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I am currently weaning from one anxiety medications to

another for hypochondriasis. I am...
I am currently weaning from one anxiety medications to another for hypochondriasis. I am under the guidance of my psychiatrist. I am finding my health worries are very high whilst I am switching meds. Please can you offer any strategies? I keep googling possible illnesses although I know I shouldn't.
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Answered in 23 minutes by:
1/15/2018
LeahMSWuofm
LeahMSWuofm, Clinical Social Worker
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1,166
Experience: 10 years post-MSW experience
Verified

Hi, thank you for writing. My name is***** am sorry your anxiety is peaking - his is not surprising given your medications are being adjusted. First and foremost, you are right about knowing Googling isn't helping you right now. Step 1 - step away from the computer and do something else, eve if yo feel anxious. When you have urges to google and fears are popping in your head, ignore them and the anxiety they may cause. Do not act on them in anyway other than acknowledging that you are having thoughts and they are a symptom of your hypochondriasis. But also remind yourself that they are only thoughts and thoughts are quite often completely inaccurate and furthermore, just because you think something, that does not make it true nor mean you have to act upon it. So remember, work on ignoring the worries you have and trusting that you CAN live with some anxiety without needing to find an immediate way to get "relief". This absence in attention and confidence you can handle some unknown will ultimately show your brain they are not important enough to warrant your attention and the worries themselves will begin to dissipate in terms of power and frequency.

As far as adjusting to anxiety in real-time, here are some suggestions for more immediate ways to calm your nerves so you have a better chance of accepting them your health worries to be only thoughts and not perpetuating them through reaction.

Your mind may begin to wander during the process of doing these exercises an that is okay. If distractions arise (thoughts about tonight’s dinner or those unread work emails), simply observe the intrusion and let it float on by. Bring your attention back to the exercise and keep at it. Practice makes perfect, too, so using these things on the regula will help get you ore power over the way yo think and feel.

Square breathing

Square breathing helps regulate the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our bodies, which can often be out of balance when anxiety is at play. Square breathing involves breathing in, holding the breath, exhaling and holding it again — all for four counts apiece.

Repeat the cycle for several minutes. This exercise promotes relaxation and leads to clearer thoughts, helping to reset emotional peaks.

Mindfulness

The art of living in the moment, mindfulness seeks to bring a person fully into the present by engaging all five senses. So much of our time, after all, is spent focusing on the past or future, or simply going about our busy lives without thinking twice.

Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere and applied to any activity. Consider the process of taking a shower: Most of us just go through a pattern of steps, rushing through the routine to move forward with our day. A mindful shower would involve paying attention to the smell of your soap, the feel of the warm water on your different body parts, the sound of the water hitting your back and the steam enveloping the bathroom, for example.

By observing things in real time and being aware, we can calm the part of the logical mind fixated on what comes next. This helps us appreciate things more and reduces stress and worry.

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)

Anxiety often manifests itself physically in our bodies. One common physical reaction to anxiety is muscle tension. When we begin to experience anxiety, our bodies can stay tense without us even realizing it. Ironically, our brain then perceives this tension and treats it as a warning sign that there is reason to be worried, and the anxiety alarm starts to sound. It is a vicious cycle.

Progressive muscle relaxation seeks to help your brain recognize what it feels like for your muscles to be in a relaxed, tension-free state. To initiate PMR, get comfortable in a seated position. Starting at the tips of your toes and working your way up, flex each major muscle group for a count of 10 seconds, then release for a count of 10 seconds. Move on to the next group of muscles, flexing for 10 seconds, then releasing for 10 seconds.

This action helps remind the body of the difference between tension and relaxation, which can help the brain identify and remedy a tense situation. As this unconscious tension tends to trip the anxiety alarm, keeping muscles relaxed as much as possible is an important tool that can combat ongoing anxiety.

Hope this helps but I remain here to chat if you'd like!

-Leah

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Leah this is wonderfully helpful. I see a psychologist but not until Feb so some of these strategies are great. Thank you.

You are welcome. i am glad to hear you're seeing a psychologist in February. Battles against your thoughts like this have a HUGE behavioral component to them which is both a blessing and a curse. But, it does mean that once you get confident n sticking to a strategy of how you react to your worries, you will be a huge step closer to not letting them affect you to such a great degree. "Exposure and response prevention" or ERP is a gold-standard treatment for this type of condition so you may wish to read up a little on implementing strategies from this approach in your everyday.

Best to you!

-Leah

LeahMSWuofm
LeahMSWuofm, Clinical Social Worker
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1,166
Experience: 10 years post-MSW experience
Verified
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