Health anxiety

Health anxiety is when you spend so much time worrying you're ill, or going to get ill, that it starts to take over your life. It's related to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Check if you have health anxiety

You may have health anxiety if you:

Anxiety itself can cause symptoms like headaches or a racing heartbeat, and you may mistake these for signs of illness.

Self-help for health anxiety

Keep a diary

Challenge your thoughts

Keep busy with other things

Get back to normal activities

Try to relax

See a GP if:

  • your worries about your health are preventing you leading a normal life
  • self-help is not working

Treatment for health anxiety

If a GP diagnoses you with health anxiety, they may refer you for a talking therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), or offer you a medicine for anxiety.

You can refer yourself directly to an NHS talking therapies service without a referral from a GP.

Find an NHS talking therapies service

If you can afford it, you can choose to pay for your therapy privately. The cost of private therapy sessions varies, but it can cost from £35 upwards per session.

Free therapy or low-cost sessions starting at £15 are sometimes available. Find out more from these charities:

The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies has a register of all accredited therapists in the UK, and The British Psychological Society has a directory of chartered psychologies, some of whom specialise in CBT.

More help for mental health