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Elliott, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 7664
Experience:  35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
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I suffer from severe anxiety. I worry that I have cancer

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I suffer from severe anxiety. I worry that I have cancer constantly. Several months ago I discovered a knot in my breast while breastfeeding and panicked. Even tho I have been to two different doctors Who both said the knot was not concerning fnd had s nogmdl ultrasound I am still terrified they are wrong. I end up on the Internet and end up terrified and nearly in tears. I wake up with my heart pounding and dread the day. I feel the knot constantly trying to figure out if its grown. It's a miserable way to be be and I hate being this way. I'm do scared of something happening to me and leaving my kids. I take the generic Zoloft but it doesn't seem to help me. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Seeking expert counseling is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.

Dear friend,

There are many people who suffer as you do, from the belief that a minor symptom can be masking a major disorder, even when their physician and subsequent medical tests and scans show no irregularities. Or there may be a slight abnormality (such as your breast knot) which they will expand into a major disorder in their thoughts, and suffer clinically important distress that impairs their work or social or personal functioning.

These two similar disorders are both types of Somatoform Disorders and care closely related. They are both disorders, the first called Hypochondriasis and the second called Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

This disorder is similar to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is best treated with a type of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy called "Exposure and Response Prevention" (ERP). Another CBT technique that is extremely useful is "Cognitive Restructuring". In this technique, the clients learn to challenge the validity of their distorted body-related thoughts.

Sometimes a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor is prescribed as well, particularly Prozac, rather than Zoloft.

For temporary relief of anxiety, your doctor might consider giving you an antianxiety medication for about 6 weeks while the Prozac kicks in. The most effective medication for that would be lorazepam/Ativan.

However, these drugs are temporary measures, and the best treatment for what you have would be the psychotherapy that I recommended above.

You surely do not have anything seriously wrong with you, health-wise, and need to learn to cope with these thoughts using the techniques you will learn in psychotherapy.

I wish you great success.

Warm regards,

Elliott Sewell, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC
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