You may be experiencing a specific type of health-related anxiety, known as hypochondriasis. This type of health anxiety involves a preoccupation with having a severe physical illness. Individuals with health anxiety are overly concerned about having possible physical symptoms, often in spite of a positive medical evaluation and reassurance. Hypochondriasis can significantly interfere with one’s life causing significant distress.
The recent major stressors in your life are likely exacerbating your health anxiety. The fact that your family also has a long history of anxiety increases the possibility that anxiety is the problem.
My recommendation would be to seek mental health treatment, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy. Antidepressants may also decrease your overall anxiety which could assist with the therapeutic process. Anxiety disorders tend to follow a common course: if left untreated, they often become worse. Without treatment the probability of your symptoms remaining the same or becoming worse is high.
You mentioned that you “feel stupid” when trying to talk to other people about these issues. There’s nothing to “feel stupid” about. You may be talking to the wrong people. Laypersons are not trained to treat or to understand mental health problems and thus may not know how to respond when you tell them about your anxiety. The solution is to see a specialist, a mental health professional who received rigorous training in treating anxiety disorders. I hope that my letter convinces you to seek treatment. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle