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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10643
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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A childhood classmate of mine died in October 2014 of breast

Customer Question

A childhood classmate of mine died in October 2014 of breast cancer at the age of 39. She left behind three children under the age of 10. I was 39 and pregnant with my son, who was born a month later. Another classmate died in 2013 of diabetes, leaving behind a young son. And I just read about a country performer who is 40 and has terminal cervical cancer. She has a one-year-old daughter. Now 40, I find myself constantly worried about my health, convinced that I have cancer and convinced that I am not going to be around for my son, who will be a year old this week. I panic at any bodily sensation, cough, supposed lump, mole, etc., and the fact that I have a history of breast lumps (determined to be benign through biopsy) does not help. My joints still ache from nine months of pregnancy, so now I'm convinced that on top of breast, lung cancer and heart attack, I have bone cancer and reproductive cancers. I am afraid to bathe and will put it off as long as I can. I just don't know how to escape the prison of my head, feel comfortable in my own skin, and enjoy my life with my great little family.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for using justanswer. Have you discussed this anxiety and constant worry with your doctor and were you ever offered a psychotropic medication such as an antidepressant? Also have you considered entering into therapy?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, I haven't discussed this with anyone until now as it is embarassing.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

It's not embarrassing at all as your health anxiety is perfectly normal given the circumstances. The treatment to help you will be to get a prescription for a SSRI antidepressant like Lexapro, Zoloft, or Luvox as these are very effective antidepressants to treat your level of mental and physical anxiety. Your primary care doctor can prescribe this but I would recommend a referral to a psychiatrist. You also want to be referred to s psychologist for cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure response prevention as this combination of therapy will treat the core causes of your health anxiety. It will take time for the treatment to work but you will start to notice benefits within a few weeks and hopefully a complete resolution of your symptoms within a few months.

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