Treatment for Illness Anxiety Disorder in Seattle, WA
What Is Illness Anxiety Disorder?
Illness anxiety disorder, formerly known as hypochondriasis or health anxiety, is a mental disorder characterized by an excessive fear or worry of serious illness or death. Individuals with illness anxiety disorder, often labeled as hypochondriacs, can misinterpret common health concerns as something very severe or life-threatening. In some cases, this worry arises without any physical symptoms. These individuals will spend a lot of time researching their symptoms, repeatedly visit their doctor, or seek reassurance from others.
While no real threat to their health actually exists, the anxiety which transpires from the condition can be debilitating and affect their quality of life. Illness anxiety disorder is a chronic condition that may worsen with age or during stressful times. Treatment for this disorder focuses on controlling anxiety through psychological counseling and medication when needed.
To schedule a consultation with a healthcare practitioner in Seattle who can provide treatment for illness anxiety disorder, call (206) 402-3375 or contact Dr. Jesse McClelland online.
Illness Anxiety Disorder Causes
Illness anxiety disorder often starts in young adulthood but can occur at any age. The cause of illness anxiety disorder is not fully understood; however, there are certain factors which appear to increase your risk of developing the disorder, including:
- Family influence: Your parents worried about your health during adolescence or were overly concerned about their own health
- Past illness: You suffered a significant illness in your early childhood
- Past abuse: You have a history of physical or sexual abuse
Illness Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
Illness anxiety disorder causes you to pay excessive attention to their health. You can become easily alarmed by anything that may be interpreted as an illness, such as normal body sensations, body functions, and mild symptoms like a headache or a cough.
Additional illness anxiety disorder symptoms include:
- A preoccupation with having or developing a serious illness
- An absence of physical symptoms or, if present, mild symptoms
- Constantly checking for signs of illness through research or diagnostic testing
- Finding little reassurance from negative lab test results or doctor’s feedback that you are healthy
- Easily alarmed by medical problems
- Avoiding people, places, or activities for fear of compromising your health
How to Diagnose Illness Anxiety Disorder
A diagnosis of illness anxiety disorder is often first suspected by a primary care provider, as many people with this disorder often refuse to see a mental health specialist. The diagnosis is based on a person's complaints, medical history, a physical examination, and laboratory tests.
A referral to a mental health practitioner is often made by the primary care provider in the absence of a physical health condition. During the psychological evaluation, the patient's history and self-assessment questionnaires are completed. Your mental health provider will base a diagnosis off of criteria established in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Treatment Options for Illness Anxiety Disorder
The goal of illness anxiety disorder treatment is to help you take control of your negative thinking. Psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), can help you learn skills to help identify your irrational fears and to change the way you respond to them. CBT can help relieve the anxiety associated with this disorder, as well as any overlapping conditions such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), often prescribed to treat anxiety and depression, can be very helpful for illness anxiety disorder. The improvement in mood provided by SSRIs can also help you to better engage in CBT therapy and improve your clinical outcome.
Illness anxiety disorder is a severe condition that can significantly impact one's mental health, daily functioning, and quality of life. Rarely does illness anxiety dissipate on its own; instead, it can worsen with age and under stressful circumstances creating a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety.
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of illness anxiety disorder, seek help in Seattle today. Call (206) 402-3375 or contact Dr. Jesse McClelland online.
Address2366 Eastlake Ave E
Seattle, WA 98102
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