Hypochondria: causes, symptoms and treatment

We all sometimes worry about our own health, but when we are sure we have a health problem despite analyzes that say otherwise, it may be hypochondria.


Hypochondria is the anxiety disorder described by the intense and unmotivated worries we make about our health. This is a symptomatic somatic disorder.


Causes of hypochondria

The exact causes of the onset of this condition are unknown, but some factors are involved in its development:


Family – people who have relatives with hypochondria are more likely to develop this condition.


Personal History – People who have had serious health problems at some point in their lives are more prone to hypochondriac because past experiences make them develop a disproportionate fear of illness.


Associated psychiatric disorders – most patients with hypochondria also suffer from depression, obsessive-compulsive behavior, panic disorder or generalized anxiety.


Risk factors

The predisposition for hypochondria, but also for other conditions of an anxious nature varies from person to person.

People might be more prone to this condition if:


  • They are going through a very stressful period
  • They were suspected of a serious illness
  • They were abused in childhood
  • They have a parent suffering from a very serious illness


Signs and symptoms of hypochondria


Fear of the normal functions of the body – a hypochondriac person will be afraid and perceive as signs of various disease normal functions of the body such as heart beat, sweating, the need to go to the toilet.


Fear of minor problems that may occur – the hypochondriac patient will pay insane amount of attention to common symptoms such as skin irritations, nasal congestion or mild abdominal cramps.


Searching for signs of illness – hypochondriac people constantly check the body, looking for signs of a disease.


Permanent talk about health – a patient with hypochondria has an exaggerated tendency to talk about his health and about diseases.


Frequent visits to the doctor – hypochondrias often go to the doctor, hoping that the doctor will identify the disorder that is disturbing them. The fact that the doctor does not detect anything in the irregularity does not reassure the hypochondriac patient, but rather frustrates him further more , being convinced that there actually is something that the doctor does not detect.


Complete avoidance of the doctor – there are also situations in which the hypochondonists completely avoids visits to the doctor, fearing that they will find out the actual condition that torments them.


Avoiding various contexts – the hypochondriac patient can avoid certain people, places or activities that he or she considers to be hazardous to their health.


If these symptoms do not disappear within 6 months it means that there are signs of the somatic symptomatic disorder called hypochondria.


Hypochondriac treatment

The goal of treatment for hypochondria is to improve the symptoms and improve the quality of life. Psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, can be helpful in treating hypochondriac as well as other anxiety disorders.


The medication can be considered useful by the doctor, especially in situations where hypochondria is so pronounced that it prevents the individual from having a normal life. Antidepressants and anxiolytics can be used for this purpose.

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