OCD and Health Anxiety: What’s the Difference?

People with health anxiety, which is also called illness anxiety disorder, worry and fear too much about their health. People who have health anxiety may constantly check their bodies for any signs of illness, and they often mistakenly think that minor symptoms are signs of serious health problems. This focus on health can cause a lot of stress in daily life, multiple trips to the doctor, and overuse of medical resources. Overall, health anxiety has a big effect on a person’s mental health and quality of life, causing stress and worry about health problems that aren’t necessary. Below we will discuss is health anxiety a form of OCD.

Looking into Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and What It Looks Like

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental illness marked by unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and doing the same things over and over again (compulsions). Most of the time, these urges and obsessions are related to things like harm, contamination, or symmetry. People with OCD feel compelled to do these rituals to calm down or avoid something they fear will happen. OCD makes it very hard to go about daily life and can cause problems and distress in many areas, such as relationships, work, and social activities and is health anxiety a form of OCD is clearly explained in this.

Are Health Anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Alike?

Health anxiety and OCD have some things in common, like worrying too much and doing the same things over and over, but they are also very different. Health anxiety is mostly about worrying about your health and getting sick, while OCD is a more general term for a wide range of obsessions and compulsions that may or may not be related to your health. People with OCD may also have unwanted thoughts that aren’t related to their health, like worries about getting sick or not being safe, which isn’t usually seen in people with health anxiety.

How Do Mental Processes Affect OCD and Health Anxiety?

Both health anxiety and OCD are affected by the way people think and feel. When someone has health anxiety, they often think the worst, seeing small symptoms as signs of a serious illness. They may also selectively pay attention to how their bodies feel and be on the lookout for any changes all the time. In the same way, people with OCD have cognitive distortions like feeling too responsible or too perfect that feed their obsessions and compulsions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on these mental processes to help people think and deal with problems in more healthy ways.

Different Ways to Treat Health Anxiety and OCD

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used to treat health anxiety because it helps people recognize and question their irrational beliefs about health. People who are afraid of certain health situations can also be slowly exposed to them in exposure therapy, which can also help them learn how to deal with their anxiety. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, on the other hand, is often used to treat OCD. This therapy involves exposing people to their obsessive triggers while keeping them from doing compulsive behaviors. Medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may also be given to people with health anxiety and OCD to help ease their symptoms.

Living with Both Health Anxiety and OCD at the Same Time: A Tricky Intersection

It is common for people to have symptoms of both health anxiety and OCD at the same time. In this case, treatment might need to take into account both the unique aspects of each condition and how they affect and overlap with each other. This could mean creating a unique treatment plan that combines techniques from both health anxiety and OCD, with the goal of addressing the underlying cognitive distortions and unhealthy behaviors.