Is hypochondria a mental illness?
Hypochondriasis is a unique mental disorder that is quite common in medical practice than you can imagine. It is estimated to affect about 5% of the general population.
A person who suffers from hypochondriasis is known as a hypochondriac.
Other Names Of Hypochondriasis:
- Health anxiety
- Somatic symptom disorder
- Illness anxiety disorder
Definitions Of Hypochondriasis
- Hypochondriasis is the obsessive idea of having a serious medical illness that is medically un-diagnosable because there is no illness according to proper physical and instrumental examinations.
- Hypochondriasis is a disorder where a person is hugely and unduly worried about having a serious illness.
- The diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM)-IV -TR defines hypochondriasis as a somatoform disorder:
A somatoform disorder is any mental disorder that manifests as physical symptoms of an illness or injury but cannot be explained sufficiently by a medical condition or by the direct effect of a substance and is not attributed to another mental disorder.
Causes of hypochondriasis
Hypochondriasis usually starts from early adulthood and can be triggered by different factors, some of which are:
- Being abuse as a child
- A health scare
- Loss of a loved one due to a disease
- Having a sick parent or sibling
- Being consistently ill as a child
- Mild internet use to diagnose self that turns excessive overtime
- Personality traits such as obsessive tendencies
Symptoms of hypochondriasis
Here are signs and symptoms of hypochondriasis:
- Excessive and persistent fear of being sick
- Being preoccupied with the idea of developing severe disease
- Complaining about symptoms that are not present irrespective of a physician’s lack of symptomatic findings or investigative findings.
- Obsessive analysis of one symptom that is believed to be the cause of every other symptoms
- A sudden increase of blood pressure in the presence of a physician (likewise known as white coat Syndrome)
- Fear that a minor bodily or mental symptom may be a sign of a serious health problem. For instance, a minor cough can cause a hypochondriac to believe he or she has tuberculosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Regularly Self examination
- Self-diagnosis (frequent internet search of possible illnesses you could be suffering from).
- Self drug prescriptions (taking drugs believed to heal a particular symptom that is not medically present)
- Elevated anxiety or stress in the presence of your healthcare provider
- Feeling not reassured after visiting your doctor
- Changing doctors frequently
- Inability to function in your everyday life due to the fear of falling sick, for example: avoiding social gatherings or place of employment
- Often looking for reassurance from different doctors and family members
- Continually talking about a possible illness or illness you may have.
How is hypochondriasis diagnosed?
To be diagnosed as a hypochondriac, you must have experienced symptoms of hypochondriasis for a period of at least six months.
How is hypochondriasis treated?
- Psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy): is used to identify the fears and belief systems that guide your state of mind. It also teaches you ways to cope with any anxious thoughts that may come up about your health.
- Antidepressants and other mood stabilizers are used to manage anxiety and stabilize your moods.
- Engaging in physical activities helps you take your mind off the situation and focused on the good things around you.
Management of Hypochondriasis is tailored to the individual. For instance, some hypochondriacs require consistent reassurance from family, friends, and their doctors that they are healthy. While some hypochondriacs avoid entirely the reminder of what they are going through, They prefer not to discuss it at all.
It is risky to be on both extremes. For example: not wanting to discuss a complaint with your doctor may lead to neglect of one’s health when a serious health problem arises. While seeking consistent reassurance may lead to frustration and more emotional stress, such as the stress it will put on your relationship with your loved ones. Therefore treatment plans take into consideration your perspective on the situation.
For more information about hypochondriasis, you should talk to your doctor.