Health Anxiety

Some symptoms I experience are shortness of breath, chest tightness, chest pain, numbness and tingling in hands, choking feeling in throat and lightheadedness. I have been to many hospitals as well as emergency departments because I felt faint and had heart palpitations and pains. After having xrays, ct scans, blood tests done, there seems to be nothing wrong with my body. However, these symptoms are still occuring. Hence I tried doing some research and it all links to health anxiety. I will just like to confirm if its really that and how should I even get better because I did try breathing exercises etc.

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Hi @anonymous21, thank you for writing in! I’m sorry to hear that you are experiencing these symptoms. I can imagine that it would be frustrating to go through this yet not have a proper explanation for it.

The thing with health anxiety is that it can be tricky to recognize. It happens when there is a preoccupation or excessive worry about developing a serious illness. The nature of anxiety itself can cause physical symptoms like the ones you mentioned, and those with health anxiety might mistake such symptoms for physical illness. With that said, I am unable to confirm if this is the case for you as I cannot provide professional diagnosis. Instead, I would encourage that you speak with a psychologist or psychiatrist if you would like to have a formal evaluation for it.

Alternatively, if these symptoms are typically lasting for anywhere between 20min to an hour, it might just be a stress response called “fight or flight”, which can happen as a reaction to a stressful or frightening event, or due to excessive mental stress (e.g. thinking about a stressful situation). Assuming this to be the case, it might be worth figuring out what is causing the excessive stress so you can better manage the situation. Perhaps you have a deadline coming up and you feel underprepared for it; could you be going through a transitional period like moving or switching jobs; or perhaps you simply have too much on your plate and it is causing you to feel overwhelmed? It might also help to take note of when these symptoms occur (e.g. before/after a specific event or thinking about a situation) and their duration.

Whichever the case may be, taking better care of your physical health and lowering your stress levels can be a good starting point in alleviating your symptoms. Caring for physical health (e.g. by getting quality sleep, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise) has been shown to boost mental wellbeing and increases our capacity to cope with daily stress. To lower stress levels, you could try relaxing hobbies such as journaling, coloring, doing puzzles, or even meditation. You may wish to try the tools listed here to help with this:
(1) https://mindline.sg/youth?wysa_tool_id=soothe_your_mind
(2) https://mindline.sg/youth?wysa_tool_id=understand_stress
(3) https://mindline.sg/youth?wysa_tool_id=feel_more_control

I hope this helps! o( ❛ᴗ❛ )o

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I second that! Maybe you could speak to a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders. They can help you understand your anxiety and develop coping strategies.

Please know that you’re not alone, and there is help available.

Hey, thanks for sharing! I feel concerned hearing that you are going through this, how have your symptoms been affecting your day-to-day?

It must be very worrying not being able to know what exactly your body is experiencing. From what you have shared, it seems like you have been through a lot to find out too, and still not having an answer must be quite anxiety-inducing. It’s great to hear that you have been seeking out alternatives to support yourself, did these help you feel better, even if just by a little? How do you find the breathing exercises, or other self-care exercises?

I am sorry for not being able to confirm if it is health anxiety as I am not well-versed in that aspect . What do you think about consulting a private GP or a mental health professional for a clearer idea of what you might be going through?

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