Psychologist Questions Anxiety

How to deal with the anxiety of getting cancer?

I recently lost a loved one after a long battle with cancer. Ever since I have been suffering from extreme anxiety and a crippling fear that I too will get it. Every pain, ailment or feeling I get makes me think I could have cancer. I recently had headaches and despite the doctor telling me it was nothing, I went to the ER, got a cat scan which was normal and then requested that I also receive an MRI...of course this was normal as well. I know this isnot normal behavior.

I don't want to live like this and no matter how much I try to talk myself down, I cant beat it. Is there any type of special therapy that would help me deal with this?

15 Answers

I am so sorry to hear about your loss! Grief manifests in a variety of ways and anxiety is common. I find cognitive behavioral therapy is the most effective way to deal with your anxiety, as well as your grief. Please call me to discuss at 443-207-1809.
Dr. Crone
Hi, thanks for your question and I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your loved one. For some people, a recent loss can trigger anxiety-based behaviors that were not a problem prior to the loss. Given your loved one's battle with cancer, that fear intensifying makes sense for you at this time. Fear and anxiety reactions can be very powerful and extremely uncomfortable.

In order to feel better and make the anxiety go down, we usually seek out some kind of proof the situation is really OK - like going to the doctor and ER. Usually people feel better for a while, then there is a new twinge, or a flutter beat of your heart, so a new pain or trouble sleeping and the cycle starts over again.

There are talk therapies designed to address overly intense fears. Exposure therapy is one of the main types shown to be effective in helping people cope with and reduce overwhelming and obsessive fears. Supportive therapy and grief counseling might also be appropriate if there are issues related to the loss of your loved one that are a part of your recent concerns.

It's not appropriate for me to provide direct advice about how you should handle your situation, but I can confirm there are psychotherapies designed to address the type of situation you describe in your question. If you are interested in seeking professional help, look for a therapist who has experience with exposure therapy to treat phobias and medical fears. Clinicians in this area often describe themselves as using a cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT approach. Specific mention of exposure therapy with response prevention and experience with medical phobias/fears could be helpful.
I'm so sorry for your loss and my delayed response. It sounds as though you are experiencing an Acute Stress Disorder and I would contact a licensed psychologist in your area who is experienced in working with those with Acute Stress Disorder or PTSD and grief counseling. Also finding a provider who is familiar with EDMR therapy could be useful.

I hope this information was helpful.
God Bless.
Dr. B

Brandi Buchanan, PhD
Clinical Neuropsychologist
Dallas Neuropsychology
I am very sorry for your loss. Dealing with loss of loved ones takes time, and can include various reactions such as great sadness, anxiety, psychosomatic reactions, panic attacks and others. They are best worked through in psychotherapy, or as we call it "talk therapy" where we get a chance to process and work through the loss. This is often followed by great symptom relief. Respectfully, Dr. Hirshfeld
In my opinion, the best treatment for your health-related anxiety is cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) which is what I employ. As applied to what you describe, the first step is to identify your fear-producing thoughts. Then, the CBT therapist helps you to challenge these anxiety-producing thoughts and helps you to come up with a rational perspective. You are then
taught how to apply the technique when needed. Relaxation techniques are also frequently taught in CBT.

Dr. William Golden
I'm so sorry that you have been suffering so much anxiety. Your loss was profound and traumatic. I think it would be helpful for you to speak to a professional counselor who has a solid knowledge of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. You seem to be catastrophyising every symptom you are experiencing. CBT could be useful to neutralize your concerns. Talking to someone knowledgeable will be helpful in and of itself.

Wishing you well,
Rosalyn Eig, LCSW, BCD
It sounds like you have experienced a big loss and are now grieving. One of the main reasons that cancer is so overwhelming is because it is out of our control. The causes are often not known, it comes on suddenly and even with the best treatment it may not be curable. It sounds like you have transferred a great deal of your anxiety about this loss on to yourself and are trying to exert some sort of "control" in order to protect yourself. I recommend that along with psychotherapy pinpointed at treating the anxiety, you also do grief therapy to process your loss. Good luck you. Dr. Alyson Nerenberg
The fear is understandable. Your fear is not so much the cancer as it is the death that comes often. The best way to deal with this is visiting with a professional who will keep you in a reality check.

I deal with people dealing in panic attacks, rape victims, and people like you that have issues disrupting your life. I do treat via phone for much less than having to going in to a psychologist office. If you are interested you may contact me via phone 402-340-8203
First, let me apologize for the terrible experience and the loss of your loved one. What you are conveying is a common reality of deep remorse and longing for the individual. This is also the nature of having a traumatic experience, and the anxiety itself is trying to compete with the grief. There is a need to forgive yourself and have a better understanding of all that took place, and free yourself of any unconscious guilt. This takes trust and transparency in allowing an individual with specific insight, preferably someone skilled in Emotional Focused Therapy & Grief. I would like to help you along this journey. Keep in mind it is not a quick-fix process, but it is the beginning of closure and restoration needed to live your best life moving forward. Where cancer is concerned, I believe once you understand the limitations that you can prevent it. You will come to arrest and isolate the ability to threaten quality of life.
Hello, I would encourage you to seek therapy from a licensed mental health provider (licensed psychologist, licensed professional counselor, licensed clinical social worker) for psychotherapy.
There are a couple ways to proceed. I am sorry for your loss. Regarding loss of your loved one, there are local grief support groups. They are typically conducted with 4-6 participants and a professional group leader. They can be very helpful. Depending on where you live you could do a google search for groups. Sometimes hospitals run them. The other way to proceed is with individual therapy to address your loss and help with the anxiety. I do see patients in my practice who have lost loved ones, but do not consider myself an expert grief psychologist. I hope this helps.

Talking to a therapist who you feel comfortable with is the first priority, rather than a special type of treatment. The therapist could work with you to develop skills to manage your fears, as well as process the tremendous loss (and possibly trauma) that you have endured.
I'm so sorry to hear about your loved one. I imagine the trauma of such an event will trigger all kinds of feelings/emotions. Anxieties can cause so many strange feelings/symptoms. It's good that you have been proactive and are listening to your body. Being aware of your anxiety is important, but having the awareness and ability to self harness it is also equally important. In my practice I find that a Cognitive Behavioral Therapeutic approach is the best type of therapy to assist with alleviating anxiety. Sometimes therapy along with a psychopharmacologist approach is also an effective approach to anxiety. Thank you for your question and if there is anything else I can assist with please let me know.
First off you need to know that when it is our time, then it will happen. Don't rush so soon. We all have a destiny and we need to try to find it and keep going. I am heartbroken of your loss and you must know you need to move on. Your loss is wanting this for you. Your loss is alive and well and you need to keep on going. Take care of your body and try to seek a doctor who can prescribe medicine for anxiety and grief. Life may not be easy or fun for many of us but it is important to make lemonade out of lemons and happiness out of a dreary life as some may think. Look at all the good things in life and try to get positive and try not to worry. You can find happiness and ❤️
I would recommend trying cognitive-behavioral therapy to alleviate your anxiety. Mindfulness in calming yoga, meditation, etc. will also help to quiet your mind. Good luck!