Over the past 20 years, health anxiety has been accepted as a disorder in which the central feature is a persistent fear by the sufferer that he/she has a serious physical illness, despite medical reassurances that there is nothing medically wrong. It used to be accepted that there was no treatment for severe health anxiety; (also known as hypochondriasis). However, there are now published reports of successful cognitive-behavioural treatment (CBT) for this distressing condition.Health anxiety is now routinely treated successfully by trained cognitive behavioural therapists.

Most of us are likely to be affected by emotional problems at some stage in our lives, and this is more likely to occur at times when the stress of life is increased by major life.

Feeling down or anxious will affect our day to day existence, influencing our thoughts and behaviours, how we relate to others, and our work performance. Some emotional difficulties may have commenced recently, but others may have been with us since childhood. These may range from difficulties which cause minor inconvenience, through to difficulties that affect our daily living. A fear of bungee jumping may not greatly impact on our lives, but a fear of leaving our own home most certainly will.

Let’s look at the role of thoughts first. Many of us tend to think that the way we feel is simply a result of what happens to us. For example, someone criticises me and I feel upset. CBT says that this simple model misses out a critical step. If it was just the event (the criticism) that caused the feeling, then the same event would have to cause the same feeling in everyone. Everybody who was criticised would feel the same way about it. But we know that this is not true. Different people may have very different reactions to the same event. CBT says that what makes this crucial difference is the individual’s interpretation of the event.

It is not the event itself which makes me feel upset, but rather what I take the event to mean. In other words, events are always filtered through my individual thoughts and beliefs about them. If I had different thoughts about the event I would end up feeling differently.

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Author's Bio: 

My professional training has been exclusively in CBT. I trained initially in Belfast and then I did further advanced training in CBT in the renowned Kings College London, where I trained in the BECK/PADESKY model (this is the main CBT model).