Hypochondria is a difficult condition that is widely misunderstood - even by those that suffer from it. The good news is that hypochondria is easy to treat, as long as you understand it. That's why we'll introduce hypochondria in this article.
Suffering From Hypochondria?
Hypochondria is anxiety like any other. You can learn to control it with the right coping strategies. Find out more about these coping strategies with my free 7 minute anxiety test.
Introduction to Hypochondria
Hypochondria is essentially "health anxiety." While the specifics are a bit more complicated, the idea is that hypochondriacs are concerned with and monitor their own health, often exhibiting behavioral changes as a result of those concerns. Hypochondria can be a standalone issue, or the symptom of other anxieties like panic disorder. Take my anxiety test if you haven't yet to understand this further.
How that health anxiety manifests is debated, and is different for different people:
- Some read about health conditions and notice it in themselves.
- Some feel physical sensations and wonder if they're health related.
- Some fear for health things that they may not have any symptoms of.
Most people experience some combination of these. Despite media portrayals, most people's health anxiety is related to feeling actual, physical sensations and then worrying that they may be something more. Those that read about health issues and then start to feel them are experiencing what's known as "psychosomatic" symptoms. These do occur, but they're not quite as common.
Hypochondria has become a particular problem in the Google age, where finding information on serious diseases is common. Those with anxiety already, for example, often find that their symptoms are identical to issues like:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Lyme Disease
- Heart Disease
- Brain Tumors
It's not uncommon to search for an anxiety symptom and find one of those diseases to come up, even though anxiety is far more common and likely. The symptoms may even be identical, but people have a tendency to worry about the condition that's worse and harder to treat.
Those that have hypochondria also suffer from self-monitoring and hypersensitivity. Essentially their minds are subconsciously (meaning, they're not doing this on purpose) paying very close attention to their entire body and noticing every single physical sensation that arises, no matter how minor.
Because they notice it, they are more sensitive to it, which means that they experience it stronger than those that don't have hypochondria. For example, if they feel their heartbeat increase a little bit it will "Feel" like a lot, while those without hypochondria may not even notice. This can affect everything from pain to itching to general discomfort.
Hypochondria is Hard to Control
If you look at hypochondria through that lens, where the person genuinely feels physical sensations either because their mind creates them or because the sensations are there but they notice them and experience them worse than others, it's easy to see why hypochondria isn't something that is easy to stop.
It's very hard for someone experiencing many physical symptoms and not knowing why to just forget about them. They make a person feel like they're sick, and they make the person then worry about being sick, which in turn triggers anxiety, more symptoms, and more worries. Because all of the physical sensations are genuinely felt, they can't be easily ignored. Just like you can't tell someone with a mosquito bite to stop itching, so too can you not tell someone to stop noticing pains and discomforts.
How to Stop Hypochondria
For all of these reasons hypochondria can be very difficult to control without help. However, there are ways you can reduce the symptoms of hypochondria and your anxiety and make them easier to manage, which in turn will help you learn to control them. The following represent important tools for stopping health anxiety:
Go to the Doctor In general, you don't want to be someone that goes to the doctor all the time for health reasons. But you do want to be someone that gets everything out of the way, so that you don't have nagging fears. Get a complete physical, with blood tests, and have your good health verified. However, note that going the doctor won't make you stop fearing for your health. It's not uncommon to believe the doctor missed something or that something hasn't been found yet. But going to the doctor will give you mental ammo to combat your fears.
Do The Basics Make sure you're eating healthy, exercising, and sleeping. These are the basics of good health. Especially try to jog, and get magnesium into your body. You want to make sure that you're reducing things that could cause excess physical sensations that trigger more health anxiety. Eating healthy, exercising, and sleeping are all important to prevent some of the smaller discomforts that a person with hypochondria usually notices.
Stop Googling Symptoms Googling symptoms doesn't work. Those that look up causes of physical issues are almost always only going to find the worst. Did you know that anxiety itself causes almost every physical symptom there is? Chances are the issue is anxiety, and even if it is not, there is no way you are going to know through Google.
Research Anxiety and Hypochondria The exception to this rule is anxiety and hypochondria. Research them thoroughly and understand them as best you can. The more you know about anxiety, the more you can understand how your symptoms occur and why, so that you're not surprised when you experience some strange physical sensation.
Stay Very Busy Part of your ability to control this type of anxiety has to do with how well you can avoid thinking about your health and still live a great life. That's why it's very important that you stay as busy as possible, morning to night. Some time alone is okay, but try your best to fill out your days with people and activities that take all of your energy. Even when you sleep, see if you can sleep with a radio on a low volume. By preventing your thoughts from spiraling out of control, you can prevent some of the fears that overwhelm you and cause further anxiety.
Making these changes right now can have you seeing a drastic difference in your hypochondria in a short amount of time, and reduce some of the health anxiety that's been controlling you.
I have also helped many people control their anxiety and hypochondria starting with my free 7 minute anxiety test. I strongly encourage you to take the text now to find free additional information about your anxiety and to learn how to cure it.