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OCD and Being Afraid of Serious Illness

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Hello, I am writing this out because I have found myself in a constant cycle of questioning my sanity. First I will give some back round information on myself. I am a 22-year-old male, who is in their third year of college and is a Psychology major Also I commute to school so I live at home. I never have gotten too stressed from school, as I try to take everything with a grain of salt and not live my life stressed. Lately, though I have found myself constantly questioning whether I will develop Schizophrenia or not. I started to notice OCD like tendencies and anxiety when I was about 19 or 20. I became very fixated on my health. At one time I thought I was diabetic and another time I firmly believed I was going to develop HIV. I would constantly check my temperature and go to doctors to get reassurance that I was in fact healthy. Now I have found myself extremely afraid of developing Schizophrenia and questioning everything to make sure I am not going crazy. I used to use some drugs in high school but stopped and I have not used any drugs in about 4 years. I only drink alcohol and not frequently either. No one in my family has had Schizophrenia either. My brother has been diagnosed with OCD and my mother has some tendencies herself. I really just want this thought out of my head. Some days I don’t even think about it but other times, it is intense and I start thinking about how my life could end up and I get afraid. I have read countless amounts of forums on Schizophrenia and people writing about personal experiences and it scares me to a degree that causes me to constantly check on myself and make sure that I am okay. My sleep schedule is rather poor, I don’t fall asleep until late at night and I stay up watching shows but I have been that way for years now. Also my eating habits may be negatively affecting me because I have been trying to fast and only have one meal a day. Some times if I’m tired during the day and I’m fatigued I start thinking if it is the early onset of Schizophrenia because when you are fatigued your cognitive ability is lessened so I start to think that, that is it, and that’s going to happen and I am developing Schizophrenia. When I believed I was diabetic or going to get HIV I found relief when I would go to doctors and get tests but Schizophrenia is different; as you can’t just get a blood test for it and be told negative or positive. I am trying to stop thinking this way but I am just so scared of it. Ever since I took an Abnormal Psychology course and learned about Schizophrenia I would occasionally think about it but now I have found myself obsessing over it. I have always tried to stay positive my whole life, I have a lot of great friends, and a loving family. I go to the gym every day as well and I try to live as healthy as possible. I am just very afraid of the thought of losing my mind and I want this thought cycle to end. I have reached out to a Therapist and I have gone for about two months now and he says that I am far from Schizophrenic but every so often I find myself getting extremely depressed and anxious over the thought and I am tired of questioning my own thoughts and believing I may have symptoms. Lastly, I would like to add that I have never had a psychotic break. I have never had any delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, or been catatonic. I just get in my own head some times and worry excessively which gives me anxiety and depression. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

OCD and Being Afraid of Serious Illness

Answered by on -


Thank you for explaining these difficult feelings. It sounds like you’ve been worrying excessively and the nature of the worry has changed several times running the gamut from diabetes to HIV, schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety, which in turn have contributed to poor eating habits and insomnia. On the other side of the coin you’ve never had a breakdown, suffered from delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, or been catatonic—nor has anyone in your family. In other words, you have no symptoms, and no seemingly genetic predisposition since no family members exhibit these conditions, and your therapist doesn’t think you have schizophrenia.

However, the other side are the thoughts and behaviors themselves. The repetitive nature of the thoughts regardless of the concern, the intensity and rumination, and the healthy behaviors you’ve engaged in also seem very intense, the gym every day and fasting as a form of weight management and health. The repetition of thought and behavior coupled with the fact your brother has a diagnosis and your mom has OCD tendencies make an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder a good diagnosis to rule out with your therapist. What I mean by this is that these symptoms could come from a number of things, but OCD seems to be the easiest one to explain them all.

This is why you want to start there as a way to figure out what is going on as soon as possible. If it turns out it isn’t OCD then you explore what you and your therapist thinks would be worth exploring. An article about OCD is here. An online quiz you can take to see if you match the criteria is here. and ways to distinguish between a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and OCD here.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

OCD and Being Afraid of Serious Illness

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2020). OCD and Being Afraid of Serious Illness. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 3, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 21 Feb 2020 (Originally: 23 Feb 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 21 Feb 2020
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