What is hypercondriac?
We live in a society associated with stressing and depressing life situations that occur while carrying out the daily activities such as personal or professional obligations. Often, such situations may cause minor illnesses such as a mild headache and physical pain. Sometimes, when these complications become more intense, a hypercondriac get’s a false beliefs and become consumed with fear, distress and convictions that very soon, a doctor will diagnose us with a severe disease. For instance, a minor physical symptom such as a mild headache that may have resulted from a stressing situation or activity may lead to excessive fear and worry; one may attribute a headache to a serious medical condition such as a brain tumor. Moreover, most individuals living with severe medical conditions tend to worry about their health conditions from time to time, which become overwhelmingly unbearable causing intensive distress; the fear may intensify, interfering with your activities of daily living.
Apparently, though such convictions and worries are a major component of modern life, physicians have become much more aware that indeed it is a medical condition. In fact, the condition is recognized by the classification of the World Health Organization’s system ICD-10; it is referred to as a hypercondriacal disorder, clinical hypercondraisis or just hypercondriac. An individual suffering from hypercondriacal disorder is a hypercondriac.
Hypercondriac or Hypochondriac?
Similarly, hypochondriac is another term used synonymously with hypercondriac; though they are used interchangeably, a minor distinction exists between them. While a hypercondriac is a condition or an individual who is convinced that they are always sick, a hypochondriac is an individual or a situation where one is in fear of getting sick or been diagnosed with an illness.
Essentially, hypochondria is a somatoform disorder preoccupation with a conviction that one has a serious illness or is in fear of having a serious disease; it is an anxiety disorder that is expressed as a sign of a severe physical illness, even when there is no medical evidence to support the presence of the symptoms or medical illness.
A hypochondriac becomes unduly ignited about any physiological symptoms they experience, irrespective of how minor and insignificant the symptom may be. They have absolute conviction that the condition is related to a physical health issue and not emotionally induced, according to a report from Georgetown University Medical Center.
Hypochondriac people trigger themselves
Many hypochondriac persons focus on a particular physical symptom as the triggering factor for their worrying health situation. For instance, a patient suffering from a mild headache may attribute the condition as been related to a physical reason, such as a brain tumor; a medical assurance from a doctor that the condition is as a result of an emotional situation such as stress does not provide any form of relief.
Recent medical studies published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders expounds that hypochondria exists in a situation where there are multiple or significant physical symptoms that occur inconsistently; essentially, despite the occurrence of the physical symptoms, medical test results show no sign of illness or injury. The publication denotes that, it can be a form a somatization disorder contributed by some psychological stressors such as anxiety and mood disorders, which become commonly expressed as physical symptoms. A person may suffer from pain and frustrations especially following multiple tests and evaluation procedures with no detectable illness.
Additionally, the hypochondriac condition may exist in a situation where a person does not experience any physical symptoms or when the symptoms are mild. Instead, a person experiences anxiety and fear of having or developing a serious disease. Those who get minor symptoms and normal body sensations get convictions that the signs would lead to severe illness; even after multiple tests and medical reassurance that no illnesses are detected, they are not reassured, and their obsessive worry persist.
Notably, hypochcondria is a chronic condition that tends to begin in early adulthood and often persist for a long time even after the acute stressors have been resolved. It is equally common in males and females. Clinical prevalence of anxiety disorder has shown that an estimate of up to 4 to 5 percent of patients may be hypochondriac. Noticeably, an estimated 75 to 85% of the patients suffer from anxiety, depression, pain disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Anxiety Is The Main Reason For Hypercondriac
In many hypercondriac persons, the common emotion is anxiety; one honestly and innocently believe that they are suffering from a severe disease with cancer usually been the leading disease concern. In other cases, some persons also experience depression. Besides, Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common hypercondriac condition characterized by unreasonable or unpleasant thoughts and anxiety (obsessions), which lead to repetitive behavior or mental act (compulsions); one feels that they need to accomplish the unpleasant thought to relieve the unpleasant feeling. Furthermore, when a hypochondriac suffers from a pain disorder, they experience a persistent pain that cannot be attributed to a physical condition or stimulant.
Interestingly, it’s always devastating for hypercondriac patients to admit they are suffering from a mental disorder, which is related to their emotional perception and not a physical condition. Take a look at this case study situation; Miss K is a 31 year-old woman who visits an emergency section suffering from abdominal pain. She reports that she has been experiencing chronic pain since her adolescence age. She has a long history of multiple abdominal surgeries; surprisingly, all these operations have failed to treat or lessen her grief. Her laboratory examination, medical results, critical signs, urinalysis, and chemistry profile are within the normal limits. Additionally, she has seen ten different doctors, each of whom assures her that she does not have any abdominal disease and that there is nothing to worry. Despite the reassurances, she won’t accept that. As a result, she is admitted back to her primary care physician. Overtime, the physician has been following her condition; finally, the physician confirms to her that she is suffering from a mental disorder; the disorder is causing a health anxiety, which is been expressed as a physical abdominal pain.
It is important to note that hypercondriac persons do not knowingly or willingly create these symptoms; neither is it a way of seeking attention from family members and friends by pretending to be sick. Rather, they are unable to control the symptoms.
If you like you can read more on What causes hypercondriac.
What is hypochondriac?
Being a hypochondriac means that you are too worried and anxious about your health. This condition is known as hypochondria (health anxiety) whereby which one worries so much about their health, that it causes them great distress and affects their day-to day life. A hypochondriac person believes that they have a severe or life-endangering sickness despite having no medically proven symptoms. Their symptoms are only in their minds. According to a hypochondriac person, these symptoms are real even if doctor’s diagnosis says otherwise.
One would believe that the usual body sensations or slight symptoms are signs of a serious illness. People with a medical condition are at a higher risk of being hypochondriac. A hypochondriac person with a medical condition may feel like they’re sicker that they really are. They may feel so overwhelmed that the body sensations associated with that certain medical condition feel like they are greater threats than they actually are. This extreme anxiety, rather than the physical symptom is what results to great distress.
Hypochondria fluctuates in severity depending on factors such as age and stress. It may be severe in old age and in people who are stressed a lot.
Kinds of Hypochondriasis
A hypochondriac person lies into either of these extremes.
1. Persistently seeking reassurance
One may become obsessive so much that they look up for information in the internet concerning their health status. They also book many appointments with the physician and usually have a lot of test conducted on them but no any medically proven symptoms are found.
2. Avoidance behavior
This is whereby the patient avoids medical TV programmes, physician’s appointment or anything else they think could trigger the anxiety. They may even avoid activities like the exercises that are thought to worsen the condition.
Regardless of the extreme end one falls into, professional help is needed to break the vicious circle of health anxiety.
Causes of Hypochondriac
The specific cause of this disorder is not yet clear, but these factors may contribute a lot.
Beliefs- the case could be that you do not understand what body sensations mean or you have little understanding of diseases, or perhaps both. This could make you think that all body sensations are symptoms of severe illnesses. You may therefore go finding information to confirm that you have a severe health problem.
Family- Having parents who are very much worried about your health or theirs may make you vulnerable to the disorder.
Earlier experience- Having had some serious diseases in childhood may make one so worried about their current health status.
Personality- If you are a worrier generally, you are at a higher risk of developing hypochondria. If you are the kind of a person who cannot handle their emotions and conflicts well, then you are vulnerable to being hypochondriac.
Mental health conditions such as stress and depression may put you at a higher risk of being hypochondriac.
Hypochondria vicious circle
This disorder can be a vicious circle. If you are the person who is constantly checks your body for any disease signs, you will finally find something. Often, it won’t be something serious. A rash could be a sign of an allergic substance, sweating could be due to anxiety but you could worry that these are signs of a severe condition. However, discovering this tends to result to more anxiety and makes you want to continue checking your body even more.
This may extend to wanting reassurance from physicians or even friends. You may get some comfort from this, but you can be sure it won’t last. It may reach a point where you even stop believing the reassurance and even want more of it to feel better. This worsens the symptoms in your head worsen.
This could therefore trigger physical symptoms and more worrying could worsen the situation. Excessive worrying may also cause panic attacks and depression in the long-run.
Symptoms of Hypochondria to Watch For
• Being too much worried over getting or having a severe illness.
• Worrying that usual body sensations are symptoms of severe health conditions.
• Over alarmed over your personal health status.
• Excessive worry over a certain medical condition or worrying that it may catch you because it has affected others in your family.
• Constantly checking your body to spot any signs of illnesses.
• Constantly going for medical appointments for reassurance.
• Avoiding places, people and activities for the fear of health risks or even avoiding medical care for the fear of being diagnosed with a certain illness.
• Looking up for information concerning diseases and possible causes in the internet.
Diagnosis of Hypochondria
If the above symptoms are noted in you, you will need a health care provider to evaluate them and ascertain that you are actually hypochondriac. It is important that you describe the symptoms accurately for accurate diagnosis. When did the symptoms start? How severe are they? How often do they occur?
Once the health care provider establishes that you’re suffering from hypochondria and there are no serious underlying physical causes for your symptoms, they should investigate further to find out whether you have problems such as anxiety disorder and depression which may have caused it or are worsening the symptoms.
If you are noticed to have such problems of depression and anxiety disorder, you are referred to a psychological therapist or prescribed some antidepressants. If it is not about depression, the doctor still needs to make you feel less worried- you therefore need some advice from him or even from a psychological therapist.
A hypochondriac person may benefit so much from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You will work with a therapist to establish your thoughts and emotions and how you cope up. After identifying this, your therapist guides you in changing behavior and thoughts that maintain health anxiety.
They keenly look at how you deal with symptoms and help you through in challenging them to encourage a more realistic and balanced view.
CBT may not work best for every hypochondriac person- some may require trauma-focused therapy while others may require a psychotherapy that addresses a certain psychological condition.
Hypochondriac people with mental conditions such as depression may find antidepressants helpful. For some, antidepressants may give better results than CBT. You could get a prescription directly from the health care provider, or he may refer you to a mental health care provider for treatment.
Treating symptoms with medication may not always be the answer however. It is also advisable that the benefits and potential side effects of taking the medicine are compared before settling for this option.
Your kind of lifestyle and self-care remedies may become handy in your treatment process. You could try relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation to reduce the anxiety. Involving yourself in social events, quitting substance and alcohol use with the help of a health care provider and avoiding searching for information in the internet may also help you very much in your recovery journey from being a hypochondriac.
If you like you can read more on What causes Hypochondria.