Illness Anxiety Disorder (Hypochondriasis): When worrying about your health takes over your entire being
The new era has made it easy to overanalyze every ache and pain. Diagnosing yourself of cancer or the next chronic illness is only a google search and three swipes away. You feel your chest tighten a little and after a few searches and clicks, you’re now sure you need an emergency surgery to remove a rare tumor from your buttocks. This article was specially written for you.
Once labeled as hypochondriasis, it’s now medically known as somatic symptom disorder. It can even be generally referred to as illness anxiety to avoid stigma.
Somatic symptom disorder is when someone is excessively preoccupied and worried about their health far beyond what is reassured by medical experts. It’s a variation of an anxiety disorder.
Symptoms can include:
Fear and acute about sickness.
Repeated doctor visits and going to multiple experts.
The inability to be reassured by medical professionals, exams or tests.
Persistent research about symptoms and conditions.
Constant preoccupation about illness that has disrupted daily life.
Concerned for your health? Or health anxiety?
To someone with hypochondriasis, a headache means a brain tumor, while coughing must signal lung cancer. He or she has lost sight of the difference between true symptoms and obsessing over developing an illness.
“Health anxiety looks different for every patient and it comes in varying degrees. It becomes a major concern when it crosses the border into excessive and dysfunctional.
A lot of time and money will be far spent before the patient realizes they’re not sick or not as sick as they think.
Hypochondriasis is different from factitious disorder because the person truly believes that he or she is sick. In factitious disorder (formerly known as Munchhausen syndrome), a person is faking an illness and is aware it’s not real.
Do you think you might be a hypochondriac?
Fact is, most people who suffer from hypochondriasis don’t realize that they do. It is a personal problem with insight. it’s similar to someone walking around with a piece of food on their face and they haven’t noticed it yet, but it’s obvious to others. Someone who is a hypochondriac might think it’s completely normal to go to 10 doctors and three emergency rooms because of a headache.
Who does it affect?
People with hypochondriasis take their thoughts to the furthest levels, but that doesn’t always suggest they had severe anxiety prior to hypochondriasis. They might have even had undiagnosed anxiety or a mild form. But now worrying about the illness has caused it to get out of control.
The disorder affects men and women equally and is seen across all age groups in adulthood, with the majority falling between 18 and 50.
“It’s very stigmatized, so doctors often tend to spare the patient the name and instead might call it health anxiety or illness anxiety so they don’t feel ashamed.
Hypochondriasis doesn’t go well with the internet, as a matter a fact the internet fuels.
“It’s a free platform where people can describe symptoms and diseases without medical confirmation or any background knowledge.
The internet gives patients the small possibility and chance that they will actually be diagnosed or cured with certain treatments. It reinforces the behavior and fear. Often patients return to the “what ifs” of their health. What if I have a rare disease? What if the doctors miss something?
Contacting online accounts of other people who were “finally diagnosed” after many years of being misunderstood could fuel this pattern of wondering.
Can you treat hypochondriasis?
Every patient deserves a thorough medical evaluation first. After that’s done and it has been established that it’s health anxiety, The doctors will work with the patient and assure them they’ll work on an increase in the function and quality of life
Somatic symptom disorder, hypochondriasis, health anxiety, illness anxiety – whatever term it’s referred to – the main goal of treatment is to increase the patient’s quality of life. Often times, those who have the disorder have disrupted their lives with the time and money spent chasing a health concern.
Typical treatment for hypochondriasis includes therapy, support groups and medication. It’s also crucial for the physician and patient to form a trusting relationship.
“The patient needs to be assured that their overall medical concern is being addressed and not just being reduced to a psychiatric problem.
Even if they have severe anxiety, you have to ease into it. A lot of symptoms are presenting simply because the nervous system is under assault with stress and overload.
If you find yourself stressing about your health in an obsessive manner, it is recommended that you jolt yourself back to reality. Not every bump, pain and rash is a sign of trouble. Talk to a friend or see a specialist if you’re truly concerned. Then, trust the medical evaluation. If you’ve identified with feeling anxious and tense already, seek additional help for managing those feelings.
And get off the internet for a while please, NA BEG I DEY BEG.
You’ve done your part, not much more can come from continuing to search the internet, he says. Try to embrace other things in your life that bring you joy.