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Yumeno

150d

What is the best way to handle health anxiety? I have been having extremely catastrophic thoughts related to my physical symptoms even though the underlying cause is stress (to be more specific, I have TMJ/jaw clenching which my doctor said stems from anxiety and I've been going through an unstable time lately). I also tend to panic over medications even if they're ones that were prescribed to me or over-the-counter meds that my doctor approves of.

    • Redvelninja

      136d

      Oh. Ok like I have anxiety myself so I get it. I guess for me I don't really experience that type of anxiety too much.

    • Redvelninja

      138d

      I'm just really confused. How does that work?

      • Yumeno

        138d

        @Redvelninja What part are you confused about?

        • Redvelninja

          138d

          @Yumeno I'm confused about how someone could get anxious about health over all..

    • dolphinblues

      150d

      Having anxiety over your health is hard to deal with at times. I tend to go to the worst-case scenario and spiral whenever a new symptom arises. Even when a Dr tells me possible reasons for my symptoms. For example: horrible headaches. Dr. tells me possible reasons are cluster migraines, seizures, aneurysm, or tumor. My sister is an aneurysm survivor. Hers leaked instead of bursting. If it had burst, she would not have lived. So, I immediately thought, "OMG! I have an aneurysm, and I'm going to die!" I have both migraines and partial onset seizures. Both are treatable with meds. How I deal with anxiety: If I'm overly worried, I distract myself with puzzles and watching tv. Something that keeps my hands and mind busy. If I am catastrophizing: I remind myself that the worst-case scenario is not likely to happen, and I will not freak out until I know without a doubt there is something to freak out over. Then, I distract myself with something that keeps my mind busy. Learning how to talk yourself down is the key. Whatever your triggers are, find what reduces their effects. Find what distracts your thoughts the most effectively. For me, it's puzzles, especially word puzzles (like boggle, word stacks, and any word association games) and watching TV. I also use adult coloring books as a distraction technique. What is it about the medications or OTCs that is causing you to have anxiety? I have TMJ as well, and it took me forever to connect it to my anxiety. One thing that has helped me with my jaw locking is half smiling. The muscles in my face, especially around the mouth and jaw, were super tense all the time. This, along with my anxiety, led to a lot of my jaw locking on me, not to mention jaw pain. A counselor had me practice half smiling because people constantly thought I was mad when I wasn't. I was frowning all the time and didn't even realize it. Eventually, the half smile became my resting face. The muscles in my face relaxed, and the locking occurred less often. I still clenched my teeth, especially at night. What helped with that was mouth exercises to release the tension and holding my teeth slightly apart (just enough that teeth are not touching) anytime I realized I was clenching. Eventually, that became the natural way I hold my jaw/teeth, and I don't clench anymore. (Mouth exercise: open jaw as wide as you can. Then, over exaggerate a smile while closing your mouth. Do this until the tension in jaw and mouth muscles release.)

      • Yumeno

        150d

        @dolphinblues Thank you so for replying, it helps to hear from someone who goes through the same things I do since now I feel less alone, though I am sorry since I know how scary and annoying all of that is. A lot of my fear comes from headaches and migraines. I've been checked out by doctors and it sounds like there's a lot of factors that contribute to them (genetics, high levels of anxiety, my jaw clenching issues causing me head pain, insomnia and not enough sleep). I've never had a seizure but getting one is another fear of mine after a close friend of mine had one recently. The distractions you mentioned are great, thanks! I usually do some of the things you mentioned like adult coloring and puzzles but sometimes if I'm in a situation where I can't do much at the moment or my anxiety is really high, my mind starts to wander into that Catastrophe Territory we know all too well! What scares me about meds is the chance of rebound headaches if I use them for too many days in a row. Logically I know I shouldn't be too panicked because I don't use my meds every day, I take the minimum dose only when I'm in pain, and I'm fine not taking them daily, but I feel like if I make a conscious effort and tell myself "Okay, I'm going to avoid taking meds for any headaches I have today" that's when I start to overly obsess over it, constantly check if I'm feeling headache symptoms or not, and so on. And yeah, like I said before I can be off my headache meds and feel fine but my brain starts to come up with reasons why I won't be fine, I'll feel like I "ruined" my body somehow, and I worry myself into an anxiety attack. It's awful but I don't get much support from people who don't know what it's like... I know my brain is catastrophizing but I just can't stop it. Finally, I can totally relate to looking mad when I'm not but I never connected it to TMJ and frowning! (I always thought it was just my eyes but other people have heavy eyelids and don't look "angry") I would love to be able to train my face like you did and will take your advice, thank you. About how long did it take for relaxing your muscles to come naturally for you? I think nighttime will still be tough but I'll try the jaw exercises, thank you.

        • dolphinblues

          149d

          @Yumeno You are very welcome! I hope it helps. It took a while for me to be consistent with half smiling. Once consistent, it probably took no more than a month for me to automatically do it. It takes twice as many muscles to frown than it does to smile. It's amazing how different your face will feel once you reteach your muscles what to do. 😊

☝ This content is generated by our users and it is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision

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Some ways to handle health anxiety include distracting oneself with activities such as drawing, talking to a friend, reading, or watching a favorite show. Practicing mindfulness and positive thinking can also be beneficial. It's important not to overthink physical symptoms or compare them to medical shows. Taking prescribed medication can help manage the anxiety. Surrounding oneself with calming people and reminding oneself that they've gotten through this before can also be helpful.

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