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Health anxiety

Private treatment, therapy and support in London for health anxiety at Schoen Clinic Chelsea

When you worry so much about your health that it begins to control your life, this is what we call health anxiety.

Health anxiety (also referred to as illness anxiety disorder or hypochondria) can preoccupy your every moment to the extent you stop being able to undertake or complete even minor tasks.

two adults sat opposite each other in a therapy session for health anxiety

What is health anxiety?

Health anxiety is the obsessive or irrational worry about having or developing a serious medical condition. Health anxiety is usually marked by an individual's imagination or misinterpretation of physical symptoms of illness. In many cases of health anxiety, the person will confuse normal body sensations, such as muscle twitching or fatigue, with a serious illness and become increasingly anxious about it. Instead of the perceived illness itself, it's this excessive anxiety that causes extreme distress that might interfere with their life.

Anxiety disorders are chronic conditions with varying degrees of severity. It could get worse as you get older or under stress. But you can reduce your anxiety with psychological therapy and, on occasion, medicines.

What's the difference between health anxiety and a general concern for your health?

As we all recover from the global COVID-19 pandemic, it's understandable to experience some anxiety or worried thoughts about your health, but if health anxiety is taking over your life it's important to take back control.

It's reasonable to be worried if your body is exhibiting symptoms of an illness. Constantly believing you have a symptom (or a few symptom(s) of) a serious illness is a sign of health anxiety and this can become overwhelming and incapacitating.

If you're concerned about your health you should definitely speak to your doctor or other professional. If medical test results come back negative and physicians tell you that you're well, people with health anxiety will experience intense discomfort over their actual or imagined symptoms. This situation goes beyond the typical worry for one's health and therein lies the difference.

Our specialist health anxiety therapists at Schoen Clinic Chelsea have successfully treated various anxiety disorders for many years. We have the expertise and understanding to offer you therapeutic and medical help to change negative and destructive thought patterns and preoccupation with your physical health, with personalised treatment options that'll give you the best chance of recovery.

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Get in touch with our health anxiety specialists in London

If you need help to overcome the challenges of health anxiety, please reach out to our caring team in London today. We have appointments available in as little as 24 hours so you can begin treatment with minimal wait.

To access private treatment as swiftly as possible, simply fill out our online pre-screening questionnaire at any time to suit you.

How much does health anxiety treatment cost?

The cost of different types of treatment, therapy or support will vary. See our full breakdown of our prices and funding options for more information or specific costs.

What are some of the common symptoms & causes of health anxiety?

Symptoms of health anxiety

Experiences of health anxiety can vary and be affected by the severity of the anxiety or culture. Individuals with health anxiety often misinterpret the physical symptoms of anxiety as a sign of a serious physical health concern such as:

  • Increased heart rate or palpitations

  • Upset stomach or nausea

  • Sweating or trembling

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dizziness or faintness

  • Muscle tension.

These may exist alongside more behavioural and psychological symptoms such as:

  • Constant worry of becoming ill

  • Preoccupation with certain conditions

  • Frequent seeking of medical information.

These lists are not comprehensive, but if these symptoms are familiar, or you're concerned about a loved one, start your health anxiety treatment journey today by getting in touch with our specialists at Schoen Clinic to seek a professional medical diagnosis.

Causes of health anxiety

Although the precise causation of health anxiety disorder is unknown, the following things might be contributing factors:

  • Beliefs - You don't understand how your body feels, how illnesses work, or both. You could believe that the symptoms in your body are the result of a dangerous illness. This prompts you to search for proof that you do, in fact, have a serious illness. You could find it challenging to tolerate ambiguity regarding unpleasant or strange physical feelings, which may leading you to look for proof that you are suffering from a serious illness.

  • Family - If your parents or other close family members constantly worried about their own health or yours, you may be more prone to experiencing health anxiety.

  • Past experiences - Physical feelings could terrify you since you may have experienced acute disease as a youngster.

What type of life experiences are at greater risk of developing health anxiety?

Developing health anxiety is more common in early or mid-adulthood but can get worse as you age. In older people, this may present as concerns about developing memory loss. Other risk factors include:

  • A stressful event

  • Suffering abuse as a child

  • Suffering from a serious illness in youth, or having a family member with a serious illness

  • The possibility of being diagnosed with a serious illness that turns out to not be serious

  • Excessively checking health and/or symptoms online

  • Having a worrying personality type.

How do you diagnose health anxiety?

The nature of health anxiety is such that the person experiencing it is unaware that they have mental health needs; often it is those people around you who joke that you are a ‘hypochondriac’ or professionals who tell you there is nothing wrong and stop worrying.

Eventually, when people have made a large number of visits to their doctor and sought various diagnostic tests to seek reassurance or to try and validate their feelings. The fear of illness still persists even when results of investigations are returned suggesting there is nothing wrong.

In the case of health anxiety (hypochondria), fear of a significant health condition or death is the main concern; this can sometimes be confused with having a somatoform disorder. Somatisation is where a person has physical symptoms for which there is no explanation for them, and the causative factor is internalised anxiety and depression. The first step to recovery is a professional medical diagnosis for health anxiety, from a mental health specialist.

At Schoen Clinic Chelsea, our specialists address your individual fears and disorders during the diagnostic phase. The clinical diagnosis can be supported by specific questionnaires. Further physical examinations are not usually necessary but can be arranged if required. Our health anxiety diagnosis procedure is designed to be friendly, and welcoming, and to put you at ease so that you can focus on recovery.

Suffering from health anxiety can mean excessive worry, presenting itself as a result of consultations with doctors, or investing a lot of time researching their symptoms and potential illnesses. In extreme situations, suffering can ruin a person's life. Their everyday tasks may be hampered, their professional performance may suffer, and their relationships may even become strained. Fortunately, there are techniques you may use to manage your health anxiety, and the first step of your health anxiety treatment is diagnosis.

If you are experiencing ongoing health anxiety, please don't suffer in silence. Avoid attempting to tough it out alone if you feel like everything is becoming too much for you. We offer a variety of outcome-based treatments and specialist therapies for treating health anxiety at our Chelsea clinic.

Private specialised health anxiety treatment and therapy at our leading London clinic

When health anxiety becomes debilitating and prevents you from doing things you previously enjoyed or are responsible for, we will work with you to address the underlying triggers and equip you with the skills to reduce the feelings of anxiety and increase your self-confidence and self-esteem. We will work with you holistically towards a full recovery, using personalised treatment plans that are bespoke to your symptoms, needs and severity of your health anxiety.. Health anxiety disorders can be treated with a combination of treatment and therapies.

We use both individual and group treatment as part of multimodal therapy at Schoen Clinic. The purpose of the therapy is to teach you better coping mechanisms for your health anxiety. The targets for enhancing your coping mechanisms will be determined in collaboration with you. We will assist you in progressively learning techniques for lowering and recovering from your health anxiety.

We will decide on a treatment and therapy plan based on the degree of your health anxiety and your capacity for group work and individual therapy. Working in groups may be the first step in acquiring new skills for certain people. The groups are supportive and understand health anxiety with others in the group able to relate to these experiences.

Some of the treatments and therapies we can offer include:

Therapies and medication: Psychotherapy alone is typically all that is used to treat your illness if it is reducing your health anxiety. However, some people may not benefit from psychotherapy alone. If this applies to you, your doctor might suggest taking a certain medication.

Relaxation tips and mindfulness: The practice of mindfulness involves deliberately focusing our attention on our thoughts, our surroundings, and our actions. Despite having its roots in meditation, the discipline has found increasing utility in therapy. In reality, studies have demonstrated that people with health anxiety benefit greatly from the practice of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).

A popular mindfulness exercise is the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise. Look around and identify:

Meet our health anxiety specialists at Schoen Clinic Chelsea in London

Our team specialises in the treatment of health anxiety, meaning you know you're in the safest hands. Backed by years of experience in counselling, specialist therapy techniques, and tried and tested approaches to treatment, our compassionate team is dedicated to setting you on the road to recovery.

Dr James Woolley

Consultant Psychiatrist | ADHD Specialist

Dr James Woolley

Pilar Isla Rodriguez


Pilar Isla Rodriguez

Evangelia Mylona


Evangelia Mylona

Kristin McCarthy

Integrative Therapist

Kristin McCarthy

Dr Tara Tofiq

Consultant General Adult Psychiatrist

Dr Tara Tofiq

Dr Divina Pillay

Consultant Psychiatrist

Dr Divina Pillay

Dr Gil Myers

Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist

Dr Gil Myers

Dr Daniel Masud

Consultant General & Addictions Psychiatrist | ADHD Specialist

Dr Daniel Masud

Dr Margherita Tanzarella

Consultant Psychiatrist | ADHD Specialist

Dr Margherita Tanzarella

Isabelle Nussbaum

Integrative Counsellor & Psychotherapist

Isabelle Nussbaum

Dr Edel McAndrew

Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Dr Edel McAndrew

Gabriele Malinauskaite

Lead Psychotherapist

Gabriele Malinauskaite
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