Health anxiety is an anxiety condition where an individual has an obsessional pre-occupation that they are ill, or about to get ill, that it starts to take over their life. Those who are affected by health anxiety often misinterpret minor physical symptoms as indicators of serious disease or severe medical condition.

Individuals may also become obsessive about researching their symptoms and serious medical conditions such as cancer and HIV.

Other signs and symptoms can include:

  • Reassurance-seeking from others
  • Checking their symptoms online
  • Checking their body repeatedly for signs of illness
  • Acting as if they are ill.

The anxiety itself can also cause physical symptoms like headaches, body aches and a racing heartbeat, and they may mistake these for signs of a physical illness.

Support available:  

The NHS website has some useful self-help guidance, including keeping a diary.

Anxiety UK has information about health anxiety and advice on how to access support.

Health anxiety can also be treated via psychological therapies. Visit our service lookup here to see if we deliver a talking therapy service in your local area. Alternatively, you can visit the NHS website here and enter your postcode to find your local service. You can self-refer for support, you don’t need a referral from a GP.