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What is Hypochondriasis? Print E-mail
Written by Jessica Smith   
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Hypochondriasis is an abnormal fear of having a serious medical condition. This concern persists even though medical exams rule out any actual illness.

What is going on in the body?

People who have this condition feel very anxious. They suffer from physical symptoms even though there is no physical illness present. Individuals with this condition continue to believe they are seriously ill even when the healthcare provider tells them they are well.

What are the causes and risks of the disease?
This condition occurs in both men and women. It is not clear what causes the problem. This condition may occur more often in people who:
# were sick or had sick family members during childhood
# were victims of child abuse
# have various other psychological disorders
# abuse drugs or alcohol

What are the treatments for the disease?

A person with this disease has real symptoms even if there is no underlying illness. The first goal of treatment is to reduce these symptoms. A healthcare provider may continue to see the person to treat their symptoms. Counseling for the person and the family is essential. People with this condition have a hard time accepting that they do not have a serious physical illness. Medications such as tranquilizers may help the person cope with feelings of anxiety. Medications may also be used to treat any depression.

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Tranquilizers and other medications all have potential side effects, including drowsiness. Alcohol must be avoided while taking tranquilizers. Usually, the greatest risk to the person with this condition is having surgery or other unnecessary treatments. Time and money can be wasted on unneeded visits to healthcare providers.

What happens after treatment for the disease?

This condition does not respond well to treatment. Most people with hypochondriasis will always believe that they have a serious disease. They may go from one healthcare provider to another to try to get help for their symptoms.

How is the disease monitored?

Both a primary healthcare provider and a mental health professional usually monitor the disease. The provider will continue to treat the symptoms that the person has. The mental health professional will provide counseling for the person and the family. Regular follow-up visits can help people deal with symptoms.


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