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Illness anxiety and paranoia


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So I'm diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. But lately I've been thinking its not all that generalized. For a long time, my anxiety has been directed towards illnesses. The fear of dying and being sick. I will constantly convince myself that I'm suffering from dangerous diseases and I don't know how to stop this or deal with it. I would love some advice from someone who feels the same. Here are some examples of my paranoia related to illness:

 

- I will interprate even the smallest things as signs of something huge. The most recent example is feeling the need to scratch myself on my legs and then believing that I was suffering from a dangerous skin condition. Then i noticed that i had som marks that came in pairs and became convinced I'd been bitten by some dangerous bug.

 

- I will read or hear about an illness and become convinced I have it, including getting symptoms.

 

- I will get terrified of being contaminated, like one time I borrowed some toothpaste from my roomate and got convinced I would get HIV from it.

 

- This worry includes my boyfriend. I was convinced that a big zit on his back was really a flesh eating bacteria and I wanted him to see a doctor at once! I also forced him to sleep with a t-shirt on because I was scared of getting the bacteria.

 

- This fear even bothers me after self-inflicted injuries. After self-harming I become convinced that I will now get blood-poisening and die.

 

- I also had two extreme cases where it was out of control. I once believed my heart had actually stopped and I was walking around with my heart not beating. After a while I would kind of believe people who told me it was beating, but I kept holding my heart in fear that it would stop again. The other time I was certain that one of my ribs had turned to rubber. I could even feel my rib feeling like rubber when I touched it and i could feel it become softer and pressing into my body.

 

Does anyone have symptoms like these? I feel like this is really bothering me and cause me a lot of grief in my day to day life. I just have a hard time relating to people stories with GAD, because my anxiety is fairly focused on specific things. I just need some feedback i guess, is this normal in an anxiety disorder?

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I experience pretty much exactly what you do. A few months ago I started feeling weak and fatigued. The depression had set in months before (lost interest in the things I used to love, layed in bed all day, felt shit at work etc.). I shrugged it off as a cold. After a few weeks of this consistent fatigue and weakness I really started to worry. My anxiety went through the roof and I was convinced I either had Diabetes, HIV or some other serious disease. The constant anxiety made me feel 10x worse and the cycle continued until I ended up in the emergency room a handful of times in a few weeks.

I was tested for pretty much everything. I had an EKG, a chest X-Ray, full blood work, urine test, full battery of STD tests, everything came back fine. I was sent home with the diagnosis of anxiety every time. You think all of those tests coming back fine would give me some peace of mind and ease my anxiety, but it didn't. Months of depression and weeks of constant anxiety had drained me. I still felt like shit and I didn't know why. The last time I went into the ER I was in tears and it was clear to them that I had a severe anxiety issue. I talked to a behavioral nurse who offered me some Ativan to calm me down (I was a hot mess). When it kicked in not only was my anxiety gone. most of my physical symptoms seemed to disappear with it.

I made an appointment with a primary physician and after a thorough exam she agreed and prescribed me Zoloft and Klonopin. that was 2 weeks ago. I still don't feel 100% but when I think about the state I was in before all of this I'm very thankful.

But yeah. Any twinge of pain can turn into a serious problem in my mind. I used my neti pot the other day. I had some sinus pain the next day and was convinced I had caught that brain eating amoeba. a few days ago when some mild Zoloft headaches started, I was convinced I had a brain tumor. You're definitely not the only one who thinks that way.

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I often obsess about specific things ranging from health issues for myself to the safety and wellbeing of my family. From my understanding GAD does include this (I'm not a doctor nor a scholar or anything remotely intelligent) and while I understand needing to have the right diagnosis for yourself in order to be on the right treatment plan, I would trust, at this point in time, what your doctor has told you. If you feel concerned that this isn't the right diagnosis, I would bring it up with them and ask for a clearer explanation. If you're comfortable with going to your library or have a few extra bucks to spare I would highly recommend:

 
The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook (I think the 5th edition is the most recent?)
By: Edmund J. Bourne PhD
 
One of the therapists I have seen over time recommended this book to me, and while I didn't get through all of it, it was really helpful in explaining the different types of anxiety disorders. I felt like I finally understood panic disorder and agoraphobia and was amazed because it fit me exactly. It also includes a lot of additional information and ways to cope with each specific anxiety disorder.
 
Anyway, I totally understand where you're coming from. I don't understand the thoughts that go through my head most of the time and why I worry about what I do but it's exhausting and needing to relate to people is really important when you feel like you're losing control. So, I do understand where you're coming from, I've been there. I would recommend learning coping skills with a counselor who specializes in anxiety and also working with a psychiatrist on finding the right combination of medication to ease the anxiety. Nobody should have to suffer like this.
 
 
 

 

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I also feel exactly like you do, and constantly have to push health anxiety to the back of my mind every time there is the slightest thing wrong with me, if i don't feel better in a few days or weeks i think the Doctor has missed something or got it wrong,i like to get second opinions, if i get a scan or blood test i think they did it wrong.

 

I always find it best to be as honest as you can with the pdoc because if they don't know the full picture they can't help you recover fully.

Edited by neptunesky
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