Being a hypochondriac is not something people can control. In fact, for many, it is something that develops slowly over time. While there is a lot of stigma around this term, it is something that not many people know how to deal with. This is why you should better understand this by understanding what a hypochondriac is and how to deal with a hypochondriac, among other things.
The first thing to understand is the meaning of hypochondriac. While most people understand, the definition of a hypochondriac is a little more complex. Yes, as most people assume, it is a person who tends to think they have varying medical conditions when they do not. It is also important to note when looking at the definition of a hypochondriac that it is also known as health anxiety.
However, this goes much deeper. In many cases, the person may feel pain, referred to as hypochondriac pain and other symptoms that may make them think they have the symptoms of various medical conditions. If you asked someone to define hypochondriac, chances are they would not relate physical symptoms with it.
The most common place for hypochondriacs to experience pain is in what is called the hypochondriac region. This is the ribs and abdomen of a person and where they will generally feel pains associated with significant illnesses.
What Causes Someone to be a Hypochondriac?
Several things may cause a person to become a hypochondriac. The most common are anxiety, for one, Who can feel anxiety’s physical symptoms in weird aches and pains. When you combine this with the mental factor that causes a person to worry and immediately think of the worst cases scenario, it is simply a recipe for a hypochondriac.
This is a condition that is not fully known. Many believe that it can come from mental issues, such as anxiety and other factors in someone’s life. This can include upbringing, life experiences and much more. The thing to understand is that anyone can be a hypochondriac. They can also establish these symptoms at any time, not just when they are young.
There are a few risk factors that can cause a person to be more susceptible to this condition. This includes having a significant illness, especially as a child or knowing someone who does—also, being subjected to neglect or abuse from your parents. Having a loved one die can trigger this condition. If someone in your family or you are close to has hypochondria, you are also at risk for this condition.
While the internet is a valuable resource that helps people worldwide find things they need daily, it can be pretty damaging to hypochondriacs. This is because when they feel a little pain in their side, they cause to use a search engine or even a symptom checker online to find out what may be causing the pain. Even though the cause of their pain may be a lack of proper hydration, they may think that they have cancer, appendicitis or maybe even a bowel obstruction.
Symptoms of a Hypochondriac
There are a few hypochondriac symptoms you should know about. By taking this hypochondriac quiz, you will better understand whether you or someone you care about is hypochondriacal. Here are some of the symptoms:
- A long-term fear of specific illnesses or illnesses in general
- Worry that minor aches, pains and other symptoms can mean a severe condition
- Continuously discuss fear of illnesses or symptoms you are having with people you know.
- You frequently check your temperature, blood pressure, glucose levels or other vitals, even though your doctor does not require it.
- Reading about a disease or condition and then thinking you have it.
- Obsessing health information and doing extensive research
- Having very involved procedures done, such as MRIs or exploratory surgery
- Changing doctors when your doctor tells you nothing is wrong, yet you think there is
You may be asking yourself, “Am I a hypochondriac?” If you found that most of these symptoms were something you go through, then chances are that this could be something you suffer from. However, this does not automatically mean you have it. Instead, you will need to seek out a mental health professional to be evaluated. From there, they will be able to give you a diagnosis and help you with the treatment you need to stop this condition in its tracks.
The Difference Between Hypochondria and Normal Health Concerns
Just because you are concerned about your health does not automatically make you a hypochondriac. It is healthy to be concerned with whether you are being healthy or not. What sets these apart is that people with health anxiety will automatically think of the worst case out of their symptoms. A person without this condition will realize that the symptoms can be similar to normal or mild conditions as major ones.
For instance, if an average person were to experience shortness of breath and pain in their chest after running, they may naturally assume that it is from over-exerting themselves. A person with hypochondria will instead think that they may have an aneurysm in their lungs or maybe even that they have a heart attack.
Looking at some famous hypochondriacs can help people realize that this condition is not discerning in who it chooses. People of all education levels, backgrounds and ages can suffer from this condition. Some of the famous people in history who have dealt with this include:
- Abigail Breslin- You may recognize her as the little girl in Signs or Little Miss Sunshine. Either way, it is easy to see this young lady’s smartness. She has talked about her health anxiety in interviews. She said her fears were irrational, such as stepping on the glass even in bed. It got to the point that she was not allowed to watch medical shows for fear that she would find new conditions she thought she had.
- Adolf Hitler- What many people do not know about Hitler is that he was always concerned with his health. Who convinced him that he had a myriad of different medical conditions. He would have his medical team give him different medications for this. It included medications for diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and many other illnesses.
- Charles Darwin- Since he is a revered scientist, many people think he would not suffer from something like this. However, he had many perceived illnesses. The way he would treat himself for this was with water baths. This consisted of taking cold baths wrapped in and rubbed with cold, wet sheets. He was even known to keep detailed records of his flatulence.
Dealing With Someone Who is a Hypochondriac
For many people, dealing with a hypochondriac can be complex. Your natural reaction may be to tell them the absurdity of their claims or to ignore them. However, there are more beneficial things you can do for them. Instead, being supportive is the best thing you can do for them. This takes patience from you, but if you care about the person, then it is worth it.
There are a few ways that you can be supportive of the person. The simplest way to do this is to understand why they think they have the condition. Sometimes, it may be as easy as rationalizing with the person to help them see the lack of reason in their thinking. While you may convince them at that moment, this may continue to be an issue for them. For people with health anxiety or any anxiety, reason does not always stop the internal battle over the fear of different things.
It is also essential to remember that while talking to the person, you may not be able to change their mind. You cannot just convince them they are not sick. In many cases, they may agree with you to make you stop talking about it, but this does not make it any less of a reality for them. It can be helpful to convince them to see a doctor and discuss their perceived illness with the doctor and that people are concerned they are hypochondriacs.
When to Seek Hypochondriac Help
If you have symptoms of hypochondria on this list, it may be time to seek help. Also, if people call you a hypochondriac, you may want to see someone. Your doctor or medical staff may advise it as well. While this may seem overwhelming, it is better than it sounds. You will sit down with a psychiatrist or psychologist to discuss this. They will ask you questions and get a better understanding of what you are dealing with. From there, they will recommend a course of treatment.
What Can be Done for Hypochondriac Treatment
Even though this is a challenging condition, some treatments can help. The treatments needed will vary from person to person, and it is best to allow your mental health professionals to find the right treatment course for you. However, these are some methods they may use to treat health anxiety.
This is the primary treatment used for health anxiety. Who can use different methods of psychotherapy? For instance, cognitive behavior therapy is helpful in many circumstances. This is because it teaches you how to recognize the signs of health anxiety and what triggers it. On top of this, it also helps you learn how to stop these behaviors. You may even undergo exposure therapy which makes you face the illnesses or things you are scared of to deal with the fear and overcome it. This is generally done in a controlled environment with professionals to ensure that it is done properly and safely.
If counseling alone is insufficient, some psychiatrists will prescribe medications. Depending on other issues you may suffer, you may be given different medications. Several medications have been shown to help with this, including medications for anxiety and depression. This includes SSRI medications and tricyclic antidepressants.
Another way that can help treat hypochondriacs is education. By understanding what hypochondria is, you will better understand it so you can manage it better. However, educating yourself on illnesses, you perceive, and their unlikelihood is often helpful in many cases.
Most hypochondriacs find that their symptoms get better if they can resist the urge to jump onto WebMD symptom checker or even just Google and look at their symptoms. This is easier said than done but can be very helpful. Some people find it helpful to block websites that trigger their health anxiety.
Whether you are a hypochondriac or know someone who is, it is essential to realize that there is a treatment. It may take time to overcome this and get back to normal, but it is a battle of Who can win.