Our Health Anxiety Program consists of six weekly meetings led by Dr. Martin Diner. The program also includes five individual “homework” sessions with one of our anxiety counselors.
The exaggerated fear of physical illness is very common. Although not ordinarily listed among the anxiety disorders, such as agoraphobia or obsessive-compulsive disorder, the fear of serious physical illness, sometimes called hypochondriasis, can be just as troubling and debilitating.
The principal feature of this condition is the tendency to attribute ordinary physical symptoms to some obscure but serious illness. Reassurance by doctors provides no comfort, but rather serves paradoxically to maintain, even worsen, those fears.
When someone is seriously affected, he or she may go from doctor to doctor, distrusting what they say, yet demanding more and more attention and laboratory examination. They distrust their physicians’ advice. They are fearful of medication. They are resistant especially to a psychological explanation of their symptoms. Their behavior may seem ridiculous to others, even to themselves, but their distress is considerable. Their preoccupation with their physical condition often worsens to such a degree that their social and marital lives suffer and their ability to work is impaired.
Those with health anxiety share certain misconceptions about health. These fallacious ideas are what cause them to worry pointlessly and painfully about dangers that do not exist.
The Health Anxiety Program has two components:
Essential to this program are those methods of Cognitive-Behavioral therapy including the use of certified Phobia Counselors, which the Anxiety and Phobia Treatment Center pioneered beginning in 1971.