Health anxiety and safety behaviours
To worry about your health is a normal human experience. Health anxiety refers to the excessive concern that there may be a threat to your health which triggers your anxiety (fight/flight) response.
Health anxiety is problematic when it is excessive, out of proportion to the realistic chances of having a serious problem, persists despite negative tests and reassurance from health professionals, leads to excessive unhelpful behaviours such as body-checking and medical test-seeking, and causes you significant distress or impacts on your functioning.
Health anxiety can exist in people who are “healthy”, in people who are experiencing real yet unexplained medical symptoms, and in people who have an existing and diagnosed medical condition.
In health anxiety the issue is not whether your physical symptoms are real, but whether you are responding to and coping with your symptoms in a helpful or unhelpful way.