Hypochondria also referred as “Health Anxiety” or “Illness Anxiety” is an obsession or irrational fear of having a serious medical condition. It is a debilitating psychological disorder that can affect an individual’s well- being and relationships. A person with hypochondriasis exhibits the characteristics of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and is preoccupied with his own physical health. Estimations show that 10% of the population has clinically significant hypochondria. In addition, due to hypochondriacal fear 15% of all visit to primary care physicians.
Patients with hypochondriasis often misinterpret physical symptoms as a sign of serious disease or other medical conditions. They recurrently believe that they suffer from a serious medical condition in spite of the doctor’s reassurance. Some level of preoccupation with disease is common in 10-20% of healthy people and 45% of those who have no major psychiatric disorder. Health Anxiety varies widely from person to person. Some constantly seek information and reassurance while some tend to have avoidant behavior. It can be recovered if identified at an early stage.
Listed below are some signs to watch out if you believe you are affected by health anxiety.
“The onset of this disorder is early adulthood, although it can surface at any point in time. Stick with one doctor, forget about self-checks, be social and share the concern with similar people. In addition, regular exercising and spending much time with family and friends will also be helpful.”