Understanding Hypochondria

A friend had to go through the painful experience of watching his mother suffer the effects of colon cancer. The mother had cavalierly treated her health, didn’t go to the doctor to have her condition checked and the colon cancer was shown to be asymptomatic, so no serious treatment was made until it was too late. My friend saw his mother suffer from the cancer and die. As a result, he went to the other extreme – being too preoccupied with his health and convinced that he, too, will contract the same disease. Small aches and pains will drive him to demand a room in the hospital, even though his doctor has reassured him that he’s okay.

What is hypochondria?

Hypochondria is marked by an extreme preoccupation with one’s health. Simply put, it is an exaggerated health anxiety, despite the fact that thorough medical evaluation has ruled out any serious disease. The number of people suffering from hypochondria is difficult to pin, since people with hypochondria tend to go to their doctors instead of therapists in Provo or a mental healthcare practitioner. Nevertheless, approximately 1% of the American adult population has hypochondria.

According to Utah therapists, the preoccupation can be unhealthy due to the fact that it has already interfered with the person’s ability to lead a normal life. He is unable to deal with the needs of his family, relationships and work because his schedule is peppered with visits to the doctor or hospital stays.

Please take note that it is normal to worry and be concerned about one’s health, to learn to listen to your body and determine whether there are symptoms of a disease. However, a hypochondriac has taken this normal concern to an extreme.

Hypochondria can be marked by:
–    Physical “symptoms” include nausea, dizziness, numbness, fatigue, stomachaches, headaches, soreness of the body. Usually, the pains are subjective, something that cannot be absolutely quantified by lab tests, MRI and CAT scans.
–    Simple aches and pains, a cut, a cough, a runny nose or minor physical aberrations are seen to be serious diseases. (i.e. a stomach ache can be considered stomach cancer.) In some cases, even normal body functions (sweating, falling hair, bowel movements) can be seen as warning signs of a serious health condition.
–    The symptoms are sometimes vague (“My liver feels sore.” “My joints feel achy.”), sometimes specific.
–    Indulging in exploratory surgery or complicated diagnostic exams such as CAT scans or MRIs
–    The selected disease is usually something that is serious and life threatening.
–    The tendency to self-diagnose. When the disease of choice is ruled out by his doctor, he immediately researches the possibility that the symptoms can match another serious disease.
–    The tendency of research about perceived symptoms excessively.
–    Obsessively watching out for changes in the body to see whether there are problems or the problem has “worsened”.
–    Switching doctors frequently, especially if the previous doctors have already given him a clean bill of health and is not “listening to him”.
–    Talking about his illness and its symptoms to anyone who will listen.

Hypochondria can be debilitating and harmful to one’s health. There is a propensity to take medications without the doctor’s prescription or to abuse substances and drugs in an effort to alleviate the “symptoms”. The anxiety over getting seriously ill can also result in depression or other anxiety disorders. The unnecessary medical examinations, exploratory surgeries and medical procedures can also pose a serious threat to one’s health.

Hypochondria and the Internet

The access to ready information about symptoms and matching diseases has fueled more anxiety. This isn’t helped by the fact that minor ailments and major diseases can often share similar symptoms. If one continues searching for an illness that matches one’s perceived symptoms, chances are, he will find a serious illness he can get anxious about.

Treatment for hypochondria

Therapists in Utah can help with alleviating the symptoms and problematic behavior caused by hypochondria. Regular Provo counseling can help the patient come to an understanding that his symptoms are not caused by a physical disease, rather, it is a health anxiety problem. This understanding can help lessen the anxiety.

Hypochondria can be treated by Utah counselors with the help of cognitive-behavioral treatment. Those suffering from hypochondria can deal with it and overcome the anxiety about their health with the help of medications, therapy or counseling.

Get a Free Consultation

or call (801) 215-9581
for an appointment

Our Location

1426 East 820 North
Orem UT 84097
(Map it)