Emotional and Mental Health

Illness Anxiety Disorder (Hypochondriasis)

Written by Dr. Vasantha K S and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

 
Image: Illness Anxiety Disorder (Hypochondriasis)

Illness anxiety disorder (IAD), previously referred to as hypochondriasis, is an overwhelming anxiety about a perceived illness lasting for a period of more than six months. People with IAD often rush to their primary care physician fearing that they have a serious condition. The doctor's reassurance that it is nothing does nothing to calm their nerves. They then switch doctor's because they suspect their physician has missed something major. There also few who avoid simple check-ups and investigations due to the fear of being diagnosed with a chronic disease.

Symptoms

  • Being paranoid about a specific disease (eg. cancer), organ (eg. brain) or system (eg. digestive system)
  • Persistently checking/examining the body for alarming signs.
  • Rushing to the doctor repeatedly in spite of reassurance.
  • Avoiding hospital visits due to worry that disease will be diagnosed
  • Insisting the doctor for a treatment or prescription when neither is necessary.
  • Either the symptom mentioned is not present, or even if it is, is only mild.
  • In case of chronic illness, their concern is out of proportion, that is they feel sicker than they really are.
  • Reading medical articles and researching extensively about the perceived condition.

Causes

  • Severe stress.
  • Serious childhood illness.
  • A family history of genetic disorders.
  • History of abuse or assault.
  • Loss of loved one.

Diagnosis

IAD usually starts in early adulthood or soon after losing a loved one to a disease.

Their physician suspects IAD when the person's complaints and history do not co-relate to their clinical findings. They are then referred to a mental health specialist, although, more often than not, he/she refuses to consult one.

The symptoms may also be reported by a close friend or family member.

Other signs to note are visiting multiple doctors without any conclusive findings.

Treatment

The hardest part of treating hypochondriasis is to get the patient to believe that their problem is more mental than physical. Since the physical symptoms they feel are very realistic, it is difficult for them to accept that there is no ailment. It is thus important for the doctor to deal with it correctly without brushing off the patient's concerns. This disorder is fairly common and fortunately, physicians know how to provide assurance in a proper way. The most accepted treatment is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)

What is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

The person is taught strategies to cope with their anxiety. This includes multiple sessions that are designed to gradually reduce their anxiety by exposing them to their fears as well as replacing their negative thoughts with positive ones. It includes:

  • Exposure and response prevention.
  • Cognitive restructuring.
  • Relaxation training.

For more information consult an anxiety disorders specialist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/psychiatrist/anxiety-disorders

Last reviewed at: 07.Sep.2018

RATING

23
 


Do you have a question on Anxiety Disorder or Psychiatric Illness Denial Factors?
 
* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.
 

Related Questions & Answers


I get negative thoughts periodically. Is this a mental illness?
Query: Hello doctor,I am having repeated thoughts in my head from the last four months. This problem started at the age of 13, but on a periodic basis like three to six months. After that, it becomes normal. When I am in this phase, I have scary thoughts, feel like mind is racing, have wavering thoughts a...  Read Full »
Dr. Lisa Barros Mascarenhas
Psychiatrist

Answer: Hello, Welcome to icliniq.com. I wish to ask a few questions about it to clarify things. After how long does this episode recur? What is the content of your thoughts? Examples would be better. During the episodes: a) Do you get normal or less sleep? b) Do you feel very happy or angry? c) Do you lik...  Read Full »
 
How to convince my wife to see a psychiatrist?
Query: Hello doctor,This is regarding my wife. From the past three years, her behavior is very changed. She is always rude to me, gets angry often, becomes violent, uses foul language, throws household items when angry, accuses me of having extra-marital affairs, and threatens to make false allegations a...  Read Full »
Dr. Ramchandra Lamba
Sexologist

Answer: Hello, Welcome to icliniq.com. This kind of behavior is not normal. However, the reason for such a behavior can be understood once she is evaluated by a psychiatrist in person. These symptoms could be due to psychotic disorders, but it is too early to reach a conclusion.So, take her to a psychiatris...  Read Full »
 
My anxiety disorder relapsed after I drank beer. What should I do?
Query: Hello doctor, I have anxiety and panic since five years. My GP had given Nexito forte and Veniz XR 37.5. And, I felt better and asked him to reduce the dosage two years ago. He stopped both and gave Nextio plus from then till date. I felt better. I did not smoke or drink while on treatment. 10 days ...  Read Full »
Dr. Saravan Pramod Settipalli
Internal Medicine Physician

Answer: Hello, Welcome to icliniq.com. It seems to be an anxiety disorder. You need to avoid the triggering factors that cause the relapse. Be it alcohol or something like smoking, family issues or financial problems. It is better to be on Nexito forte (Escitalopram and Clonazepam) during the episode o...  Read Full »
 
Stress in a Broad Perspective - More Than Merely a Mental Illness!!
Article Overview: Stress is not always due to the mental (psychiatric) illnesses. Physical wellness also counts for stress levels in modern life.  Read Article »
Dr. Muhammad M. Hanif Md.
Internal Medicine Physician

      What Do You Think Is Stress in Your Daily Life? Stress is not just a mental illness. It is not merely a disease of your brain and not always mean that you have a serious psychiatric disorder. It is a multi-factorial disorder including general physical wellness, issues related t ...  Read Article »
 
Importance of Counseling and Psychosocial Aspects of HIV Infection
Article Overview: Counseling not only alleviates anxiety, but also prepares an individual for any adverse outcome of the test. Here, I have discussed a few facts about pre-test and post-test counseling in HIV patients.  Read Article »
Dr. Suvash Sahu
HIV AIDS Specialist

Counseling an individual with HIV infection is important because HIV infection is lifelong. An individual can avoid acquiring HIV infection or transmitting it to others by changing their own behavior. The diagnosis of HIV infection in an apparently healthy individual can create a lot ...  Read Article »
 
Taking 5mg lorazapam for anxiety disorder gives poor response. Is it safe to take one more tablet?
Query: Dear Doctor, I have panic/anxiety disorder and was prescribed with 5mg lorazepam. I took one tablet at 8 PM but still l would wake up anxious in the morning. Is it safe to take one more tablet?  Read Full »
Dr. Ashok Kumar Choudhary
Geriatrician

Answer: Hi, Thanks for posting your query at icliniq.com. At this moment you can take another 0.5mg but do not repeat it after that. Tomorrow you can discuss your poor response to the 0.5mg lorazepam either with your physician or you can discuss with me online, if online therapy for a psychiatry consultat...  Read Full »
 

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours

Related Tags