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Menopause Matters magazine ISSUE 76 out now. (Summer issue, June 2024)

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Author Topic: Severe health anxiety  (Read 3783 times)

Clair3

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Severe health anxiety
« on: July 31, 2023, 07:25:37 PM »

Hi I’m new here and feel so alone. I’m 45 and am pretty sure I’m going through Peri. my periods are fairly regular but are very heavy, they seem to be a couple of days late alternate months but are lasting 8 days where they used to be 5. I’m angry at the drop of a hat and have literally no motivation to do anything at all.  I’m comfort eating because thinking of being healthy seems like too much effort so I’ve gained weight, have random dry patches but the worst thing is that my mental health has gone drastically downhill. I’ve lost any rationality when it comes to bodily symptoms. I’m convinced I’m dying every day and I can’t make any plans because I feel like I will either be dead or battling a terminal illness. I know part of it is a reaction to the fact that my husband has an inoperable brain tumour together with  general anxiety ( that I’m medicated for anyway ) but I just don’t know how to help myself. I’m sorry this is such a miserable post I’d just like to know if anyone else is suffering from this anxiety or how they are helping themselves?  :'(
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Flossieteacake

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Re: Severe health anxiety
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2023, 07:32:31 PM »

Hello Clair3 and a warm welcome to the forum. You have such a lot going on so no wonder you are feeling the way you do. I am so sorry to hear such sad news about your husband. Are you getting any support for this? It is a lot for you to take in and to deal with.

It sounds to me like you do have peri symptoms. If anxiety is hormonal related then HRT can be a huge help. Many members have joined the forum due to anxiety and HRT has been a huge help with the anxiety. Would you feel comfortable having a chat to your GP?

Periods can be very erratic in peri too.
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SarahT

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Re: Severe health anxiety
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2023, 07:58:34 PM »

Hello Clair
I just wanted to welcome you too. I echo Flossie in saying you have an awful lot going on, I am sorry life is so hard.
Yes, anxiety ( in its many froms) can be a symptom of perimenopause, your existing anxiety may well be worsening because of the hormonal changes.
My anxiety went through the roof with peri. Hrt can indeed help with this and other symptoms too. I have also added  an anti depressant into my regime too.

I would also suggest speaking with a gp to discuss hrt to see if that is a way you may choose to go.
Feel free to.ask any questions or just to ask for some support or  for a rant, this is a great forum for just such things

 take care
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DottyD68

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Re: Severe health anxiety
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2023, 09:20:18 PM »

Hi Clair3

Sorry to hear you are feeling so low. The health anxiety you describe sounds very much linked to perimenopause from my experience. It will be made worse by the fact your husband is poorly - so sorry to hear about his condition - it must be so tough for you.

When I started the perimenopause journey I had a number of "young" close family and friends diagnosed with a variety of serious (& terminal) conditions over a short period of time and it floored me. I am a very rational person but with each new and varying symptom I became convinced that I had one serious disease or another. I read a couple of books about how to try to deal with HA and the one that sticks in my head kept stating that each time you had a bad thought you should ask yourself what the probability was that you had X disease. In most (all) cases the probability was low and therefore the likelihood was low. It's very easy to say all this but actually it did calm me down (& still does) when I have that stomach-dropping feeling of ultimate doom. I have become so worn down by it all that after 9 years I am so exhausted with it that when I have yet another terminal-looking symptom I just think "oh well at least I know what Im going to die of". It sounds ridiculous but it's the way I deal with it. I also now have the approach of "give it a week or so to see if it disappears". Invariably it does go away.....until the next thing appears. So I suppose what Im trying to say is that you are not alone.

I agree with other suggestions that you speak to your GP and see what help is available to you given the perimenopause and your husband's condition.

There is hope. Look after yourself X
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Penguin

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Re: Severe health anxiety
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2023, 06:04:32 AM »

Hi
Another HA sufferer here. Mine also started during the peri journey and was exacerbated by my godmother having a very late diagnosis and dying of cancer, and then my mum dying in 2021 (not of cancer, but something equally uncontrollablethat they couldnt even identify to treat). To the point I have such a phobia of any type of cancer that my body reacts even walking past bus stops with Macmillan ads on. I have tried a number of things over the last couple of years, including cbt (which gave me tools to use when I'm feeling calm enough to use them). I still see a counsellor which helps as she helps draw out what is really worrying me rather than what I have diverted my anxiety to. But the main thing that helped was starting a low dose anti depressant in August last year and hrt in December. The anxiety still gets me but I come down from each incident quicker, at which point I can then use the cbt tools. It would defo be worth asking for a course of cbt if you can, some Trusts let you self refer.
I agree with Dotty re looking at possibility vs probability.  Just because you might have something doesn't mean it's likely that you do. You could even do a pie chart amd plot in all the other, more innocent things it could be, applying %s to each. You'll then see how small the % of the sinister thing actually is As my GP says to me often, it's all about context. Taking one or two symptoms in isolation is not enough to give you a diagnosis, that's what GPs go to med school for all the years that they do for, to be able to look at all options, including differential diagnoses and apply context about YOU, not the general population.

I learnt through cbt that HA is pretty much overestimating the probability of something awful being wrong with you, overestimating the severity if did have it, and underestimating your ability to deal with it / fix it / cope with it.

Also to add, for the whole of last year until my surveillance colonoscopy I did the same as you, couldn't make plans as thought I'd either be too anxious to go, or would be undergoing treatment for my as yet undiagnosed illness. One thing I realised is that it helps to put things in with the caveat you can always cancel them. Since covid we've done that with trips anyway. And being clear to friends that I struggle with anxiety re planning ahead so they are aware I may cancel at short notice. It has worked so far.

This is really horrible, I feel for you so much, and I do hope you can try some of the things suggested on this thread
 Or at least keep talking about it amd your fears, nothing worse than it whirling around in your head.
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CLKD

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Re: Severe health anxiety
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2023, 08:13:27 AM »

Morning Girls.  Anxiety is dreadful, I have a phobia which ruled my Life for over 35 years  :'(

Clair3 - sorry to hear about your husband's diagnosis.  What support are you both getting from the Hospital, is there a dedicated Nurse assigned to your husband?  Many hospitals have patient support groups, in Norfolk it's PALS - do find out as they can discuss issues with you from a non-clinical point of view as well as acting as intermeiaridarys.  [sp].

Depending upon your husband's employment, there maybe a health scheme in the Company who can give advice.

Marie Curie Nurses and Macmillan will offer advice too.  I believe that the latter charity have a one-off payment for patients to help with immediate money worries.  Thinking ahead to the 'end plan' may well help to get through each day as it puts those worries to bed.  There are also child and adult brain-related charities raising monies for further research so do get someone to find out: of course your husband's medical team should have pointed you both in that direction but there's rarely joined up thinking in hospitals these days.

Make sure that you have time for yourself: reading, a long bath, a brisk walk ........

Keep posting.   :foryou:

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Ermin2trude

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Re: Severe health anxiety
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2023, 11:40:49 AM »

Hi Clair3,

HA is definitely my worst symptom of peri menopause and/or menopause (I have no idea where I am on the spectrum). It can take over and ruin my life so I was told to do the following and take back control. It has worked.

Down one side of a sheet of paper I list the following symptoms (all common in peri):
Abdominal pain
Allergies
Altered sense of sense
Anxiety
Bloating
Brain fog
Breast pain/tenderness
Brittle nails
Burning mouth
Constipation
Cramps
Crying spells
Diarrhoea
Difficulty breathing
Difficulty concentrating
Difficulty sleeping
Dizziness or feeling faint
Dry eyes
Dry hair
Dry skin
Facial hair
Feeling nervous
Frequent urination
Gum issues
Hair loss or thinning
Headache
Heart palpitations
heartburn
Hot flushes
Irritability
Itching
Joint pain
Low mood or depression
Migraine
Mood swings
Nausea or sickness
Might sweats
Panic attacks
Pressure in head
Tinnitus
Tired/low energy
UTI
Vaginal dryness
Wind
Wrinkles

Across the top of the page I put the numbers 1-28 (or however long your cycle is) and starting day 1 as the first day of my period, I put a cross against the relevant symptoms experienced on that day.

It showed me that there was a cyclical pattern to all my symptoms and it was absolutely hormonal rather than terminal or sinister . It certainly gave me some kind of peace of mind and eased my anxiety. I had a solid record which I could keep referring back to. It also helped my GP to prescribe the right medication when I showed him the charts.

An alternative to this would be to download the balance app (it’s free), where you can log your daily symptoms and periods etc. it produces charts etc to show your GP. I’m old fashioned though and prefer a physical chart.

Maybe this simple approach could help you as well.
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SadieLou

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Re: Severe health anxiety
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2023, 11:11:48 PM »

I hope it's okay for another newbie to crash this thread.    :)

I found you lovely ladies in early June.  That's when my peri symptoms hit the stratosphere (but I didn't realize it was peri) and I Googled my symptoms (I now know not to do that!).

Anyway, before Google brought me here I was expecting my imminent demise from liver/stomach/pancreatic/colon/ovarian cancer (depending on the day) with a case of DVT thrown in for fun.    ;D

This is my first post.   I just wanted to echo the "you're not alone" and thank you all for sharing your experiences so openly.  You calm my mind.   Especially at 2am.   
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Taz2

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Re: Severe health anxiety
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2023, 11:46:14 PM »

Welcome SadieLou. You'll fit right in!  :)

Taz x  :welcomemm:
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SarahT

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Re: Severe health anxiety
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2023, 07:17:20 AM »

Welcome Sadie...
Take a look at the thread Things I Have Diagnosed Myself....we are all.prone to a panic when symptoms to crazy.

As you know from browsing, just ask anything, always someone so can lend an ear and some advice.
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Minicat

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Re: Severe health anxiety
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2024, 10:08:44 AM »

I can really relate to what you're going through, and I know how overwhelming it can feel. I was in a similar situation, but I've found some relief by switching to vaping. Recently, I visited this shop and discovered low-nicotine vapes, which have been a game-changer for managing my anxiety and stress. Along with vaping, seeking professional help or therapy has made a big difference for me.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2024, 05:56:56 PM by Minicat »
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merrygoround

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Re: Severe health anxiety
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2024, 09:32:36 AM »

The comment above, "At least I know what I'm going to die of" rings very true with me as well.

Since my mid-forties I've had tests and procedures for a lot of scary stuff and most of it came back negative. Now what I tell myself is that exact comment.

I had a bowel test in April. It came back positive for God only knows what. The doctor only said it wasn't negative so I would hear from the hospital in due course, probably for a colonoscopy, again I wasn't told so I googled it.

Yesterday I got a letter saying I was referred under the two week wait, phone for a date now.

I phoned, next available 2WW appt is in June!

She says I've to wait for my pack of laxatives in the post, then I can go on their list for possible cancellations, but mostly it's only dead people who cancel these days.

So I'm trying not to think 24/7 about it, guess how that's going?
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Penguin

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Re: Severe health anxiety
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2024, 09:55:13 AM »

Gosh so the 2WW is now a 2 month wait given you first had that test in April, that is shocking.

I hope your doctor gave you the stats that the vast majority of people with a positive FIT test will be absolutely fine? There's only like a 1-2% chance of it being anything. Plus it is far more likely to be something innocent like colon polyps (1 in 4 middle aged people have them and they can be quickly removed), piles, diverticulitis or some kind of inflammatory bowel condition. Unless you have really noticeable symptoms then the odds really are in your favour!
The wait sucks though, I feel for you. Reach out to your GP for something short term to help you get through if needed.
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merrygoround

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Re: Severe health anxiety
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2024, 11:14:52 AM »

Gosh so the 2WW is now a 2 month wait given you first had that test in April, that is shocking.

I hope your doctor gave you the stats that the vast majority of people with a positive FIT test will be absolutely fine? There's only like a 1-2% chance of it being anything. Plus it is far more likely to be something innocent like colon polyps (1 in 4 middle aged people have them and they can be quickly removed), piles, diverticulitis or some kind of inflammatory bowel condition. Unless you have really noticeable symptoms then the odds really are in your favour!
The wait sucks though, I feel for you. Reach out to your GP for something short term to help you get through if needed.
Thanks for the reassurance  :) I had thought it was a higher chance of something just because she referred me so quickly.
She didn't tell me a thing about it, I was in the car when she phoned and I had no idea what she was talking about for most of the call because I thought she was talking about the blood test that was abnormal, that they texted me about the day before!

My GP has the very annoying habit of talking about this, that or the other, calling everything "it" without actually naming what she's on about. If I ask for more detail she launches into scientific language I don't understand and I swear she does it to stop me asking.

I got another letter this morning confirming my red flag colonoscopy booking for next month and telling me my qFIT score was 90.
Strangely this letter, from the hospital, said my blood tests had been normal. I had to repeat because they weren't normal, does that mean the retest came back super quick I wonder. One of the blood tests was for celiac and the hospital have asked this to be done for completeness as there is no record of it ever having been done (any of the three times!)

I'm a bit scared of course, my uncle had bowel cancer and it comes back on repeat.
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Penguin

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Re: Severe health anxiety
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2024, 12:03:15 PM »

Gosh so the 2WW is now a 2 month wait given you first had that test in April, that is shocking.

I hope your doctor gave you the stats that the vast majority of people with a positive FIT test will be absolutely fine? There's only like a 1-2% chance of it being anything. Plus it is far more likely to be something innocent like colon polyps (1 in 4 middle aged people have them and they can be quickly removed), piles, diverticulitis or some kind of inflammatory bowel condition. Unless you have really noticeable symptoms then the odds really are in your favour!
The wait sucks though, I feel for you. Reach out to your GP for something short term to help you get through if needed.
Thanks for the reassurance  :) I had thought it was a higher chance of something just because she referred me so quickly.
She didn't tell me a thing about it, I was in the car when she phoned and I had no idea what she was talking about for most of the call because I thought she was talking about the blood test that was abnormal, that they texted me about the day before!

My GP has the very annoying habit of talking about this, that or the other, calling everything "it" without actually naming what she's on about. If I ask for more detail she launches into scientific language I don't understand and I swear she does it to stop me asking.

I got another letter this morning confirming my red flag colonoscopy booking for next month and telling me my qFIT score was 90.
Strangely this letter, from the hospital, said my blood tests had been normal. I had to repeat because they weren't normal, does that mean the retest came back super quick I wonder. One of the blood tests was for celiac and the hospital have asked this to be done for completeness as there is no record of it ever having been done (any of the three times!)

I'm a bit scared of course, my uncle had bowel cancer and it comes back on repeat.

Was the qFit requested by the GP? If done by GP the cutoff is 20 for a positive but through the main bowel screening programme it is 120, well in Enland at least. So if done that way, you wouldn't have even got a callback. 90 isn't high when talking about bowel cancer. Chances are it's a polyp or something minor like that and will be easily removed during the colonoscopy. My quit was 23 and my polyp was only 5mm bit still bled. Was absolutely fine!
« Last Edit: May 10, 2024, 01:14:58 PM by Penguin »
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