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From ‘Do I have this?’ to ‘I think I will be okay now’, how I managed my health anxiety with online doctors?

From ‘Do I have this?’ to ‘I think I will be okay now’, how I managed my health anxiety with online doctors?
Medically reviewed by Dr. Fatima Dar

Liam visited Your Doctors Online and chatted with one of our best online doctors regarding health anxiety.

I always disliked the term ‘hypochondria because it gives the idea that a person is just dramatic or attention-seeking, when in fact they have a serious mental illness.

16-years-old boy with severe hypochondria

I am a teenager, 16- years old boy. I’ve suffered from general anxiety disorder and OCD tendencies for as long as I can remember, but it eventually manifested into health anxiety when I started noticing lumps in different parts of my body.

Initially, I could feel them in my neck, then they travelled to the chest and ribs, then the armpit and finally in the scrotum. I googled my symptoms, and it said that these are mainly swollen lymph nodes due to an infection or inflammation. 

I was examined and tested for infections and all the possible causes, and all the tests came back clear. A few weeks later, I was scrolling on Google, and one of those awful, scaremongering articles popped up: “Blood Cancer – The Silent Killer.”  It listed the main symptom of blood cancer that is the enlargement of the lymph nodes. This happens because of the sudden increase in the number of lymphocytes.

I convinced myself of having leukemia or lymphoma.

Every morning, I mentally scanned my whole body, checked for any slight pain or new sensation, and then checked for any lumps or bumps or marks on my skin. Trust me; if you go looking for these things, you will find something.

For the past year, I have noticed lumps all over my body, which part of me knew had probably always been there. I completely freaked out and was 100% certain I had lymphoma.

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Pulling up the courage to see a Doctor

After that, I finally went to see the doctor. This was hard for me. Doctors told me that they couldn’t feel anything.

Initially, this reassured me, but a few days later, the ‘what if’ voice started to creep back in. What if they missed something? What if they weren’t feeling in the right place?

Not trusting doctors is one of the hardest parts of having health anxiety because it makes it almost impossible to feel reassured about anything.

Seeking reassurance from online doctors for health anxiety

I find myself constantly seeking reassurance from my loved ones, which I’m sure can become annoying after a while. I also use the internet, but the online world is a double-edged sword for health anxiety sufferers.

On one hand, if you google pretty much any symptom, cancer will come up as one of the possible causes. The information is always so vague and not person-specific, which can often make my anxiety worse. On the other hand, I have also found that the information online has helped me better understand my condition.

Your Doctors Online came as a Saviour.

Finally, the internet has allowed me to get in touch with Your Doctors Online. I found it to be one of the leading websites on google for free online consultation with real doctors. In short, it is a complete website solution for everything medical-related. It was a straightforward process to download the app, and you can get immediately connected with an experienced doctor.

Also Read: My Hyperthyroidism was misdiagnosed as Anxiety

Likewise, I also needed someone who would listen to my health concerns and respond appropriately according to that information. That, someone, was Dr. Imtiaz. She took her time with me and listened to my concerns.

I told her that I have no self-control, and I usually spend my whole day scanning and self-checking for lumps and bumps everywhere on my body. I openly told her that I definitely have lymphoma or leukemia. After taking a detailed history, she convinced me that it is nothing sinister like leukemia or lymphoma.

She told me that my anxiety has metamorphosed into health anxiety and reassured me that I need to fight this. Along with that, she advised me tips and tricks for my anxiety, and I started following up on alternate days to update that I was not self-checking anymore and doing much better with my health anxiety. She also prescribed me medications for anxiety and therapy sessions with psychiatrists.

The online doctor chat proved that although health anxiety could interfere with your life, it’s treatable. 

“The most important thing to know about health anxiety is that it’s a treatable problem,”

My follow-ups are now reduced to once a week, and I am thrilled that I overcame hypochondria that was previously filling my life with utter despair. It happened with the help of all the doctors who were available to me 24/7. Basically, the doctor directed me towards cognitive behavioural therapy, which is defined mainly as self-control. 

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Cognitive behavioural therapy has helped people with health anxiety by aiming to help patients change their harmful thought patterns and thus change the behaviours that result from those thought patterns. 

Your doctors online gave me a lot of courage to accept that it became fixated as well.

It would be nice to wrap up here by mentioning that my medication, therapy sessions and empathetic online doctor chats made my health anxiety go away. Nice doesn’t equal reality, though. The truth is, there are still days when I feel my anxiety’s finger on the switch in my brain. There are days when it flips again, and I become fixated. My last fixation was bowel cancer. Do I have it? At this exact moment, while I’m stable, I can tell you: Of course not.

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