Anxiety and wellness follow a U-shaped curve. Presumably you know someone who seems lax and avoidant about his health, employing the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” principle. While this approach has a variety of explanations (fear of the unknown, dissatisfaction with the health care industry, or just plain laziness!), a worrisome symptom could go unchecked for months until it turns into a big problem. Conversely, a patient who frets over every minor symptom tends to end up unhealthy as well, since hypochondriasis can lead to insomnia, reduced productivity at work, relationship difficulties and the like.
Consider the U-shaped curve below. If you have little to no anxiety about your health, it’s probably fairly poor. Same thing with high levels of anxiety – health is low. The sweet spot of health lies in the middle of the anxiety axis…
The patients who have tend to have optimal health fall somewhere in the middle. They know and trust their own bodies well enough to dismiss minor pains but bring major ones to medical attention. They’ll allow a rash to go for a few days but not a week. They eat well, exercise often and are able to recognize when their appetite, energy level, and cardiovascular fitness have been compromised.
They follow preventative test recommendations for mammography, colonoscopy, etc. Best of all, they save themselves and the health care system money because major problems are averted and the ER isn’t clogged with minor non-life threatening issues. Do you need to slide up or down the curve???