Being cautious about your health is good but worrying unrealistically about the chances of developing a serious disease is in itself a health condition called Hypochondria or illness anxiety disorder. Today, let’s talk about this disorder, identifying the symptoms, and understanding its treatment.
Do you spend too much time irrationally thinking of getting ill? Discussing your anxiety with an expert may calm your nerves.
Hypochondria or illness anxiety disorder is when you worry excessively about your physical symptoms, thinking that you’re ill or might fall ill, despite medical tests showing that you’re healthy. This worry is so deep that it starts interfering with your daily life.
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Types of Hypochondria
People with this type of hypochondria usually spend a lot of time around their doctors. They visit several specialists and request frequent tests even when not needed.
In care-avoiding hypochondria, people avoid doctor visits and routine checkups. This can be due to many reasons like lack of trust in doctors, thinking that the doctors don’t take your symptoms seriously, or other reasons.
Remember, being aware of your health issues is the first step towards wellness. Keep a close eye on your health status with regular preventive health checkups.
Signs of Hypochondria
1. Worrying about your health constantly
2. Checking your body for signs of illness, such as lumps, tingling, or pain, more than recommended
3. Always looking for reassurance about not being ill
4. Worrying that the doctor or medical tests may be wrong or have missed something
5. Obsessively reading about health information on the Internet or in the media
6. Avoiding medical TV shows or other programs that have anything to do with serious illness.
7. Avoiding people or going places because you’re scared of catching illnesses
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Higher risk of Hypochondria
Although the exact cause and risks of hypochondria are not known, there may be some factors that can increase the risk of hypochondria such as:
- Childhood trauma such as child abuse, negligence, or illnesses.
- Extreme stress.
- Family history of health anxieties.
- Pre-existing mental health concerns such as anxiety or depression.
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How to Manage your Illness Anxiety
1. Log your habits: Keep a diary where you note down when and how many times you check your health or ask for reassurance from people. Aim to reduce this frequency week on week.
2. Keep yourself engaged: Whenever the health worry creeps in and you feel the urge to check your health, distract yourself and engage in some other task like going for a walk, reading a book, watching a video, etc
Staying physically active can not only help you manage your health but also keep stress and worry at bay.
3. Practice relaxation techniques: Sometimes our minds take charge of how we function. Instances like these hamper our daily lives. Practice deep breathing exercises and relaxation techniques regularly to calm yourself.
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4. Seek help from an expert: It is normal for people to get worried about their health sometimes. But if this worry starts interfering with your daily life, it is important to talk about it to an expert. Your doctor may collaborate with a mental health expert to ensure you feel better.
Don’t hesitate to speak to an expert if your health anxiety is taking a toll on you.
How to Treat Hypochondria?
Hypochondria can be managed with help from an expert. Your doctor may combine talk therapy and stress management techniques to help you deal with symptoms. Typically, medicines are not given to most people.