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Can CBT help for hypochondria?

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Yes, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can help for hypochondria, also known as health anxiety. CBT involves identifying triggers, which leads to irrational thoughts, which leads to anxiety, which leads to compensatory behaviors, which then maintains the negative cycle of hypochondria. In order to break this cycle, you use CBT concepts to identify how the hypochondria develops. Only when you can identify how hypochondria develops, then you can start to address the factors which perpetuates and maintains the negative cycle, and then you can start to eradicate it and have less anxiety symptoms.

So let's look at an example of how health anxiety might develop. Let's say your trigger is stomach pain that suddenly occurs. You might have thoughts about the stomach pain, such as "I might have stomach cancer," or "I might die from this," or "I can't stand uncertainty." These thoughts then lead to anxiety, where you are fearful, worried, tense, and can't relax. The anxiety then makes you overcompensate, where you engage in behaviors to decrease the anxiety, such as over-checking, over-monitoring, over-educating, going to the doctor multiple times, and getting multiple medical tests. The problem with these compensatory behaviors is that it maintains your intolerance of uncertainty, so you continue with your negative, vicious cycle of health anxiety.

To learn more about the negative cycle of health anxiety and how CBT can help, please visit the rest of AnxietyBoss.com and AnxietyProtocol.com.

answered Oct 15, 2015 by drcarlo (294,430 points)