Hypochondriasis is usually episodic, with hypochondriacal periods lasting from months to years and with equally long quiescent periods. Hypochondriasis appears to occur equally in men and women. Hypochondriasis manifests in various ways. Some people have numerous intrusive thoughts and physical sensations that push them to check with family, friends and physicians. Other people are so afraid of any reminder of illness that they will avoid medical professionals for a seemingly minor problem, sometimes to the point of becoming neglectful of their health when a serious condition may exist and go undiagnosed. The symptoms they describe can range from general complaints-such as pain or tiredness-to concerns about normal body functions such as breathing or stomach noises. People with hypochondriasis are not faking or lying about their symptoms; they truly believe they are sick. The symptoms associated with hypochondriasis are not under the person’s voluntary control, and can cause great distress and/or can interfere with a person’s normal functioning. Developmental and other predisposing factors consistently indicate the importance of parental attitudes toward disease, previous experience with physical disease, and culturally acquired attitudes relevant to the etiology of the disorder. Neurochemical deficits with hypochondriasis and some other somatoform disorders (eg, BDD) appear similar to those of depressive and anxiety disorders. The social learning theory frames hypochondriasis as a request for admission to the sick role made by a person facing seemingly insurmountable and insolvable problems. Treatment with serotonin reuptake inhibitors, a class of antidepressants, may be effective. Cognitive-behavior therapy may also relieve symptoms.
Causes of Hypochondriasis
Common causes and Risk factors of Hypochondriasis
Physical or sexual abuse.
Poor ability to express emotions.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypochondriasis
Common Sign and Symptoms of Hypochondriasis
Treatment of Hypochondriasis
Common Treatment of Hypochondriasis
People with hypochondriasis may also benefit from psychotherapy. Group therapy, behavior modification, and cognitive therapy have been reported to work particularly well.
Drugs are generally not used to treat hypochondriasis specifically. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as sertraline, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, or paroxetine, are sometimes prescribed.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you identify thoughts that contribute to fears about illness and to correct the misinterpretation of body sensations.
Behavioral-stress management therapy teaches stress management and relaxation techniques to help people avoid becoming focused on illness during stressful situations.
Acupuncture has also been shown to help.
Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Limit sugar, dairy, and refined, processed foods.