiety.

Relaxation Techniques

Incorporating relaxation techniques into daily life can help alleviate anxiety symptoms and promote overall well-being. Deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation are effective practices that can help calm the mind and body. These techniques can be learned through self-help resources or by attending relaxation training sessions.

Read More:

The Healing Power of Music Therapy

The Benefits of Yoga and Meditation for Anxiety

The Benefits of Good Sleep Habits for Managing Anxiety

Seeking Support

It is essential to reach out to mental health professionals, such as psychologists or therapists, who specialize in anxiety disorders, including health anxiety. They can provide evidence-based interventions and help develop personalized coping strategies tailored to individual needs. Support groups or online communities can also offer a sense of understanding, validation, and connection with others who have similar experiences.

Remember, everyone's journey with health anxiety is unique, and finding the right combination of strategies and support may take time. It's important to be patient with yourself and seek professional guidance when needed.

IV. The Best Medication for Health Anxiety

When it comes to medication for health anxiety, it is essential to consult a qualified healthcare professional, such as a psychiatrist or a primary care physician. They can assess the severity of symptoms and recommend appropriate medications if necessary. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are commonly prescribed medications for anxiety disorders, including health anxiety. However, the decision to use medication should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider, considering individual circumstances and potential risks.

V. Archways: Supporting Canadians with Evidence-Based Therapy

Archways is a leading private psychology clinic in Canada dedicated to using evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), to help individuals improve their lives. With a team of experienced psychologists, Archways offers specialized services for adults, adolescents, and children facing mental health challenges, including health anxiety. Through personalized treatment plans, Archways strives to empower individuals to overcome their anxiety and lead fulfilling lives.


Health anxiety can significantly impact an individual's well-being, but with the right knowledge, coping strategies, and professional support, it is possible to manage and overcome it. Remember, you don't have to face health anxiety alone. Archways and other mental health resources in Canada are available to support you on your journey to improved mental well-being. Reach out for help and take the first step towards a healthier, anxiety-free life.

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