It’s normal to feel concerned when your body shows signs that you are coming down with an illness. However, the rational thing to do when you are worried about your health is to consult your medical doctor. Hypochondria is marked by constant worry that you have symptoms of a specific severe illness. Nine times out of 10, the distress is unwarranted and your health is in good condition. On that note, this article explores all you need to know about hypochondria.
Hypochondria is an old term used to describe an irrational and obsessive worry about severe medical conditions. Today, this obsessive-compulsive disorder is known as illness anxiety or health anxiety. Hypochondria is characterized by a person’s misinterpretation of physical symptoms of illness despite reassurance by medical practitioners that they don’t have the illness.
For example, most people fear the risk of aneurysm rupture. This medical condition is primarily caused by the weakening of the main artery wall. So that you know, a cerebral aneurysm occurs in the brain. Common symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm include headaches, seizures, nausea, and confusion.
Instead of excessively worrying about developing an aneurysm, consider moderating the risk factors. Some common aneurysm risk factors include smoking, hypertension, family history, substance abuse, traumatic stress disorder, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Marfan syndrome, and fibromuscular dysplasia.
Causes of Hypochondria
While there are no known causes of hypochondria, some factors may be involved. Stressful situations are one of the significant risk factors for hypochondria. More so, the likelihood of a severe illness that eventually turns out to not be serious. Some people who suffer from hypochondria have family members who have a severe illness or are also worried excessively about their health.
Hypochondria is a long-term health condition that varies in severity over time. This condition usually occurs in early or middle adulthood. According to experts, the condition can worsen with age or increased stress levels. If you can’t see a doctor, consider consulting an online anxiety therapist.
The American Psychological Association Diagnostic criteria for hypochondria include excessively worrying about having a severe illness, having very mild symptoms or not having any physical symptoms of anxiety, being pensive about an existing health condition, or stressing out over a family history of a certain health condition. The sickness is also associated with certain other irrational health-related behaviors.
While hypochondria can last for a person’s lifetime, treatment helps reduce the symptoms to enhance their daily functioning and minimize worries. Every form of treatment for hypochondria focuses on improving the symptoms and the patient’s quality of life.
Essentially, the treatment plan centers on psychotherapy. Sometimes, medications are incorporated into the treatment plan if the symptoms are severe.
Psychotherapy is inarguably the most common treatment for hypochondria, primarily cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is an effective method of treating hypochondria because it helps the patient develop critical skills for managing the disorder.
You may decide to participate in cognitive behavioral therapy on your own or in a group. Either way, the behavioral health benefits are endless. You get to identify your hypochondria worries and beliefs. You can then leverage the insights gained from sensitivity analysis to learn other ways of interpreting your body sensations.
CBT also helps with stress management. Instead of consulting mental health professionals, cognitive behavioral therapy can help diagnose any mental health condition. An online anxiety therapist may prescribe an online cognitive behavioral therapy. Aside from CBT, anxiety therapists often prescribe other forms of psychotherapy like exposure therapy and behavioral stress management.
As mentioned, hypochondria is marked by the constant concern for one’s health. Patients tend to exhibit certain unreasonable behaviors like checking their bodies for diseases repeatedly and skipping doctor’s appointments for fear of the unknown. If you feel you might be in this category, it’s best to visit your GP.