Health Magazine

Hypochondria (Hypochondriasis)

By Psychologicalmonroe @psychologicalmo
     Today, your friends at Psychological Monroe will explain Hypochondriasis, a disorder that is quite tricky to diagnose and usually brings a lot of distress to patients. Here we will discuss everything from what the disorder is, to how it is diagnosed and what causes it, hope you enjoy and remember to follow and tweet your ideas for the next posting @psychologicalmo. It is important to note however, I am not a psychologist, nor a professional - merely just a psychology student with a hobby, these postings are meant to be informative but should not be used for self diagnosis of any kind (If you keep reading, we'll touch on that aspect of hypochondriasis as well :).
First of all, what is Hypochondriasis? 

     Simply, Hypochondria, or hypochondriasis is a mental disorder. It is classified within the Somatoform category - which is a class of disorders that was formulated to accommodate the differential diagnosis of disorders characterized primarily by physical symptoms for which no demonstrable organic explanations or physical findings exist. Essentially, patients who suffer for hypochondriasis constantly worry about having a physical illness - this is what is known as health anxiety. The overall symptoms that patients describe can range from general complaints -- such as pain or tiredness, to concerns about normal body functions-- such as breathing or stomach noises. It is important to note that people who suffer from this illness are not faking or lying about their symptoms; they truly believe they are sick. 
Hypochondria (Hypochondriasis)
Now, what causes such a manifestation that would make a person believe that are constantly ill? 
     The exact cause of hypochondriasis unknown, however there are a wide range of factors that might be involved in the development of the disorder, including the following;                                  - A history of physical or sexual abuse                         - A poor ability to express emotions                         - A parent or close relative with the disorder -- to be more specific, a genetic component of this disorder has not been proven, there is actually significant evidence to suggest that there is no genetic component (through twin studies), however it is believed that this disordered is learned. a child might learn this behavior if a parent is overly concerned about disease and/or overreacts to even minor illnesses.                            How is the disorder diagnosed ? 
     To diagnose the disorder, psychologists, or other professionals within the mental health field will typically address the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) IV-TRThe Diagnosis criteria within the DSM for hypochondriasis includes the following:      - The patient has a preoccupying fear of having a serious disease.      - The preoccupation persists despite appropriate medical evaluation and reassurance.       - The belief is not delusional intensity and is not restricted to a concern about appearance.      - The preoccupation causes clinically significant distress or impairment       - The preoccupation lasts for at least six months      - The preoccupation is not explained better by another mood, anxiety, or somatoform disorder.         Traditionally, the last three are key for the diagnosis, the professional must see that the intrusive cognitions are significantly distressing and impairing the life of the patient. Also, if the patient does have hypochondriasis, this disorder is known to be chronic and symptoms and health anxiety, and even death anxiety will persist far beyond six months. -- it is important to note that psychologists and other professionals also rely on various screening tools, which can include questionnaires, indexes of some kind, scales, etc.  Who Does This Effect?      It has been estimated that between 0.8% and 8.5% of the United States adult population suffers from hypochondria. It has been indicated that approximately the same number of men and women suffer from the disorder and recent research has suggested that up to 10% of all visits to primary care physicians may be due to hypochondriacal fears. Hypochondriasis can begin at any age, however, it is most common in early adulthood. moreover, it has been indicated that international rates of the disorder are similar to those in the United States.    What is Cyberchondria?      It has been suggested that searching online for health information can fuel health anxiety, a phenomena that is known to be "cyberchondria". Essentially, it has been stated that any wheres from 30%-55% of internet users have used the internet to search for relevant health information for their own personal use. With sites such as "WebMD", is hypochondriasis more common within today's society than 20-30 years ago. If there is a jump within today's society perhaps differences can be noted within cross-cultural samples.      Thanks for reading! I found this topic to be quite fascinating to research and write about -- If you have any questions, ideas, or criticism, you can tweet us at @psychologicalmo or email us at [email protected] Sorry if there are any typos or mistakes within the body of the text, also I usually provide in-text citations as well. Mistakes and citations will be added very soon, currently it is midterm season for this undergrad and the pressure is on -- some might call this sloppy blog work, i call it dedicated student and enthusiast. --

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