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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10547
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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I have anxiety. I dont want to take medication, because I

Customer Question

I have anxiety. I dont want to take medication, because I have tried and it didnt help very much, other then making me emotionless. I have health anxiety, and when I feel anxious, I am directing it to any measurable area. My breasts are my main focus.
I check them multiple times a day for lumps and/or redness. When I feel anxious, Ill self check. I'll either a. feel nothing and feel better for brief amount of time. b. feel something and have a panic attack. prompting my to check another 100 times until
I talk myself down and realize it isnt anything. I have had my breast ultrasound, 4 of them last year, with a surgeon. I have also assessed my risk. Which is super low. I do the same action with lymph nodes, another measurable by me, symptom. I believe that
when my health concerns are at bay, Im worrying about my marriage and making issues there. What can I do to help myself? Its starting to make life hard, work hard, and my mood daily is very unhappy. Im like afraid to be happy.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

*This website DOES NOT constitute treatment and only provides information and advice in a Q&A format. For treatment (therapy and/or medications) you must go to a licensed professional in your area. Please note that anything said here is not private or confidential, as this is a public forum.

Hello and thank you for using JustAnswer. Have you considered undergoing therapy to help treat your overall anxiety disorder?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have. Ive been given CBT books. It helps but not daily..It comes in waves.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Does it make sense, that my anxiety starts and Im putting it into an area, like my breasts, or checking them.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

Well the best type of therapy for Health Anxiety is a combination of CBT and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). There are no self-help books for ERP as it must be done with a psychologist for it to be truly effective. Health anxiety is a combination of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Somatization Disorder (physical symptoms caused by a mental health disorder), so it is quite common for health anxiety to focused on one specific area. I would recommend trying therapy again, but doing this combination approach and also you may want to consider natural supplements of Valerian Root, Passion Flower, Kava, or Picamilon to help lessen your anxiety

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok. Im going to seek out therapy again.
I have some of those natural supplements.
If I go to the doctor, and get examined and checked, I feel at ease.
Lately, I have had everything checked within a year, and I still wonder if something new could be growing. I cant seem to just let life be. I am tense and try to control everything so nothing bad happens.
It is exhausting. Do you have any advice for me to decrease my irrational fears?
Its starting to effect my marriage.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I dont know if this is health anxiety or if this is anxiety and Im trying to find a place to blame it on.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

This is definitely health anxiety from what you are describing. Unfortunately there is no quick fix to this as you will most likely need to undergo therapy for a few months for you to overcome these irrational fears. You know all the CBT techniques and they are not working for you, so this is why you are going to need to undergo systematic treatment to overcome this. I would recommend a combination of individual and group therapy for you given what you described. Reducing your irrational fears will only come with the systematic treatment, so you have to be patient.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I believe the thoughts I have are OCD related.
ERP is facing my fear and not checking when I get the urge.
I have tried this. It works but then I think Im leaving something unchecked and I need t check to make sure Im ok.
This is where my struggle is.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

Therapy only goes so far in treatment unfortunately and this is why a combination of medication is usually recommended for Health Anxiety, but I know you do not want to undergo medications. You can try a non-medication approach with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) which has virtually no side effects (the most common are headaches and scalp irritation for a few days). TMS is very useful in lessening anxiety, but its effectiveness for treating OCD type disorders is still being studied.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ultimately, this is a lifelong problem or mind over matter?
When Im busy, I dont feel so crazy. I feel this way when Im alone and Im not busy. I have a hard time resting.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

Everyone who has an anxiety disorder or OCD type disorder do not feel the symptoms when they are busy because they are distracted. Most likely this is going to be a life-long issue for you that will wax and wane.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thats terrible news..
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

Health anxiety is typically a life long disorder and it usually takes over a year of systematic treatment to lessen the symptoms of the disorder.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Wow. I feel like I am better when I understand that my thoughts are irrational. It happens daily.
Sometimes I think the more I put into fighting the thoughts, the more they come.I need to try and filter thoughts.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

You can try a different type of therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which focuses on accepting that the thoughts are irrational and just letting them pass by. This can lessen the anxiety and overwhelming feeling that comes with the thoughts

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok. I'll look that up.
Do you think that this could be my fear of not having control of my life?
I want to make sure my family is healthy and safe, along with myself.
I cannot seem to let go and enjoy each day
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

Its hard to say without examining you face to face. Health Anxiety can be caused by numerous issues so it is very difficult to narrow down.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok. Thanks. Im just trying to put some reason behind my irrational thoughts other then something actually or really being wrong.
I have an amazing life. Im very blessed financially, ect.
Sometimes I think Im worried that the ball is going to drop. Things cant be this good. I torment myself with this. Like, "dont be too happy. People get cancer everyday"
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

You should not focus on the cause for your Health Anxiety because at the end of the day it does not matter as you still have the anxiety. Instead focus on treating it and lessening it as that will be more beneficial to you overall.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Right. I feel as if I have to care less about things. Im not sure how to care less or wait and see approach to life
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

Try the ACT therapy and see if it helps you. You have to try different modalities to find the right one that works for you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Any books you recommend?
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

You can try this book:

"ACT Made Simple: An Easy-To-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (The New Harbinger Made Simple Series)" by Harriss

But overall you need to commit to long-term therapy as books alone will not be helpful.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks. I know, I had little success in therapy. I just found it to be repetitive and It didnt make me feel better. What makes me feel better, usually, is the guarantee that I have no cancer somewhere in my body.
I rely on tests and facts. But I know that things happen if they are meant to happen. I cant stop and prevent them.
I juice and exercise. I eat paleo. I take supplements. Im a full cancer prevention mode. This is part of my prevention behavior though. Trying to combat my fear by doing things to prevent illness.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

Well this is good for your physical health, but going to the doctor all the time for tests will only exacerbate your health anxiety

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Right. Since my last year, I have stopped going as often and I have stopped looking for problems and symptoms.
Im going to try focusing on the book you suggested. Im also going to try to repeat my "therapy sayings" they gave me. "Ive never been right before" "This is just a feeling. This isnt a real problem".
Maybe one day, I'll start working. And get busy.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

Hopefully you will be able to overcome this with the right treatment plan. I wish you all the best :)

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