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Alex asked...

I have a constant obsession with my health. By that, I mean I'm constantly checking myself for swollen glands or lumps on my body. I've been to my GP a couple of times because I feel these glands and I believe they're swollen, but both times he has assured me that I am perfectly healthy. Still, I'm always checking myself and looking up symptoms online and I've got to a point where I'm just not longer motivated to go outside or do the things I usually enjoy because I feel like I'm being ignored by a GP, or other people don't understand what I'm feeling. I don't want to feel like this, but I honestly cannot help but feel like there's something physically wrong with me.

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The Answer

What you are describing sounds like a form of obsessive health disorder, where you are focusing on your glands and thinking that they are swollen, making you believe you are physically unwell. We have glands in various parts of our body, such as the throat, under our arms and the groin area. When you are unwell, these glands may be swollen but you often have other symptoms such as raised temperatures, aching limbs and tiredness present too.

You say that you have attended the doctor, who checked for swollen glands and we assume blood tests to rule out other signs of infection. We would encourage you to try to alter your behaviour so that you are not constantly reexamining yourself and try to avoid looking up illness definitions on the internet as you persistently doing these actions reinforce the behavior but can also make you believe that you have other illnesses.

Regarding the lack of motivation you have, this could potentially be a symptom of depression, which often links in with obsessive health disorder. We would encourage you to go and see your GP, or another GP registered at your practice who you may well feel happier with, to discuss the way you are feeling: withdrawn, lacking interest and closing yourself off from family and friends. We feel that you could possibly benefit from treatments such as counselling, behavioural therapy and medical therapy such as antidepressants.

We would also like to provide you with other sources of help such as www.anxietyuk.org.uk, www.mind.org.uk, and www.mentalhealth.org.uk.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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