Health Anxiety and the Internet – working with client’s with Cyberchrondria.
In relation to certain anxieties, access to vast amounts of information on the internet and social media can be a double-edged sword. While it provides valuable resources for health-related concerns and education, it can also lead individuals to excessively research symptoms, diagnose themselves with serious conditions, and trigger health-related anxiety. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as "cyberchondria."
Not everyone experiences anxiety due to modern world factors like social media, and some individuals may use these platforms without significant negative effects on their mental health. However, for those prone to anxiety or who have pre-existing mental health conditions, the impact of social media and the modern world can exacerbate their symptoms. For individuals with health anxiety, exposure to information on rare and extreme cases of health-related incidents can indeed trigger heightened anxiety. They may perceive themselves as being at higher risk for such rare events, leading to increased worry and distress. This phenomenon is often referred to as "catastrophising," where individuals tend to imagine and focus on the worst-case scenarios.
As a mental health professional working with clients experiencing health anxiety, I believe it’s essential to consider these factors and help my clients find a healthy balance in their use of technology and social media. encouraging them to be mindful of their media consumption, teaching them critical thinking skills to evaluate information objectively, and guiding them to reliable and credible sources of health-related information can be helpful strategies to manage health anxiety.
When working with a client with health-related anxiety I help them to build resilience, manage their stress, and foster a healthy relationship with social media and how this healthy relationship can contribute to better mental well-being, even in the face of potential anxiety triggers. I understand that each individual client’s journey will be unique, and it's essential to tailor the therapy to their specific needs and circumstances.
Hypnotherapy and other evidence-based therapeutic approaches can be effective in helping clients with health anxiety challenge and reframe negative thought patterns, develop coping mechanisms, and reduce the overall anxiety related to health concerns.