Hypochondriasis or hypochondria (sometimes referred to as health phobia or health anxiety) refers to excessive preoccupation or worry about having a serious illness.This debilitating condition is the result of an inaccurate perception of the body’s condition despite the absence of an actual medical condition.
In today's world, it seems increasingly hard not to be at least borderline paranoid. "We all carry the germ of hypochondria. And today, we have the resources to stay fixated on sickness. The line between being health conscious and being disease-obsessed is very thin," states Dr Puri.
The full criteria of hypochondriasis, including the criterion that patients refuse to accept medical reassurance that symptoms had no physical causation, were identified only in 0.8% of cases in primary care (in 41 of 5447 patients across 14 countries); the prevalence of "abridged hypochondriasis" was 2.2%. Patients with abridged hypochondriasis were different from nonhypochondriac patients but highly similar to patients meeting the full ICD-10 criteria.
Behavioural approaches to treatment have only recently been applied.
Providing the person with an understanding and supporting environment might help decrease the severity of the symptoms and help him or her better cope with the disorder.
Hypochondriasis tends to be a long-term (chronic) condition that can last for years. In many cases, symptoms can recur. In the past, we believed only a small percentage of patients could recover completely
Factors that might be involved in the development of the disorder include the following:
* A history of physical or sexual abuse
* A poor ability to express emotions
* A parent or close relative with the disorder — Children might learn this behavior if a parent is overly concerned about disease and/or overreacts to even minor illnesses.
* An inherited susceptibility for the disorder
People with hypochondriasis are not faking or lying about their symptoms; they truly believe they are sick.
No one knows what causes hypochondriasis, but there are several theories, including:
* The belief that an illness may be deserved due to some past real or imagined wrongdoing.
* Having learned apparent benefits of being sick, such as receiving attention. Hypochondriasis may occur in an individual who had a childhood illness or had a sibling with a childhood illness.
* May be related to another psychiatric disorder, such as anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder. In other words, hypochondriasis may develop from, or be a sign of, one of these other disorders.
Hypochondriasis, or hypochondria, is an overwhelming fear that you have a serious disease, even though health care providers can find no evidence of illness
Cognitive-behavioural treatment is an effective therapy for hypochondriasis.