Hypochondria is a person’s belief that any physical symptoms in their body are signs of a serious illness, even if there is no medical evidence of the disease.
A person with hypochondria continues to think that he is seriously ill, despite the appropriate medical tests, examinations and doctors’ assurances that everything is in order with his health.
A person with this suspiciousness will think of normal body functions, such as heartbeat, sweating, or gut processes, as symptoms of a serious illness or condition.
Even minor abnormalities such as a runny nose, swollen lymph nodes, or mild pain are considered symptoms of something really scary. The hypochondriac usually uses “vague” phrases – he can say that the veins are tired or that the liver hurts somewhere.
It has been found that more than 60% of hypochondriacs also suffer from severe depression, panic disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder.
A person with hypochondria can suffer for months, even years. There may be equally long periods when he is not worried about being sick. Experts say that about 30% of patients will ultimately improve significantly, and recovery occurs most often among people of higher socioeconomic status.
Why a person develops hypochondria is often unclear. Experts believe there are many factors at play. Hypochondria tends to initially affect people in early adulthood. A person may begin to suffer from hypochondria after recovering from a serious illness, after breaking up with a loved one, or after the death of a close friend. Many who have experienced increased stress may also be affected.
Psychologists agree that most people who develop hypochondria tend to be neurotic, self-critical, or narcissistic. Some perfectionists also suffer from hypochondria, believing that being healthy means never feeling pain or discomfort.
Basically, a medical examination can lead to hypochondria. A patient who has a weak heart can automatically assume the worst when he experiences feelings associated with heart disease. Some healthcare professionals say that suspicious people have a low threshold for pain. They notice any internal sensations earlier than other people.
It should be noted that this disorder occurs equally in men and women. Increased suspiciousness in a person (adult or child) makes him focus too much on his physical health. He pays exaggerated attention and worries about his physical sensations.
All this turns into a vicious circle and a continuous cycle – an arising (even harmless) symptom causes anxiety, and anxiety, in turn, can intensify the symptoms. This cycle is difficult to stop. It is important to understand that people with such suspiciousness are not deliberately creating these symptoms (simulation). They are unable to control the symptoms.
People who have experienced physical or sexual abuse in the past, have had a serious illness or injury, are more likely to develop this disorder. However, this does not mean that every person with hypochondriacal syndrome has a similar history in their life.
Factors Contributing to Hypochondria
- Disease resources on the Internet.
- Disease TV shows, TV shows and advertisements for serious illness.
- Pandemic projections.
- Major epidemics.
- Publication of statistics on chronic diseases.
- Information that mental illness often triggers obsessions about illness (hypochondria).
- Stereotypes of age-related diseases.
Hypochondriacs are unable to control their fears and worries. They often regard minor symptoms or sensations as signs of a serious illness.
They regularly seek evidence from doctors, family, and friends. They may feel better for a period of time, but then worry again about the same or new symptoms.
The symptoms the person talks about are often vague. People with hypochondria often examine their own bodies.
It is not uncommon for a suspicious person to focus on one particular organ, for example, the heart or lungs, or simply on one of the diseases, such as cancer.
Those who suffer from this disorder may even admit that their fear of a serious illness is unfounded and unfounded, but it is difficult for them to get rid of it.
Treatment: How to Get Rid of Hypochondria?
Hypochondria is difficult to treat. There is really no cure for the imaginary disease. Hypochondria exists only in the human head. If a person constantly considers himself ill, medicine cannot fix it. But if the hypochondriac is aware of his condition, he can do something to overcome it.
First, the healthcare professional must tell you that you do not have an illness. You should only have one first appointment with your doctor to avoid too many tests and procedures.
The main thing that can be very helpful against hypochondria is keeping a journal where you will write down your feelings and thoughts. It’s just a tracking tool to help you determine what is causing you to have hypochondriasis. When you know what makes you anxious, you can find better ways to manage them.
An effective treatment for hypochondria should essentially lead to one thing: it should provide you with freedom from fear. After all, thinking that life is endless illness, you cannot really enjoy life to the fullest. There is no magic pill you can take. But if you make the decision to overcome hypochondria, by doing so you will help yourself.
Finding a therapist who is experienced in treating this disorder can be helpful.
Recent studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as fluoxetine and paroxetine) are effective in treating hypochondria.
Exercise is not only good for your health, but it also makes you feel better mentally as well.
Children’s Hypochondria and Its Symptoms
Cases of hypochondria in children are not uncommon. They are most common in young children (typically five to seven years old), but can occur at any age. In fact, many children suffer from a debilitated condition often referred to as a psychosomatic disorder.
For a parent, the key to solving a child’s hypochondria problem is to diagnose his condition. Hypochondria can be acute, associated with a recent event in the child’s life, or chronic, when the child complains of pain on a daily basis.
In children who display traits of chronic hypochondria, the cause is often traits of the particular parent who is suffering from the hypochondriac tendency. Children often receive signals from adults, and you might accidentally scare them by talking about illness. By observing how parents cope / fail to cope with struggles, illnesses and difficulties in daily life, the child can develop a state of hypochondria in which he uses illness as a method to solve problems, questions and difficulties.
Another aspect in the development of hypochondriasis in children is the tendency for first-born children to feel more tired and frustrated than their younger siblings. And yet, there are some children who simply develop a tendency towards hypochondria as a result of over-treatment in their childhood. For these children, frequent visits to the doctor’s office are often associated with certain reactions and mechanisms in their mind.
The main challenge will be to negate the effects of hypochondria before the child reaches adolescence and adolescence.
1. Try not to show irritation. If the child feels that you are annoyed or that you do not want to listen to him, you risk that the next time he does not want to come to you and, moreover, will not tell you in the future what you really need to know. Try to spend special time with him and give him your full attention when he complains of injury or illness. Hear about his symptoms. The child needs to know that you are with him in order to calm him down, whether or not he will actually feel bad.
2. Reassure your child of his health and stability. Be firm but affectionate. Hypochondriacal tendencies are often rooted in deeper security issues. Unable to express them, the child may become attached to the banal physical world. Consolation and love can be the answer in this case.
3. Help your child take action by researching concerns and complaints. Ask him if he wants to look for answers with you. If your child feels more involved with you in their own well-being, they are more likely to believe you and be satisfied with your answers.