What is hypochondria?
Hypochondria is a psychosomatic disorder that is associated with the risk of a persistent or continuous fear or a belief that one is suffering from a serious and undiagnosed medical illness. It is basically a mental disorder where the person is excessively worried about the fact that they are sick. This worry about the illness becomes an illness.
The severity of this illness depends upon the age, the tendency of the person to worry, and the amount of stress they can deal with.
Approximately 5% of medical patients suffer from hypochondria.
There are basically 2 types of hypochondria i.e., constantly seeking information and avoidance behavior.
Symptoms of a hypochondria are as follows –
- Fear the normal body functions – The person may start fearing the normal bodily functions like sweating, bowel movements, the rapid increase in heartbeat, etc. as a symptom for serious illness.
- Fear of minor abnormalities – A person may get scared of the minor abnormalities like running nose, small sore, or swelling, etc. and may feel like it is something serious.
- Regularly checking – A person constantly checks the signs of illness in the body.
- Too much talking about the illness or the health issues.
- Frequent visits to the doctor.
- Constantly searching for the symptoms of possible illness on the internet.
- Even if the reports are negative, the person may find no relief or feel uneasy.
- Avoiding the doctor or check-up because of the fear of getting diagnosed with a serious illness.
- Avoiding social gathering or other activities.
Who is at risk of hypochondria?
- People who are recovering from a serious illness or trauma like loss of a loved one are at a higher risk to develop hypochondria.
- People having underlying medical conditions can also act as a trigger to hypochondria.
- People who are self-critical or perfectionists are also at a higher risk.
Causes of hypochondria –
The exact hypochondriac causes are not known. But it can be caused due to several reasons.
- Wrong belief or misunderstanding of how the body works.
- If someone in the family or close relatives have hypochondria, you are likely to develop it.
- People who have bad experiences regarding health.
- History of childhood abuse.
- Conditions like psychiatric disorder are linked to hypochondria.
- There are various other factors like an increase in stress or worry or too much exposure to information related to a disease, that can cause hypochondria.
- Depression, anxiety, panic disorder, OCD, or any other disorder can also cause hypochondria.
Hypochondriac diagnosis –
In order to qualify for the diagnosis of hypochondria, the person should witness the symptoms for at least 6 months. The diagnosis is dependent on the symptoms reported by the patient, family member, or a close person. The symptoms should be told or described to the hypochondriac doctor properly, because it is important to know when the symptoms started, how severe they are, etc. for the proper or accurate diagnosis.
Hypochondriac treatment –
The hypochondriac cure can be done by –
- Try to act as normal as possible.
- Reduce or ease mental stress.
- Engage more in physical activities.
- Try to refrain from fake information on social media.
Apart from that, the doctor can –
- Help the patient by scheduling regular visits.
- Refer to the specialist, if needed.
- In most cases, medications for depression, anxiety, or OCD can help in treating.
Prevention from hypochondria –
It is not entirely possible to prevent a hypochondria. But changes in daily lifestyle can help in prevention. Also, providing support to the person who has such symptoms can help in reducing the chances of hypochondria.
If the symptoms start worsening, it is recommended to immediately consult a psychiatrist.
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