Do You Think You Are Sick All the Time?

 

Some people believe they are sick most of the time. They feel a great fear that something is medically wrong, but after visits to the doctor, no signs of serious physical disorders are found. Nonetheless, the person continues to suffer from anxiety to the point that healthy social and emotional functioning are affected. Such behavior could be signs of a psychological disorder known as hypochondria.

 

Hypochondriasis is a condition in which an individual believes he/she is suffering from a serious illness. The person with this disorder is usually obsessed about his or her physiological functions.

One feature of hypochondriasis is the fear of severe illness, even if doctors and medical results show the opposite. The person is extremely concerned by simply having a mole, cough, or even a small wound.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM- IV-TR), there are certain criteria for the diagnosis of hypochondriasis:
1. Preoccupation with fears of having, or the idea of ​​having a serious illness from the personal interpretation of somatic symptoms.
2. The preoccupation persists despite appropriate medical evaluation and reassurance.
3. The preoccupation causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.
4. The duration of the disturbance is at least 6 months.

We must pay close attention and not exclude the possibility that the person may truly be physically ill. On many occasions, the person focuses attention on mild symptoms (e.g. dizziness or headache) and not on truly important ones. Also, the person with hypochondriasis can focus excessive attention on a particular part of the body, believing that there is something wrong with it, and may end up getting sick after all by ignoring other physical signs or symptoms.

Hypochondriasis is closely related to somatoform disorder and to some extent with anxiety disorders. Individuals with hypochondriasis may often take their pulse, check their temperature, measure their number of breaths per minute, and check their blood pressure several times a day. These individuals may go so far as to give up almost everything in life and spend countless hours caring for their imaginary illness.

 

Fortunately there is help, if you or someone you know is suffering from this condition. Contact a mental health professional in your community today.

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