What is hypochondriasis?
Hypochondriasis is a type of anxiety disorder. It is also known as health anxiety, illness anxiety, or hypochondriasis.
It's normal for people to worry about their health from time to time. But people with hypochondriasis are very concerned that they are seriously ill or about to become seriously ill. This can happen even if they have no symptoms, or have very mild symptoms. They may even mistake normal feelings for symptoms of a serious illness.
Some people with hypochondriasis worry excessively about certain health conditions. Other people with hypochondriasis, despite being healthy, have profound fears about their future health. For example, they may wonder: "What if I get cancer?"
People with hypochondriasis can become so distressed and anxious that they are unable to do everyday things.
What are the symptoms of hypochondriasis?
Symptoms of hypochondriasis may include:
- I thought a lot about serious illness
- Visited the doctor multiple times but did not accept the guarantee
- seek extensive medical testing
- Talk about health often with friends and family
- Spend hours researching symptoms online
- Having trouble sleeping
- Problems at home, work and social life due to concerns about one's health.
What causes hypochondriasis?
It's unclear why people develop hypochondriasis, but it's more common among the following groups:
- Have experienced significant stress, illness, or death in the family
- Neglected or abused as a child
- Have a serious physical illness
- Have a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder or psychosis
- A tendency to make everything seem worse than it actually is
Certain activities may cause serious concern in people susceptible to hypochondriasis, including:
- Read about diseases online
- watch something on tv
- Know someone with a serious illness
- Feeling sick or noticing a lump or bump
How to treat hypochondriasis?
Doctors who treat hypochondriacs will examine them to look for physical problems. Their choices include:
- Make a clear and honest assessment of the cause of concern
- Provide advice and self-help resources to those affected
- cognitive behavioral therapy
- Refer the person to a counselor or psychologist, especially if they think depression or anxiety may make symptoms worse
- Prescribe medication, such as antidepressants, to reduce anxiety.
Exercise, sleep and eat healthy. Reducing stress can help
Where to go for help?
If you think you or someone you know is affected by hypochondriasis, let them know you can support them and that you want to help. Talk about what's going on, listen to them, and help them seek advice from their doctor or other health professional.