Health anxiety and depression causing illness?

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Hi, I'm 36 and have had health anxiety (mainly around cancer) for as long as I can remember after seeing various family members die of it and helping my friend through one of her friends dying of it at 32. I'm literally convinced I'm going to be diagnosed with it and leave behind my partner and 8 mth old daughter.

So very recently things have turned for the worse for me mentally. I went to GP as had painful swallowing and throat hurt to touch down by thyroid for couple of weeks. Everything from thyroid cancer to hodgkins lymphoma went through my mind. GP said she thought it was viral as some lymph nodes were also swollen. I have since been back 4 times in the last 2 weeks and they keep saying I don't have cancer however they have run no tests on me so how can they know? I am also experiencing extreme tiredness and lethargy and have lost nearly a stone from loss of appetite. I'm now under 9 stone which I've never been. All of this points to Cancer to me and I started having thoughts about ending my life this week because I just can't carry on feeling so ill and worrying about it all the time. I feel like doctors now dismiss my concerns because they know about my anxiety. I'm paying for a 2nd opinion at a private hospital tomorrow because my life is just so miserable at the moment. I try really hard to be ok around my daughter but I just end up crying all the time. Can anyone tell me if this is all anxiety or if I really should be worried? Thank you for listening.

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  • Posted

    Hi Tinkerbell32! I too suffer from anxiety and when I first realized I had it was about a year ago. If my children were sick, it would bring about panic attacks and my thoughts were I was going to lose them. I would get sore throats weekly and lose my voice. I also had a dry cough daily with shortness of breath. I too started to think I had cancer or some type of thyroid disease. When I talked to my Dr about it, she said it sounded like acid reflex. She prescribed some medication for me, but because I already take meds for anxiety, I didn't want to take more medication. I decided to change my diet. I quit drinking coffee, eating foods high in acid, and lowered my sugar intake. All of these would trigger my acid reflux. I still get it time to time, but not nearly as bad as I had it before. I think having anxiety makes it difficult to look past the simple things. Please fight it through for your daughter's sake. She needs her momma! I will be praying for you!

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    • Posted

      Hi, thank you for responding. I too used to suffer with severe acid reflux and was on omeprazole for months. I also had gastritis. Obviously I thought I had oesphagal cancer and stomach cancer at the time. I'm just so sick of this anxiety now. My sister said what will be will be and if it is worst case scenario they will deal with it but she's so philosophical and I don't see it that way. I wish I could be strong but I'm not.

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    • Posted

      Hi - I am in the same position as you and I struggle to find people to talk to about it as they often have philosophical minds aswell or have never experienced the C word. I lost my dad to cancer and my mum had breast cancer a year later - the full works operation, chemo and radiotherapy! I am 36 this month and since my dad died convinced I am going to get the disease and it can’t be cured. I have acid reflux at present, I had one medicine for 4 weeks which has done nothing and now on something else. I’m panicking as had blood test done today and think if meds not working do I have something serious?? I need tips on how to handle health anxiety, I only get it when I have symptons that don’t go away?? I totally understand where you are coming from as I am a Mum to and I want to see my little man grow up. Please any tips welcomed 😊

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    • Posted

      Hi, sorry to hear your feeling like this too and that youve experienced that horrible C word. I know when I was having my reflux issues I was in the doctors constantly. However it took trying 3 different types of reflux tablets to get it under control. Stress was a major factor in getting reflux too. I had endoscopies and a colonoscopy because I too was convinced I had cancer. Unfortunately I'm exactly the same as you when it comes to symptoms that don't go away, my mind goes into overdrive so I can't give any advice how to handle it because I need that advice too. I have spoken to anxiety helplines before when ive been really low which helps mentally because they understand. My partner looks at it like why worry about something you can't change. He says what will be will be which I know is true but it doesn't help the anxiety.

      I think perhaps counselling would be good for you too especially as your health anxiety has been caused by seeing family members with C, like me. I know mine has got worse since having my daughter and I was told that's exactly what happens if you have anxiety already. Admitting you are struggling is the first step to getting better and I had to admit I had a problem only very recently in order to start some help, no matter what the outcome of my test results. x

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    • Posted

      In a weird way so great to hear someone else going through this and doesn’t think I’m mad!! Sounds like our partners are very similar, I know they are right - we can’t do anything to change the outcomes but the worry/anxiety really takes over my life. I’m due to see a counsellor on Monday as have struggled for several years with this condition. Even having a routine smear test sends me into meltdown! I had to wait 5 weeks for the latest result and I had several sleepless nights. I think what I struggle with is carrying on every day as well, when I’m on meltdown I just want to hide away and watch tv to try and distract me!! when you have a little one you still have to do all the things for them! Does that make sense?? I’m awful with Dr Google as well x
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    • Posted

      Hi jS007

      i had reflux and had a camera to reassure me.  I think it was vitamin d pills that were causing it as nothing was found on camera.  Just wondering if anything you are eating is causing it, also stress causes reflux.  Tomatoes or sauces and acidic fruit maybe just check things you’re eating for a cause of it x 

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    • Posted

      Yes the hardest bit is still having to be ok for your child because they still need feeding, changing, entertaining etc. I also just want to stay in bed or collapse on the sofa and not move but my 8 mth old doesn't allow it! smile I'm glad your seeing a counsellor because you sound exactly like me. Once you start hearing other people with the same worries, you start to realise it's more widespread. I just think most people don't talk about it because they think people will think they're mad. I know I thought that! We aren't alone in this x

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    • Posted

      Hi Sue162 

      I’m glad you had a camera to have a look - that is my worst fear. I get so anxious and think they are looking for sinister things?!! I have had it now for 6 weeks, every day - I tried lansaprazole for 4 weeks that did nothing so now I’m on rantidine 300mg. I cut out all the bad foods etc but made no difference to the reflux! nothing appears to trigger it off. I have it from when I wake up til when I sleep?!! Sore throat and burping after eating or drinking anything! Driving me mad!!! 

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    • Posted

      Hi again,

      yeah had the burping, gurgling, popping noises and feeling sick and pressure when a burp came up then no sickness feeling when I’d burped, the nausea puts you off food too doesn’t it.  I got headaches on the PPI so went on ranatadine, then it just went away.  They did the camera for reassurance and because of my age.   It may take some time for things to calm down after your meds.  Health anxiety is no fun x 

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  • Posted

    Hi Tinkerbell.  I hear you and all of your worries.  I aren’t surprised you worry after all you have been through, anyone would be the same.  Just wondering were you like this before you witnessed cancer?  I think your loss of weight is probably losing your appetite because you have been having these thoughts and worries, the more you worry the energy it takes from our mind is very high and then we have hardly anything left to focus on our body’s needs,  I witnessed my Mam die to cancer and was with her when she died and subsequently I’ve been like you worrying about cancer, I still do. From colon, to lymphoma, stomach cancer and the same as you trouble swallowing. I’m sure stress does it all though.  Do you sleep ok?  if you don’t and then you aren’t eating ok and then all the worrying on top, you will feel tired.  Just trying to reassure you.   Do you enjoy any hobbies or do you noice if you are distracted you don’t worry so much?  I’m exactly as you describe just to reassure you as often we have no one to chat to about worries.  I think when we have been with someone terminally ill, we have grieve to deal with, stress and then if we have no one it can lead to anxiety and depression, well that’s my own diagnosis anyway, but I also know that anyone would feel like this and a lot don’t go through this as well xx
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    • Posted

      Hi Sue, thank you for responding. I had post natal depression after I had my daughter which I managed to come through (or I thought I had). My health anxiety seems to be fueling it again though and life is just horrible at the moment feeling like this. The worst thing is the weight loss and appetite loss. The loss of appetite came on pretty suddenly and it was after I'd googled symptoms! However it still hasn't returned over a week later. I've been referred for counselling now for anxiety. Also had blood tests today and got an mri scan on Tues on thyroid. I'm scared but just glad someone is taking me seriously.

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    • Posted

      Hope your counselling goes ok and you don’t wait too long for it.  Try not to google though as cancer comes back on google all the time.  Try to cut that down if you can my dr tried to reassure me that there are lots of other explanations for things other than cancer.  At least if you are having these tests done then when they are ok that will have reassured you.  We know to enjoy life etc but it isn’t very hard with depression as the rational thoughts don’t get a look in only the bad thoughts.  I used to take one day at a time before my anxiety and depression set in, I feel much better being out though, I feel left with my thoughts when I’m in.  Try to think that you are having tests done, don’t google and hopefully your appetite may creep back up.   Let us know how your mri went. xx
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    • Posted

      Thank you, i will let you know. I found out yesterday that my mum and aunt are on thyroid medication so it may be hereditary? Either way I just need to know what this is now for my daughter's sake because her mummy cant enjoy her at the moment sad I will try and take 1 day at a time for now until I get results back however hard that may be. It's my birthday on Sat so I need to try and enjoy that at least x

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    • Posted

      Thank you, i will let you know. I found out yesterday that my mum and aunt are on thyroid medication so it may be hereditary? Either way I just need to know what this is now for my daughter's sake because her mummy cant enjoy her at the moment sad I will try and take 1 day at a time for now until I get results back however hard that may be. It's my birthday on Sat so I need to try and enjoy that at least x

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    • Posted

      Hi

      yeah do something good on Saturday with your daughter.  If it comes back thyroid and you need meds it’s easy to say but there is an explanation for your health and it will be sorted then.  That also can explain anxiety if it’s not the reading it should be, plus people are listening to you now which is half the battle. X

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