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Heart Attack Phobia

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I’m always worried about having a heart attack. I even had a catheterization 5 years ago. The cardiologist told me there was nothing wrong with my heart and he wished he had my arteries. Since this was one of the best diagnostic heart tests, I thought that my fears would stop. I felt as though I had faced my greatest fear and it would go away. I forgot to add that I’ve been worrying about my heart since I was 20-years-old. The fear has not gone away and I wanted to know if you have any suggestions to help me. 48 years is a long time to be afraid. I do meditation, yoga and I try to walk 2 miles at least five days. I haven’t done this for about two months because I twisted my ankle and am now afraid to start again. My ekg’s are always normal. I see a psychiatric nurse once a month.

Heart Attack Phobia

Answered by on -

A.

The most efficient way to overcome a phobia is to believe in reality. All phobias are, by definition, irrational fears. Irrational fear is kept “alive” when one doesn’t believe in reality. In your circumstance, you learned through a variety of medical tests that your heart is healthy, yet you simply don’t believe it. It is as though you are rejecting these objective tests. That’s akin to rejecting reality, rejecting your doctor’s educated opinion, rejecting the laboratory results and established medical science.

The farther one moves away from believing in what is real, the more psychologically unhealthy one becomes. Delusions are the ultimate irrational fear. Delusions are strongly held beliefs that exist despite evidence to the contrary. Do your best to try to believe in the truth. Forcing yourself to believe in the truth can preserve your psychological health.

In your case, reality, science and medical testing says that your heart is healthy. Scientific tests have proven that to be true. Believe in science. If you believe in science, then your fears will subside. If you refuse to believe the objective tests (i.e. reject science), then your anxiety will continue.

Perhaps underlying all of this is a fear of death. All people will die. Death is inevitable. We live between the moments of birth and death. How you live between these moments determines your quality of life. Being afraid of death, to the point where it decreases your quality of life, is akin to having died already or having been cheated out of life.

The idea of forcing oneself to believe in reality takes practice. For many people, it’s a new way of thinking. Therapy could greatly assist you in acquiring this new way of thinking. If this continues to be an issue, and is degrading your quality of life, then consider counseling. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Heart Attack Phobia

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Heart Attack Phobia. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 22, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/06/26/heart-attack-phobia/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.