Anxiety symptoms are designed to protect us from danger so we are hard-wired to TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY!
So each time we feel overwhelming fear in relation to a symptom we very understandably place great importance on it (after all it feels like a matter of life and death)
A person suffering from an anxiety disorder like Health Anxiety or Panic Disorder will have repetitive episodes of anxiety over their health or unusual or frightening sensations – and they will constantly be scanning for any new symptoms and even though they may be told again and again that nothing is wrong the overwhelming nature of the anxiety will be far stronger that any reassurance they receive.
People with anxiety focus 99% on the fear and just 1% on the fact that the feared outcome didn’t happen. Again this is understandable because human beings are hard wired to take fear more seriously than ‘logic’
Some people with health anxiety have had thousands of such episodes over many years but the extreme fear blocks any awareness that the feared outcome never happened (and what that proves).
Recovery starts with a greater awareness of what is going on. We need to see this ‘process’ for OURSELVES.
One way to become aware of the process is to keep a diary of each anxiety episode. In CBT there are Thought Records which will help you challenge your catastrophic thinking – but I know that not everyone is prepared to take that step so I would like to suggest that to get the awareness ball rolling you at LEAST keep a record of your ‘Reassurance Seeking’ behaviour
Over time this will give you a clear picture of just how many times you have a catastrophic fear that doesn’t ultimately come to anything.
Just note the date, time, symptom / fear, the trigger and time spent online seeking reassurance – later you can fill in the ‘outcome’ box
Print out a dozen copies and keep it beside your computer and fill it in after you go online researching your symptoms or seeking reassurance – or even if you have sought reassurance from family or friends.
After a few weeks or months the results my motivate you to focus more on dealing with the anxiety rather than the symptoms.
You can download the worksheet HERE>>