Hypochondriasis is a disorder in which people strongly believe that they have a serious or life-threatening illness despite having no, or mild, or few symptoms. They are excessively and unduly worried about having a serious illness. Actually it is a disorder of "perception and cognition. In the DSM-5, it is diagnosed as illness anxiety disorder. For example, a person who has a minor cough may think that he/she has tuberculosis or some other disease.
People with hypochondriasis have: 1. Preoccupation with fears of having, or the idea that one has, a serious disease based on the person's misinterpretation of bodily symptoms. Physical symptoms are not present or if present, only mild, 2. The preoccupation persists despite appropriate medical evaluation and reassurance, 3. Constantly talking and checking about their health and possible illnesses, 4. Frequently searching the internet for causes of symptoms or possible illnesses.5. The preoccupation causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning for at least 6 months.
People with hypochondriasis may have had a serious illness in the past that could lead them to misinterpret that all body sensations are serious, so they search for evidence to confirm that they have a serious disease or if they had parents who worried too much about their own health or their child’s health. People who excessively use the internet to search for health information and who have a tendency toward being a worrier / who have major life stress are at risk of hypochondriasis.
To prevent hypochondriasis one can learn how to recognize stressor when they're stressed and how this affects the body and they can regularly practice stress management and relaxation techniques. One can stick with their treatment plan to relapses or worsening of symptoms of hypochondriasis.
Most research indicates that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for hypochondriasis. If you have hypochondriasis, you can seek professional advice as soon as possible. Hopefully you will get rid of hypochondriasis soon.
Written by: Md. Abu Tareque, Psychologist, Daffodil International University