Hypochondria or hypochondriasis also called illness anxiety disorder, have an irrational fear of developing a significant medical disease or being at high risk of being ill. They could misunderstand normal body functions and activities as symptoms of sickness. For example, people can believe that a simple sneeze is an indication that they have a terrible disease.
A hypochondriac is fixated on the concept that he/she is dangerously unwell, even after several medical tests with normal reports. The constant health concerns might cause problems in their relationships, professions, and personal lives.
The terms hypochondria and health anxiety may very familiar. Illness anxiety disorder is currently a term used by healthcare providers. People who suffer from illness anxiety disorder are unable to control their emotions. However, they are keenly aware of their problem.
Types of Hypochondriasis?
A person suffering from hypochondriasis usually falls into one of the following categories:
Care-seeking – The sufferers spend a lot of time in a hospital looking for help. They constantly need medical consultations and regular health checkups for themselves.
Care-avoidant – They generally avoid doctors and medical help. They couldn’t trust doctors and believed that the doctors are paying them proper attention.
What Causes Hypochondriasis?
Experts and practitioners don’t exactly know the crux of the development of this problem in people. However, if you have a family history of any of the following, you may be more susceptible to Hypochondriasis:
- Child abuse or neglect, for example, can cause childhood trauma.
- Extreme stress
- Anxiety or depression
- Rape or physical or emotional abuse
- Health fears or other anxiety disorders
Symptoms of Hypochondriasis
A Hypochondriac sets an unrealistic assumption that they are severely ill. The illness(es) that they are concerned about frequently changes. It is a type of mental illness. It usually begins in early adulthood and may appear when the individual or someone they know has been diagnosed with a major medical condition or has lost a loved one to a catastrophic medical condition. A psychiatric disease such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or serious depression affects about two-thirds of hypochondriacs.
Symptoms of hypochondria can vary depending on a number of circumstances, including stress, age, and whether or not the person is already a chronic worrier.
Hypochondriasis has the following symptoms:
- Fear of places or people due to the fear of catching a disease or infection
- Researching diseases and symptoms on a regular basis.
- Exaggerating symptoms and their severity (for instance, a cough becomes a sign of lung cancer).
- Anxiety about one’s own health
- Obsession with normal body functions like heart rate.
- Oversharing your symptoms and health condition with others
- Take your blood pressure or temperature on a regular basis to look for indicators of sickness.
When a person goes to the doctor at the first sign of a small illness, their doctor may not take them seriously. However, the person is just concerned about their own health. Sometimes, some doctors may take advantage of the patient’s anxieties by ordering unnecessary tests in order to calm them down. This clearly wastes both, the patient’s time and resources. In such cases, self-help becomes a necessity.
Following are the ways in which a person can treat themselves, or calm themselves during illness anxiety:
- Learning stress management
- Applying relaxation techniques
- Avoiding looking up the possible causes of your symptoms on the internet
- Avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs, which can exacerbate anxiety
- Understanding your body and its basic function
- Make an appointment with a primary healthcare physician
- Only get necessary tests (set a limit to tests)
It’s worth mentioning that many people refuse to admit that anxiety is a factor in their symptoms. As a result, they are less likely to seek mental health treatment. Hypochondriacs are often so resistant to the idea that they have anxiety that it requires support from their family and loved ones to convince them that they need care.
- Excessive worrying can irritate others, which can lead to relationship or family issues.
- Workplace performance issues or frequent absences
- Problems with day-to-day functioning, possibly leading to impairment
- Excessive health-care visits and medical bills have caused financial difficulties.
- Other mental health conditions, such as somatic symptom disorder, various anxiety disorders, depression, or a personality disorder
Being a hypochondriac and experiencing health anxiety can be debilitating. It can severely affect the lives of the people who suffer from it. If you’re suffering from anxiety seek professional advice, learn to recognize your stress and its effects on your body, and stick to your treatment plan. Take care of your body, take care of yourself.