Hypochondriasis

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Definition:
A belief that physical symptoms are signs of a serious illness, even when there is no medical evidence to support the presence of an illness.

Symptoms:

People can't control their fears and worries. Any symptom they experience, they believe that it is a sign of a serious and deadly illness. The person is constantly checking their body.

Causes:

Exact causes of hypochondriasis are not known, but some factors that are involved with the development of the disorder include:
  • Physical and sexual abuse
  • Inability to express emotions
  • A parent or close relative with the disorder, which is often passed down to the child
  • Susceptibility to the disorder

Treatment:

There are 3 main types of treament for hyprochondriasis.
  • Supportive Care - Typically from a doctor, that supports the person and can constantly reassure them from receiving uneeded treatments and tests.
  • Medicines - Antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs may be prescribed.
  • Psychotherapy - Counseling and therapy can help the patient deal with their stress levels better and improve their social and work functioning.

Anecdote:

Joan from hyporelief.com

I am a fifty five year old woman and I sometimes have a fear that I am sick with an undetected terrible disease or ailment. I was sitting in my house saying to myself Am I dying. I recently had a bad scare when I suddenly developed severe chest pain that made me feel as though my chest would collapse. The pain would occasionally be accompanied with relentless headaches, leaving me feeling faint. I was quite certain that I had developed a chronic heart disease.

I was always busy running my business but when the chest pain started, it gradually started to affect my work. I attributed it all to stress and started once again to take my anxiety pills to help me relax. I hadn’t needed to take those in quite awhile. At that point in time, I was trying to expand my business and needed to devote more and more time to it, but the chest pain got quite severe and I could no longer keep up with my duties at home or work. The pain seemed to come much more often and the headaches that accompanied them aimed to split my head open. I went to see the doctor who believed that too much stress was the most probable cause of my symptoms; but I really believed that I had a chronic problem with my heart. The doctor did a physical, conducted a stress test with the treadmill and took my medical history; but still just insisted that I needed to reduce my stress. By this time the pain had made work totally impossible and I still felt all of the same symptoms as before, even though I had tried to take it easy a little more. I didn’t think the doctor really knew what he was talking about so I did not take no for an answer and asked that further tests be conducted. So, the doctor complied to my nagging and had to conducted an EKG test to check my heart.

My symptoms were however not caused by any heart disease as the test proved. It seemed that the doctor had been right, because I improved when he placed me on anti-depressants and a different anxiety medication. Stress and worry seemed to be the cause of my erratic symptoms and since then, with the help of medication, I have learned to rest better, worry less and enjoy better health.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002216/
http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?&id=GALE%7CCX3406000326&v=2.1&u=pleasant_valhs&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w
http://www.hyporelief.com/popular/40-chest/169-dealing-with-a-false-chronic-heart-disease-chest-cardiac

Recommended Best Source:

http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/hypochondriasis/hic_hypochondriasis.aspx
Made by: Jordan Barnes, Clay Eagleton, and Ryan Andrew