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  • Illness Anxiety Disorder

    Posted by brianna-albers on December 13, 2018 at 7:00 am

    Hi everyone! I’m curious if anyone here has struggled with illness anxiety disorder (hypochondriasis) and if you’d be willing to talk about your experiences. I haven’t officially been diagnosed with it yet, but it’s definitely something I identify with that affects my life in a big way.

    Illness anxiety disorder is characterized by intense fear of having a serious condition that has gone undiagnosed. I first learned about it in one of my psychopathology classes, but over the past few months I’ve seriously started to wonder if it’s something I have. When I first started getting tension headaches, I was convinced I had brain cancer, even though several doctors insisted it was unlikely. At this point, I’m pretty confident they’re tension headaches, but I still experience pretty debilitating anxiety over it.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if illness anxiety disorder simply goes along with a diagnosis of SMA. Do you struggle with health anxiety? If so, how do you deal with the feelings of fear? Let us know in the comments below!

    ryan-berhar-2 replied 4 years, 9 months ago 4 Members · 3 Replies
  • 3 Replies
  • adnan-hafizovic

    December 13, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    I had problems with classical anxiety.I used pills for calm but big improvement gave me using magnesium.Now I don’t use any pills for calm but every second day I drink magnesium,and I feel better.

  • kelly-miller

    December 13, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    Hi Brianna!

    I’m not sure I have exactly what you’re talking about, but I can relate to a similar anxiety problem regarding death. I used to worry all the time that I was either going to die or my husband was going to die. Of course, worrying over me was a little more realistic than worrying over my husband seeing how I have SMA 2 & I was getting up in the years (55 now). It seemed once I hit 40, my body just started falling apart. I developed high blood pressure, general anxiety, and a whole host of other issues that eventually caused me to get a feeding tube & a SPC. I was constantly worrying over whether this meant I was rapidly getting worse and would soon be unable to do anything, leading to death in the not so distant future. I was also highly afraid of my husband dying. Every time he would go out, either driving to work or the store, I would panic if he wasn’t at his destination in a prescribed period of time. Then, of course, I would panic on his return home if it took what I thought was too long. All of this caused me to go into a horrible panic attack with my heart racing, my chest feeling constricted, & my breathing becoming difficult. I would almost start crying because I couldn’t get myself calmed down. It really was scary. I have a prescription for lorazepam (Ativan) which I keep on me just in case any sort of anxiety attack begins to take form. It’s pretty fast acting and just gets me to a state of calmness where I can think more rationally & reasonably.

    As far as long-term dealing with this sort of thing, I started going to a recovery group called Celebrate Recovery. Unlike most of them, this group is for people who are recovering from all sorts of things, not just alcohol or drugs. We have many participants who are dealing with grief, depression, general anxiety, separation, anger issues, sex addiction, promiscuity, porn addiction, just about anything you can think of. It is a 12-step program and we have meetings that are much like support groups. In fact it’s operated much like an AA meeting except these share groups are men & women separately, so you can feel more comfortable that you can share things you might not want to with the opposite sex in the room. We even have “chips” to mark the periods of time that we have had success over our issues. Just to let you know, it is a Christ-centered program, so the meetings are held in churches. There are no certain denominations where they have the meetings, but most of them are evangelical churches. That would be Baptist, Church of Christ, Pentecostal, Assemblies of God, that sort of thing. I have seen a few in Methodist churches but no Catholic or Episcopal. I’m not sure why they don’t usually work in those, but it doesn’t mean they never could. If you’re okay with going to a meeting that talks about God but is structured like a recovery group to help people with all kinds of problems, then Celebrate Recovery is the place for you. I’ve been going for 8 years, and I absolutely don’t worry about dying or my husband dying anymore! I still have the lorazepam in case of some rare attack, but I haven’t used it in a very long time.

    If the church thing is your bag, then I’m sure there are other support groups around for your particular condition. They seem to have them for just about everything. I would definitely recommend something like that for a long-term answer. You could also talk to your doctor about what they suggest as far as some kind of mild anti-anxiety/anti-depression medication that might help you more immediately. You don’t want to become dependent on a med any more than you have to, but sometimes it’s necessary to take one just to get you over the hump.

    Good luck and keep us posted. I know it took a lot of courage to reach out here on the forum, and that is definitely the 1st step to being able to get a hold of your situation. Keep talking about it, whether it’s here or with friends you have at home, or a professional counselor if you decide to go that route. I’m sure any of us can relate to what you’re going through in one form or another.

  • ryan-berhar-2

    December 13, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    The only thing that comes to mind is a few years ago, I was concerned that I might have a heart issue, because I had pain in my chest. I learned it was likely musculoskeletal pain. SMA brings a host of issues, and I’d say it’s natural for us to blow certain things out of proportion, and to fear that something might be more serious than it actually is.