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Hypochondria — Symptoms & Treatment

Hypochondria is an abnormal anxiety around ones health that is typically characterized by excessive worrying that causes great distress and can impairs someone’s everyday functioning. People who suffer from hypochondria have extreme concerns about being ill or becoming seriously ill in the future.

It is not uncommon for someone with hypochondria to believe they have a devastating illness or they are in great risk of catching one. They can also go into a state of panic from simple bodily reactions or minor sensations like headaches believing that they are already implications of serious health conditions. Even after checkups and medical tests reveal there isn’t a serious illness, no doctor’s reassurance can ease their distress, causing individuals with hypochondria to continue to doubt their wellbeing.

Hypochondria & OCD

Hypochondria shares some characteristics of OCD but it is important to note that they are separate conditions. Although fears around health are common obsessions for those with Health Concern Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, individuals with Hypochondria fear they have a disease. In addition, it is also possible for someone to be diagnosed with both OCD and hypochondria.

Treatment for Hypochondria

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is mainly used in anxiety treatment programs, is also an effective treatment for people diagnosed with hypochondria. CBT involves identifying the thoughts and emotions the patient experiences and the things the patient does to cope with those emotions. The aim of the CBT is to change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors that maintain hypochondria. Some patients may also benefit from a different psychological therapy, such as trauma-focused therapy. Doctors may also prescribe antidepressants to help patients manage their symptoms.

Other Common OCD Sub-Types

It is not uncommon for an individual suffering from one OCD sub-type to also suffer from other sub-types. Treating co-occurring sub-types simultaneously is important in finding balance and healing from OCD.

Harm OCD
Homosexual (HOCD)
Pure O (Pure Obsessional OCD)
Relationship OCD
Sexual OCD

Other Common Anxiety Disorders

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder
Post-Traumatic Disorder
Body Dysmorphic Disorder

It is not uncommon for an individual to suffer from multiple anxiety disorders. Treating co-occurring conditions simultaneously is important in finding balance and healing from anxiety.

What Causes Hypochondria (Illness Anxiety)?

Hypochondria can be triggered by several factors such as:

  • A stressful life event
  • The threat of a serious illness (that turns out not to be that serious)
  • A childhood illness
  • Having a parent or family member with a medical condition
  • Excessive health related Internet use, that is constantly reading health related news or article

Common Symptoms of Hypochondria

Hypochondria become a serious problem when symptoms are persistent for at least six months.

  • Being fixated on the idea of being sick or acquiring a serious disease or illness
  • Believing that aches or body reactions are actually horrible diseases
  • Panic / Anxiety Attacks about the condition of your health
  • Continued worrying after a diagnosis has been made
  • Being preoccupied about the thoughts of your risk of acquiring or inheriting health issues because members of the family have it
  • Excessive distress about possible medical condition that is affecting your social, occupational and professional relationship
  • Repetitive and excessively monitoring self for possible indications of illness
  • Consulting several doctors for second opinions — or avoidance of medical care for fear of discovering a serious medical condition
  • Avoiding social contacts and events for the fear of getting infected with illness
  • Searching Google or WebMD regarding symptoms you experience

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