How to help

Over a year ago my partner lost her best friend due to cancer…it all happened within a year. We all been told she has been “ clear” we went out to celebrate and month after cancer back took her within 2 months. My partner never get over it…it’s become her biggest fear they she will die and leave me and our 2 little boys behind. She is constantly looking for symptoms of cancer . First she felt lump on her breast gone to GP nothing there. Then her knee was playing up again visit GP nothing. She just had chest infection so you can imagine what is happening…every morning I have to check her throat, if she is bringing any phlegm I have too look at it as well. She is convinced that she is bringing blood but she is not… I know she is scared but I’m worried about her she has real panic attacks. I asked her to go and see someone but she is embarrassed. Shen knows what she is doing she just can’t stop it. Is there anything I could do help her back to normal so she can enjoy living again…thank you

Hi Aggie. Your friend has Health Anxiety. Anxiety can take many forms of which HA is only one. It so often follows bereavement.
Can you talk to her so she can overcome the embarrassment. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about in anxiety.
Professional help is so important. Going it alone should never be an option.
Panic attacks can be distressful but are harmless. The secret lies in not fighting the feelings and emotions. Tell her to give up the struggle. Fighting is a natural response to anxiety. But fighting and struggling are self perpetuating and can only make matters worse. This is not easy, but with help it can be done. There is no ‘quick’ fix for anxiety, but patience and kindness can go a long way to help, as does understanding. Short term medication can also help, but only that prescribed by her GP.
People say ‘snap out of it’, ‘pull yourself together’. It’s what the sufferer would want to do but can’t, and such remarks are hurtful because they make the sufferer feel inadequate, worthless. Self esteem takes a hard knock in anxiety.
I can only suggest that you try and convince her she needs help. But, more importantly be there for her. No criticism or judgement. Hold her hand when she gets anxious. Love and comforting can do so much to help.
She needs you so take care of yourself too.

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