Is there Treatment for Illness Anxiety Disorder?
Illness anxiety disorder can quickly develop into a debilitating condition that all but destroys a person’s quality of life. Fortunately, a range of treatment options exists to treat this condition. While some people may only require one type of treatment, others may need additional forms of treatment to see positive results.
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Illness Anxiety Disorder
According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, people affected by illness anxiety disorder obsess over their physical health, fearing an illness or disease will develop. Over time, compulsive worrying can actually bring on symptoms of illness.
Once symptoms start to appear, a person enters into a self-perpetuating cycle of worry and physical symptoms. In effect, people struggling with this condition have lost control of their ability to stop thinking or worrying about their health condition.
Within the U. S., rates of illness anxiety disorder are equal for men and women.
Treatment options for illness anxiety disorder can vary depending on a person’s overall psychological status. As anxiety disorders in general tend to develop alongside depression symptoms, someone experiencing symptoms of both conditions would likely require a different treatment approach than someone who hasn’t developed depression symptoms.
According to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, in some cases, an actual medical condition may be contributing to symptoms of pain or discomfort; however, psychological factors remain the distinguishing characteristic with illness anxiety disorder.
In general, anxiety disorders are highly treatable conditions. Standard treatment options commonly used include:
- Medication treatment
- Alternative treatment approaches
As thinking patterns and belief systems regarding self play a central role in the development of illness anxiety disorder, psychotherapy treatment works especially well at helping a person work through underlying issues. Types of therapy used include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy – focuses on identifying and changing destructive thinking and behavior patterns
- Exposure therapy – works to reduce symptom severity by gradually exposing a person to situations that invoke anxiety or distress
People struggling with severe forms of illness anxiety disorder may well require medication treatment along with psychotherapy. With severe conditions, symptom severity has the reached the point where significant brain chemical imbalances exist.
Medication treatments work to restore normal chemical balance in the brain and provide relief for distressing symptoms. Medications commonly used include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
- Tricyclic antidepressants
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Alternative treatments, also known as complementary medicine, can be used alongside standard treatment approaches. Treatments commonly used to help relieve illness anxiety disorder symptoms include:
- Relaxation techniques
- Meditation practices
- Acupuncture/acupressure therapies
Another alternative treatment comes in the form of an herbal supplement, known as Kava. Kava works well at relieving anxiety symptoms and improving overall mood states.
As with any psychological disorder, the longer a condition persists the harder it is to treat. Over time, symptoms of illness anxiety disorder start to impair a person’s ability to manage daily life affairs. Without needed treatment help, a person’s physical and psychological well-being will continue to see ongoing decline as symptom severity worsens.