At the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Silicon Valley in Saratoga/San Jose, we offer cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for hypochondriasis or health anxiety. Our approach is practical, goal-oriented, compassionate, and scientifically-based while focusing on your individual needs.
What is Health Anxiety/Hypochondriasis?
Health Anxiety is the fear or belief that that one has a serious disease due to a misinterpretation of bodily sensations or an exaggeration of the likelihood of having a medical problem. People with health anxiety will believe they have a serious medical problem or worry excessively about getting an illness despite medical tests and reassurance from doctors and others.
Symptoms of Health Anxiety
- Belief or fear that you have a serious illness, despite evidence to the contrary.
- Reassurance seeking behaviors, such as asking to visit the doctor, internet searches about symptoms, and repeatedly mentioning symptoms to others.
- Constantly monitoring bodily functions and sensations.
- Avoiding things that remind you of illness, including hospitals and people who are ill.
- Withdrawing from social or recreational activities due to health concerns.
- Conflict or isolation from friends and family due to health concerns.
Cognitive Behavioral Model of Health Anxiety
Health anxiety arises out of the misinterpretation of normal and harmless bodily symptoms and sensations. It is normal to experience some “body noise,” such as feeling your heart beating or hearing your stomach churning. However, if you have health anxiety, when you experience an uncomfortable or unexpected bodily sensation, you will become extremely worried and believe something is wrong. With hypochondriasis, you may catastrophize when you notice something out of the ordinary, such as a skin rash or have a headache. You may believe you are more likely to have a medical problem or illness than you actually are and may have difficulty accepting that it is impossible to be 100% certain that you are illness-free. You will respond to health anxiety with safety behaviors (e.g. going to the doctor, staying close to hospitals), reassurance seeking (talking excessive about your symptoms, asking others for reassurance you are okay), checking behaviors (checking bodily functions, researching on the internet) and/or avoidance, which in turn reinforces your anxiety and inaccurate beliefs about your health.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for Health Anxiety
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for health anxiety focuses on helping you learn to tolerate uncomfortable bodily sensations without engaging in safety behaviors and to recognize and modify mistaken beliefs about their health. You will receive information about the causes of health anxiety, and how it is maintained by faulty beliefs, checking behaviors and ineffective attempts to receive reassurance. Cognitive techniques will help you evaluate your mistaken beliefs about your health and replace them with more accurate and effective ways of thinking. You will gradually face your fears and learn that you are able to handle the anxiety without engaging in safety behaviors.
Common Goals of Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Health Anxiety
- Reduce anxiety related to health concerns
- Reduce safety and reassurance seeking behaviors related to health
- Resume normal activities that were avoided due to health anxiety
Getting Help for Health Anxiety in the Saratoga/San Jose area
The Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Silicon Valley specializes in therapy and counseling for hypochondriasis/health anxiety. We are located in Saratoga on the border of San Jose and Saratoga just 1/2 mile from Highway 85. With our convenient location near highway 85, we serve the Silicon Valley communities of San Jose, Saratoga, Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Los Gatos, Los Altos, Cupertino and Campbell, CA. Contact us at (408) 384-8404 for more information on how we can help you manage your health anxiety.