Health anxiety, also known as illness anxiety disorder and hypochondriasis, is characterized by concern about having or developing a serious illness despite not having any symptoms or experiencing only mild physical symptoms. In response to the health concerns, people excessively check their symptoms or try to avoid experiencing symptoms or make excessive medical appointments.
How common is health anxiety?1
The prevalence of health anxiety is estimated to be between 1.5% to 10% of the population, with a similar rate in males and females.
What is CBT treatment for health anxiety like?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for health anxiety starts by educating clients about their diagnosis and about CBT, helps clients set treatment goals, and teaches clients essential thinking and behavioral skills. For clients diagnosed with health anxiety, CBT focuses on helping clients reduce their worry about their health and their pre-occupation with symptoms; clients learn to view physiological sensations in a less anxious manner. Treatment also involves helping clients spend less time checking their physical symptoms and more time engaged in activities they value.
1 American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. doi:10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596.744053
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