Health anxiety is when someone is constantly worried about their health and being obsessed with the thought that they have a serious disease. Individuals with hypochondria will routinely overreact or overanalyze slight symptoms. Symptoms that many people overlook – an itch, a slight cold, headaches – are thought to be the signs of serious diseases for those struggling with hypochondria. About 5% of people have some form of hypochondria, with serious cases affecting a much lower percentage. Many people with hypochonria will attempt to self-diagnose, something that has become easier to do in the last 15 years because of the wealth of knowledge on the internet.
These individuals will seek constant reassurance from doctors, friends, and family members that they do not have a disease. This can become tedious to these people and affect the relationship between them. Individuals with hypochondria are engrossed by the thought that they are ill, and this feeling affects their social, professional, and personal life. They cannot carry out their daily lives. Many will develop obsessive compulsive symptoms to check their body for symptoms. They will develop a routine that needs to be followed to check for any abnormalities. They will also commonly ask for medical tests to check for diseases as a form of reassurance. Even with confirmation from the doctor and medical tests, the belief that something is wrong will persist.
Obsessive compulsive behavior, increased stress levels, depression, and other mental problems can all result from hypochondria. The thought of being sick all the time can take an emotional toll on a person. Therapy can help to manage these problems and also to reduce and possibly eliminate hypochondria. If you or a loved one may have hypochondria please give us a call to schedule an appointment.