Illness anxiety disorder

We all are so concerned about health. Indeed health is wealth, but is too much worrying about our health is a medical problem? Yes! It is. Too much worrying about health may cause illness anxiety disorder.

It is also called health anxiety or hypochondria. It is a preoccupation with the fear of having or acquiring a health disorder in near future. This disorder makes you extremely worried even though if the medical exams reveal that you are normal. It makes you worried even if there are no serious physical signs or symptoms of illness. It may get worse by age or during stressful situations. Psychotherapy and medications can help reduce the disorder.


The major cause of illness anxiety disorder is not clear, but the following factors might be responsible for the condition:

Perceptions: You may not be able to differentiate between the normal body sensations and severe sensations because during this disorder, you may over think even about minor signs of the body which are normal.

Family: you might more likely to have illness anxiety disorder if your parents had the same type of worry towards their health status.

History: you must have had a history of serious illness which makes you worry the same way looking at the physical sensations of your body.

Illness anxiety disorder would start during the early or middle age and may worsen as you grow older. Mostly commonly, in old age, the patients may be more concerned about losing their memory.


You may get preoccupied with the idea that you are seriously ill even by looking at minor signs or symptoms such as a noisy stomach or a small rash.

The other signs and symptoms of anxiety disorder include:

  • Getting too concerned about health status
  • Checking the body repeatedly for any signs of illness
  • Worrying too much about minor symptoms
  • Making frequent medical appointments
  • Talking constantly about the health and possible illnesses
  • Avoiding people and places for fear of health risks

Risk factors

The common risk factors for illness anxiety disorder may include childhood abuse, threat of serious illness, and excessive health related web search.


Illness anxiety disorder may lead to certain complications that may include:

  • Problems in normal functioning of daily routine
  • Financial burden due to too much of health screening
  • Getting other mental disorder, or depression due to too much of thinking
  • Problems with people around you, because too of your worrying may frustrate them


Your doctor would prescribe antidepressants and other medications that are used for treating mood or anxiety disorders. Your doctor would explain you about the risks and benefits of the medications that are prescribed.


The below suggestions may be helpful in preventing illness anxiety disorder.

  • You must always stick to your treatment plan
  • You must maximize yourself to be away from stress
  • You must never neglect to seek professional advice if you have any problems with anxiety

You doctor may perform a thorough clinical evaluation; the diagnosis is suggested by the fears and symptoms that you expose, and other health disorders that require treatment is determined.

Your doctor may conduct a psychological evaluation; ask you answer to the questionnaire and about your habits such as alcohol consumption and smoking or drug abuse.

The main purpose of treating illness anxiety disorder is to alleviate the symptoms and improve the quality of life by maintaining the functional ability. Psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be beneficial for treating illness anxiety disorder. Your doctor may also add medications for anxiety disorder treatment.

Psychotherapy called CBT can be provided individually or in a group session, it helps you in:

  • Improving the functions of day to day life
  • Identifying your beliefs and fears of having a serious health issue
  • Reducing the habit of frequent checking of body for symptoms
  • Learning about other ways to view body sensations rather than panicking

Your doctor may also prescribe therapies such as behavioral management and exposure therapy, which can also be worth trying.