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Just saying Hi

Missy

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Hi,
I have had health anxiety since the age of 7. I experienced two traumatic hospitalizations, one for a tonsillectomy and one for pneumonia. I also witnessed my grandfather take a stroke in front of me at the age of 5 and die. My upbrining was very chaotic. In terms of what causes health anxiety or the old term, hypochondria, there are many theories. It is definitely classifed as an anxiety disorder in the psychiatric world, but childhood trauma or some type of deprivation in parenting has also been linked to it.
BTW, I am a nurse who has worked in the mental health field for most of my 40 year career. Medication helps somewhat, I am on Luvox now but have tried all the SSRI's. I avoid doctors at all costs- just check in once a year with my primary since I need refills on meds. I also see a psychiatrist for the psych meds. I skip mammograms, colonsocopies etc.
How do I cope? I would avoid googling at all costs. Nothing but trouble. My faith helps somewhat. The reality is, if it is somethiing bad, it will get worse and also most people only get one fatal disease in a lifetime.
I would also explore the concept of death anxiety as it underlies all of our preoccupations. It is the human condition. My husband who has been through major heart surgery was not even anxious the day he went in for surgery. He just felt like it was something that needed to be taken care of and whatever happened was out of his control.
A great book that may still be availabe on Amazon is : "Worried Sick? The Exaggerated Fear of Physical Illness" by Frederic Neuman MD. The author is a psychiatrist who himself has suffered from hypochondria. Very helpful.
Just a question, is it difficult for you as a nurse with your anxiety?
 

Adele62

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Both actually. I never worry about the run of the mill stuff. I will tell you generally when something is serious, the disease process is not as silent as you think. Symptoms tend to be very persisitent and get worse over time. Also the body is very noisy, kind of like an old car at times. Focusing on all the noise makes anxiety so much worse. People are not aware of just how rare some things are. You hear about a celebrity or friend with a terrible disease and bingo, you have it too! I think certain meds can be very helpful as health anxiety is closely related to OCD. Our brains just do not function like a "normal" person, so we have a hard time shrugging things off. If you think about it, the average person today knows so many more people than in the past. So when you hear about a disease, you think it is more common than it actually is. Ignorance can actually be bliss.
As of the fear of doctor's, a good book to read is "Less Medicine, More Health" by H. Gilbert Welch MD. He makes the case that much of what we do today is overtreat illness that in some cases would have resolved on its own. The former president of the American Medical Association once made the statement that most illness gets better without medical intervention. I think it's best to visit a primary care doc once a year but to question any test that are ordered as some may have little or know value. This is especially true with some cancer screening.
 

MrsH

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Thank you, @Adele62 ! No idea where my fear comes from. But I remember one time when I was 5, my parents thought I might have measles, that they thought they should take me to my Dr for confirmation. I absolutely flipped out and screamed. Why?? How did I know what measles was? No idea. lol. Btw, I didn’t have measles.
 

MATD

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Thank you, @Adele62 ! No idea where my fear comes from. But I remember one time when I was 5, my parents thought I might have measles, that they thought they should take me to my Dr for confirmation. I absolutely flipped out and screamed. Why?? How did I know what measles was? No idea. lol. Btw, I didn’t have measles.
Children often have fear. Then, if our parents were wise, they helped us gain confidence to over come those fears. They talked us through them, encouraged us, nurtured us. Unwise parents sometimes coddle these children, allowing them to run away from the fear without encouraging the child to face their fears. As I mentioned in another post, it doesn’t necessarily require a traumatic event or obvious abuse to develop anxiety. Parents aren’t perfect and it’s obvious from the numerous posts. Even the best intentions of our parents may not have been enough. They learned through their own parents. It’s generational, passing on learned traits by example, inherited personality traits, and probably other factors as well. I admit that understanding why we have anxiety has merit, but the bigger picture is to acknowledge the anxiety and take the necessary steps toward recovery.
 

MrsH

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Children often have fear. Then, if our parents were wise, they helped us gain confidence to over come those fears. They talked us through them, encouraged us, nurtured us. Unwise parents sometimes coddle these children, allowing them to run away from the fear without encouraging the child to face their fears. As I mentioned in another post, it doesn’t necessarily require a traumatic event or obvious abuse to develop anxiety. Parents aren’t perfect and it’s obvious from the numerous posts. Even the best intentions of our parents may not have been enough. They learned through their own parents. It’s generational, passing on learned traits by example, inherited personality traits, and probably other factors as well. I admit that understanding why we have anxiety has merit, but the bigger picture is to acknowledge the anxiety and take the necessary steps toward recovery.
Agree!! I don’t really care how or why I got it, I just want to cure myself.
 

Sweet T

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Both actually. I never worry about the run of the mill stuff. I will tell you generally when something is serious, the disease process is not as silent as you think. Symptoms tend to be very persisitent and get worse over time. Also the body is very noisy, kind of like an old car at times. Focusing on all the noise makes anxiety so much worse. People are not aware of just how rare some things are. You hear about a celebrity or friend with a terrible disease and bingo, you have it too! I think certain meds can be very helpful as health anxiety is closely related to OCD. Our brains just do not function like a "normal" person, so we have a hard time shrugging things off. If you think about it, the average person today knows so many more people than in the past. So when you hear about a disease, you think it is more common than it actually is. Ignorance can actually be bliss.
As of the fear of doctor's, a good book to read is "Less Medicine, More Health" by H. Gilbert Welch MD. He makes the case that much of what we do today is overtreat illness that in some cases would have resolved on its own. The former president of the American Medical Association once made the statement that most illness gets better without medical intervention. I think it's best to visit a primary care doc once a year but to question any test that are ordered as some may have little or know value. This is especially true with some cancer screening.
I really appreciate this perspective. My good friend who is a nurse doesn’t get mammograms or annual physicals. She said there is no proof they extend a person’s life. And there is a chance that treatment could harm you. Everyone has to make their own choice so it’s good to hear your perspective. Ty
 

MrsH

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@Sweet T this is amazing to me. Hearing about med professionals who don’t get check ups or screenings!
 

suzzeeb

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Hi,
I have had health anxiety since the age of 7. I experienced two traumatic hospitalizations, one for a tonsillectomy and one for pneumonia. I also witnessed my grandfather take a stroke in front of me at the age of 5 and die. My upbrining was very chaotic. In terms of what causes health anxiety or the old term, hypochondria, there are many theories. It is definitely classifed as an anxiety disorder in the psychiatric world, but childhood trauma or some type of deprivation in parenting has also been linked to it.
BTW, I am a nurse who has worked in the mental health field for most of my 40 year career. Medication helps somewhat, I am on Luvox now but have tried all the SSRI's. I avoid doctors at all costs- just check in once a year with my primary since I need refills on meds. I also see a psychiatrist for the psych meds. I skip mammograms, colonsocopies etc.
How do I cope? I would avoid googling at all costs. Nothing but trouble. My faith helps somewhat. The reality is, if it is somethiing bad, it will get worse and also most people only get one fatal disease in a lifetime.
I would also explore the concept of death anxiety as it underlies all of our preoccupations. It is the human condition. My husband who has been through major heart surgery was not even anxious the day he went in for surgery. He just felt like it was something that needed to be taken care of and whatever happened was out of his control.
A great book that may still be availabe on Amazon is : "Worried Sick? The Exaggerated Fear of Physical Illness" by Frederic Neuman MD. The author is a psychiatrist who himself has suffered from hypochondria. Very helpful.
I have health anxiety and GAD and have for most of my life looking back. Everyone experiences it differently. I have a family history of colon cancer, and I know that it is preventable if caught early so I have had many colonoscopies and would never skip them since they are fairly simple and one of the few cancers that can be caught early and treated very successfully. I have had many polyps removed that would possibly turn cancerous if they didn't remove them, so I am grateful to have gotten them out. I also don't skip my mammogram because I would worry more wondering if there was something going on that could possibly be treated while there was a chance of curing it.

My faith also helps somewhat. I would love to say I just give it to God and not worry, but I haven't been able to do that successfully and still struggle. There is no easy answer for this, unfortunately.
 

MrsH

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Ah yes. It’s impossible for me to avoid any medical professionals altogether. I’m on thyroid, bp meds and Celexa. I have to at the very least get labs once a year.
 

PieFan

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I really appreciate this perspective. My good friend who is a nurse doesn’t get mammograms or annual physicals. She said there is no proof they extend a person’s life. And there is a chance that treatment could harm you. Everyone has to make their own choice so it’s good to hear your perspective. Ty
I get exhausted with medicine in the US, it's sugar-coated and marketed to us, one thing after another after another. When I had chronic pain, caused by taking statins I never asked for, but was pushed to take, I was offered various meds and surgical options and I heard a lot from other people about how they manage their chronic pain. Some people had had quite drastic surgeries and frequently when I asked 'so it's better now?' no was a common answer. At the same time I had a friend who had chronic pain but a lot more money than me. She became addicted to pain patches and almost overdosed herself a couple of times. And her pain was worse, too, or felt worse to her.

I decided that I should do my own research and make my own decisions, since I have to live with the consequences. When I got a serious diabetic foot condition there was not a whole lot of mainstream info so then I had to dig into medical and university research papers. That lead to me starting a Health Science degree later, when the pandemic halted my work (I'm half way through now!) I butt heads with doctors all the time because they get annoyed I won't spend more money, and am cynical about excessive intervention and their insincerity, but I don't care. It's my life, my body, my money.

I don't have mammograms or smear tests now either. It's enough managing the things I already do, and as @suzzeeb says, my faith helps too. In truth I'm healthier than ever overall and definitely happier. When it's time to die I'll have lived enough so that I'm ready, but until then I'll try to live with joy and peace, despite Anxiety Disorder and any other health challenges! I treat my BP and diabetes, I'm trying a reservatrol supplement right now to reduce inflammation, and after months of dealing with respiratory issues. Medicine is just part of my holistic health care, and that feels right for me.
 

MrsH

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I get exhausted with medicine in the US, it's sugar-coated and marketed to us, one thing after another after another. When I had chronic pain, caused by taking statins I never asked for, but was pushed to take, I was offered various meds and surgical options and I heard a lot from other people about how they manage their chronic pain. Some people had had quite drastic surgeries and frequently when I asked 'so it's better now?' no was a common answer. At the same time I had a friend who had chronic pain but a lot more money than me. She became addicted to pain patches and almost overdosed herself a couple of times. And her pain was worse, too, or felt worse to her.

I decided that I should do my own research and make my own decisions, since I have to live with the consequences. When I got a serious diabetic foot condition there was not a whole lot of mainstream info so then I had to dig into medical and university research papers. That lead to me starting a Health Science degree later, when the pandemic halted my work (I'm half way through now!) I butt heads with doctors all the time because they get annoyed I won't spend more money, and am cynical about excessive intervention and their insincerity, but I don't care. It's my life, my body, my money.

I don't have mammograms or smear tests now either. It's enough managing the things I already do, and as @suzzeeb says, my faith helps too. In truth I'm healthier than ever overall and definitely happier. When it's time to die I'll have lived enough so that I'm ready, but until then I'll try to live with joy and peace, despite Anxiety Disorder and any other health challenges! I treat my BP and diabetes, I'm trying a reservatrol supplement right now to reduce inflammation, and after months of dealing with respiratory issues. Medicine is just part of my holistic health care, and that feels right for me.
Wow. Good for you for figuring out what works for you and standing by it, that’s awesome!
 

Adele62

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I really appreciate this perspective. My good friend who is a nurse doesn’t get mammograms or annual physicals. She said there is no proof they extend a person’s life. And there is a chance that treatment could harm you. Everyone has to make their own choice so it’s good to hear your perspective. Ty
All true. I believe Sweden stopped doing screening mammograms because there is no proof they prevent deaths.
Ah yes. It’s impossible for me to avoid any medical professionals altogether. I’m on thyroid, bp meds and Celexa. I have to at the very least get labs once a year.
I do the same. Just the bare minimum.
I have health anxiety and GAD and have for most of my life looking back. Everyone experiences it differently. I have a family history of colon cancer, and I know that it is preventable if caught early so I have had many colonoscopies and would never skip them since they are fairly simple and one of the few cancers that can be caught early and treated very successfully. I have had many polyps removed that would possibly turn cancerous if they didn't remove them, so I am grateful to have gotten them out. I also don't skip my mammogram because I would worry more wondering if there was something going on that could possibly be treated while there was a chance of curing it.

My faith also helps somewhat. I would love to say I just give it to God and not worry, but I haven't been able to do that successfully and still struggle. There is no easy answer for this, unfortunately.
I think everyone has to decide what is best for them and I totally agree with you colonoscopy screening due to family history.
 

Cuchculan

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Here in Ireland we had a big scandal about screening after it was outsourced to the US. That meant that Irish tests were sent to the US. That alone sounds dumb. You had hundreds of women given negative results. then the US company contacts the Irish company to let them know that the results should have been positive. That they made a mistake. This story just gets worse. As in how it was ever let happen. They wanted GPs to let these women know the truth. Most GPs said it was not up to them. So about 2 years later a lot of women were finally told their tests were really positive. By this stage it was far too late for most of them. Court cases began. The US company was hit for millions. Irish hospitals hit for millions too. Sadly them came the deaths. Could of all been avoided though. This thing of outsourcing things to a company in the US. It was just stupid. Fact that they gave back so many wrong results. If it was 1 or 2 you might say that happens. Total nightmare. As you can imagine the rules have changed here now. But it took some deaths for those rules to be changed. Lot of mistakes. And medical people not wanting to do their jobs. Total mess.
 

PieFan

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Here in Ireland we had a big scandal about screening after it was outsourced to the US. That meant that Irish tests were sent to the US. That alone sounds dumb. You had hundreds of women given negative results. then the US company contacts the Irish company to let them know that the results should have been positive. That they made a mistake. This story just gets worse. As in how it was ever let happen. They wanted GPs to let these women know the truth. Most GPs said it was not up to them. So about 2 years later a lot of women were finally told their tests were really positive. By this stage it was far too late for most of them. Court cases began. The US company was hit for millions. Irish hospitals hit for millions too. Sadly them came the deaths. Could of all been avoided though. This thing of outsourcing things to a company in the US. It was just stupid. Fact that they gave back so many wrong results. If it was 1 or 2 you might say that happens. Total nightmare. As you can imagine the rules have changed here now. But it took some deaths for those rules to be changed. Lot of mistakes. And medical people not wanting to do their jobs. Total mess.
This is why for-profit medicine does not work. Sure, you get hotel-like hospitals and clinics but profit comes before people and the workers are not connected to their patients or invested in their wellbeing beyond covering themselves for liability (usually, your case is particularly terrible) and maximising the profit from each situation.

I really confuse medics these days when I go in and say 'I don't have much money' from the outset. It would be easier for me to go from dr to dr with a wad of cash and get them to write me prescriptions for amphetamines than to get my primary care dr to write my diabetes meds prescription without undergoing a bunch of unnecessary tests, but in one situation people are making money, the other not.

Gradually it is filtering through to the medical profession here that if you are going to treat medicine as any other commodity then there has to be transparent and competitive pricing and fairness, but there's a doctor shortage and the info/research the drs receive themselves is often drawn up by the pharmaceutical or equipment companies marketing their products. They do now have to note their bias in research papers, but the fact there is bias means buyer beware!
 

Hobbit

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Here in Ireland we had a big scandal about screening after it was outsourced to the US. That meant that Irish tests were sent to the US. That alone sounds dumb. You had hundreds of women given negative results. then the US company contacts the Irish company to let them know that the results should have been positive. That they made a mistake. This story just gets worse. As in how it was ever let happen. They wanted GPs to let these women know the truth. Most GPs said it was not up to them. So about 2 years later a lot of women were finally told their tests were really positive. By this stage it was far too late for most of them. Court cases began. The US company was hit for millions. Irish hospitals hit for millions too. Sadly them came the deaths. Could of all been avoided though. This thing of outsourcing things to a company in the US. It was just stupid. Fact that they gave back so many wrong results. If it was 1 or 2 you might say that happens. Total nightmare. As you can imagine the rules have changed here now. But it took some deaths for those rules to be changed. Lot of mistakes. And medical people not wanting to do their jobs. Total mess.
That is just horrible , can't believe that had happened ! Those poor women , my heart breaks for them and their families . What a mess our health care systems are...everywhere !
 

Marnie

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Ive been a anxious worrier since I was 20 - had a great childhood, no issues and no one else in the family (Im one of 5)
has this anxiety issue other then me. Im 70 now and you're right, now I not "too young" to have whatever. It can be
exhausting and takes the fun out of a lot of things but being grateful for what I have, counting my blessings, helps
 
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