Hypochondria, sometimes referred to as hypochondriasis, is a mental that effects people of both sexes. It is also called health phobia or health anxiety. The term hypochondria is often used jokingly to describe a person who is preoccupied with the health, but the actual disorder is far more serious.
The main characteristic of this disorder is, a very intense preoccupation with health and irrational fear of illnesses, which often borders on obsession and usually comes with anxiety.
Hypochondria can definitely be overcome. It may take some time and effort, but with the right treatment, which usually consists of counseling, psychotherapy and possibly medications, a hypochondriac can break out of this disorder and start living a better, more relaxed life.
The symptoms of hypochondria
The basic symptom of hypochondria is a person’s constant fear that there is something wrong with his or her health. A hypochondriac will go to the doctor’s very often, even for the slightest ailment. For example, if a hypochondriac has sore throat due to cold or flu, he or she will be absolutely terrified that the illness is in fact throat cancer, and even worse, that he or she is dying. Even after the doctor explains that the ailment is not serious at all, the hypochondriac will not believe him. In fact, the suspicion of a fatal illness is so deeply rooted in the hypochondriac’s mind that he or she will not find relief and comfort even after getting second, third or fourth doctor’s opinion.
Hypochondriacs also often take medications on their own and they tend to know a lot about different treatments and drugs. They spend a lot of time learning about illnesses from medical books and Internet. If their fear is focused on one particular illness, they will know everything there is about it - the cause, the symptoms, the cure, diagnosis and prognosis.
In addition, hypochondriacs tend to overdo basic hygiene, like washing the hands, because they fear they might catch a viral or bacterial disease. If someone around them sneezes or coughs, they will become very anxious and maybe even start believing they contracted the disease.
Since hypochondriacs are often taken for granted and dismissed, even by friends and family, they feel very isolated and alone and they often look at others with envy, feeling that everyone besides them is healthy. This leads to even more pronounced anxiety.
Because the nature of this disorder, it may be hard to convince a hypochondriac to seek help from therapists or counselors.