What is Hypochondria/Illness Anxiety Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

Hypochondria is the old name for illness anxiety disorder. Some people are fearful that they have got a life-threatening illness without exhibiting any symptoms of it. Today, we’ll discuss what is hypochondria/illness anxiety disorder; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is Hypochondria? 

Hypochondria or illness anxiety disorder is when a person is fearful of having a serious health condition or at the risk of getting it. They misunderstand the normal functioning of their body as a symptom of illness. However, when the medical tests don’t show any signs of illness; they still think that they’re serious. The worries of illness would disturb their career, profession, and relationship.

Nowadays, many healthcare professionals use the term illness anxiety disorder rather than hypochondria. People with illness anxiety disorder feel that their fear is very much real to them, and they don’t have control over how they feel.

According to an estimate, hypochondriasis is a rare condition, and it impacts roundabout .1% of the US people. Illness anxiety disorder could impact any gender or any age, but usually, it exhibits its symptoms in the early adulthood of a person’s life.

Types of Illness Anxiety Disorder 

Some of the main types of anxiety disorder are as follows;

  • Care Avoidant: it’s the type when you ignore the medical care and doctors; either they don’t take your signs seriously, or you don’t trust them. It results in the form of anxiety and stress.
  • Care Seeking: you visit various healthcare professionals and spend a lot of time there. You get yourself medically tested and see advice from various specialists.

Symptoms of Hypochondria 

People with illness anxiety disorder experience the unrealistic fear of getting seriously ill. The illness that causes worrisome feelings keeps on changing. Some people with hypochondria have got the actual diagnosis of physical illness, and it makes them feel that their condition is more severe. Some of the main symptoms of illness anxiety disorder are as follows;

  • Not feeling good about the healthy body functions like seating or gas
  • Asking for reassurance from others about your health and the symptoms that you’re experiencing
  • Checking for the symptoms of illness repetitively like temperature or blood pressure test
  • Oversharing the status of your health and symptoms with others
  • Obsessively reacting to the normal body functions like heart rate
  • Higher anxiety level about your health
  • Exaggerating the severity of the symptoms; for instance, coughing would become the symptom of lung cancer
  • Researching for the symptoms and diseases consistently
  • Avoid visiting places and meeting with people due to the fear of catching an illness

Causes of Hypochondria 

Researchers don’t know the exact causes of hypochondria or mental health disorders. You’re more vulnerable to developing illness anxiety disorder condition if you have got a family history of;

  • A traumatic event like emotional/physical abuse or rape
  • Depression, anxiety, or other types of mental health issues
  • Any type of serious illness or childhood illness that the family has experienced during the childhood
  • Anxiety disorder or health anxiety in the family
  • Extreme stress level
  • Neglect, childhood abuse, or any type of childhood traumatic event

Diagnosis of Illness Anxiety Disorder 

Your doctor or healthcare provider would follow the criteria of the 5th edition of DSM (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders) and APA (American psychological association) in order to diagnose an illness anxiety disorder. Your healthcare provider would refer you to a psychologist or a behavioral specialist.

One of the top signs of illness anxiety disorder is the fear of getting a serious illness. Your doctor would diagnose you with hypochondria when the symptoms of fear of illness have been persistent for the past 6 months or more, and the medical tests show no signs of any physical ailment.

Complications of Illness Anxiety Disorder 

The worrisome and fearful feelings would cause you a lot of stress impacting your mental and physical health. Illness anxiety disorder could jeopardize personal life and relationships. You keep on avoiding friends and their get-togethers about your unrealistic fear of health or illness. In severe cases, it results in the form of suicidal thoughts and depression. The condition amplifies the risk of;

  • Taking unnecessary medical tests and their potential complications
  • Unemployment and medical disability
  • Struggling financial due to not going to the job and pending medical bills

Treatment of Hypochondria 

Your doctor or psychologist would devise a treatment plan for you relevant to the severity of the symptoms. The focus of the treatment plan is to reduce the symptoms and improve the quality of life. Some of the main treatment plans are as follows;

  • CBT: cognitive behavioral therapy would help you to manage your anxiety and fear and deal with them in the healthier ways
  • Medications: antidepressant medicines would reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression

Conclusion: What is Hypochondria? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is hypochondria; its symptoms, causes, and treatment; we have realized that illness and anxiety disorder would badly impact your life and relationships. If you’re experiencing its symptoms, then you should discuss it with the therapist in your area.