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Why do I worry about my health so much?

Q: I am a 47 years old man who keeps worrying about various body functions most of the time. Due to this I am unable to enjoy my life. The worrying intensifies when I read any article on health problems. How can I overcome this?

A:Anxiety - which is fear when there is no threat and no logical reason to be afraid - is experienced in many different ways. Some people have a terrifying panic attack, think they are having a heart attack and rush to the hospital emergency, only to find out their heart is fine, but they had a panic attack; fearful terror without danger. Other people have social anxiety - fear of people, especially strangers. And some, perhaps like you, have an obsessive type of anxiety. They worry anxiously about something where there is no danger. Fear of germs? Wash your hands for hours a day, until they are raw and bleeding. Fear of criminals? Stay locked in your house. Fear of illness? Worry over every cramp in a muscle, every unusual sensation in your body. People with obsessional anxiety usually know in their logical mind that their fear is excessive, but anxiety is a powerful emotion that is not usually overcome by logic alone. Certain medications that lower anxiety can help. Cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy by a well- trained mental health professional can help. Without help, a person with obsessive anxiety may live in good health while worrying every day for the rest of their life.

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