The NHS description of health anxiety is a combination of the above criteria:
Constantly worrying about your health.
Regularly checking your body for signs of illness.
Regularly seeking reassurance that you are not ill.
Worrying that the doctor or medical tests missed something.
Obsessively researching health information.
Avoiding anything to do with serious illness.
Behaving as if you are ill.
If you’re constantly checking parts of your body that worry you throughout the day, this can be extremely draining. Your fear is so severe that you can’t overcome the compulsion to act upon it. This is possibly why health anxiety is often compared to OCD
What support is available for health anxiety?
One of the most challenging aspects of health anxiety is that anxiety itself causes physical symptoms. When the anxiety you feel about your health causes you to develop physical symptoms, such as a pounding heart or a headache, you believe the symptoms to be a part of your perceived illness. This increases the feeling of fear, and the cycle continues.
The NHS recommends self-help, unless the feelings you experience interfere with your daily life, in which case the recommendation is to see your GP who can refer you to a counsellor or therapist, support group or for guided self-help.
However, it’s often that there is a long waiting list, or the support is restricted, and you need further help. In case then you will need to seek out your own support. There are many charities in the UK that offer help, such as the Samaritans, MIND, Calm, Young Minds and Anxiety UK, although frustratingly, it does take a bit of research and reaching out.
Hypnotherapy for health anxiety
Hypnotherapy is a form of therapy that combines hypnosis with therapy to help you overcome challenges and change negative behaviour and mindset. Hypnosis is the same state of mind as that achieved through meditation. Hypnosis helps the user to focus and take control of their thoughts and actions. Most hypnotherapists have a thorough understanding of the neuroscience of the autonomic nervous system and can help you with generalised or specific anxiety.
Your hypnotherapist will use therapeutic techniques to help you redirect your mind and feel in control of your thinking, so that it stops running away from you. Many people fear letting go of their health anxiety because of the fear that something is wrong. They worry that when they remove the focus on health, the illness will take hold and their worst nightmare will come true. Therefore, your hypnotherapist will spend time helping you to feel safe living a life with a fair and rational focus on health.
For example, most people with breasts know the importance of checking for breast cancer. As do most people with testicles for testicular cancer. However, the recommendation is to check once a month, not once (or more) a day. Your hypnotherapist will help you feel safe and confident in your body’s ability to remain healthy.
What clients can expect from working with a me.
I will conduct a thorough consultation to understand more about your life, past and present, and I might ask you questions that have more depth than you expected. Hypnotherapists do not do something to you, rather they help you to find your own power to make the desired changes.
Hypnosis is a relaxing experience, enjoyable to most. You will spend some of your session talking - sometimes all of it - and part of it in hypnosis.
I will guide you into hypnosis, just like a guided meditation and will either continue to speak to you about something relevant to your situation or ask you questions.
I will also teach you various techniques to use at home which will include tools to help you when you feel anxious, and ideas to stop the habits which increase your health anxiety.
What’s the first step?
I offer a bespoke three-session package which will be tailored my individual client’s unique requirements (because everyone is different) which will really help them to control any feelings of anxiety around their health and wellness.
This package will include other therapeutic tools such as NLP where appropriate, and I will record hypnosis sessions for my clients to listen to whenever they need, to support their progress.
Most clients choose to spread their sessions, so they are taken at two-week intervals, but that is entirely up to you. You could choose to have them weekly or monthly.
Sessions are usually taken in person at my practice in Partridge Green just south of Horsham but can also be taken remotely via Teams.
The cost is £240.00 for the three-session package. Additional sessions, if you feel you’d like to have ongoing support, are at your request, and would be charged at a reduced cost of £75 thereafter.
Taking the first step sometimes feels huge, so it’s OK to take a small step first to see how things go. If you’d like to book one session to see how you feel, the cost is £90, which I’m happy to offset against the price of the three-session package if you wish to proceed.