Psychosocial Support Unit Announcement: Health Anxiety and Coronavirus

The key to a happy and peaceful life is health. The concept of health, which is linked to the continuation and the quality of life, is vital for us humans. Therefore it is common for people to have worries about their health. While it can be practical focusing on health related issues for some people, in some cases, it is impractical and even harmful to others.

Health anxiety means believing that you have or will have a serious illness by misinterpreting some symptoms and being overly-anxious about health. We call “hypochondriasis” for psychiatric disorders with health anxiety. We can describe it as a disorder that comes with constantly illness anxiety and various physical complaints, even though the patient is not physically ill.

Anxiety is basically an emotion that keeps us alive and helps us. Therefore, having mild health anxiety supports a person’s healthy lifestyle behaviors. Because it is a motivation for the person in the practice of health-protecting behaviors (balanced diet, exercise, etc.).

However, one of the most important consequences of health anxiety is that the increase in the person’s ‘avoidance and safety’ behaviors and significant negative impact on life functionality. Because people with intense health anxiety are in need of constant awareness against their bodily sensations and an extreme struggle against diseases and death.

Nevertheless, as the anxiety level increases, health behaviors may tend towards unhealthy lifestyle behaviors. The sensitivity of a person with severe health anxiety has increased to the physical sensations and he or she misinterprets these sensations. The person constantly believes that he has a serious illness and this serious illness might lead to quite negative consequences like death.

Healthy living means a person’s comfortable living without having a serious illness but enjoying life physically and spiritually for many years. Healthy lifestyle behaviors can be explained as behaviors that will ensure this healthy life.

Health behaviors such as physical activity, health responsibility, healthy nutrition, self-improvement, interpersonal relations, stress management are positive behaviors that support a healthy life.

While it is beneficial to experience health anxiety at a certain level, increase in the level of anxiety affects people’s quality of life. The anxiety is good for the person if it is experienced at a level that allows being aware of the behaviors that support healthy living. However, it should be taken into consideration that health anxiety, which includes the avoidance behaviors about health and affects daily life negatively, may endanger the body and mental health.


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