What is hypochondria: development, features and treatment

Hypochondriacs are people who are periodically or constantly tormented by objectively unjustified anxiety for their health. For most skeptics, this condition causes irony, although in fact it indicates a mental disorder. Without the help of specialists, hypochondria causes dangerous obsessions and significantly complicates life.

Types of hypochondria

Psychiatrists distinguish several types of disorders, differing in severity and features of the course:

  • Obsessive. It occurs quite often, usually occurs periodically: after stress, as a result of misdiagnoses, due to character traits. Overly impressionable, nervous people suffer from it. The disorder is manifested by bouts of fear of getting sick or suspicions about the development of the disease. To calm down, sufferers undergo a lot of examinations, carefully monitor their well-being, and do their best to avoid everything that seems unhealthy to them: for example, walking in cold weather or rain. Critical thinking and sound reasoning are preserved in this form of hypochondria.
  • Super valuable. It consists in excessive care about the state of health, meticulous study of all kinds of symptoms. The form of the disorder is the most frequent, its victims are usually adherents of various ideologies of healthy lifestyle, go through and practice various methods of recovery, purification from toxins, become orthorexics. In the struggle for health, such people are estranged from their loved ones, they can lose their careers, and buy medicines with all their savings. The actions and thoughts of hypochondriacs as a whole remain logical, although they are not constructive enough.
  • Delusional. The most severe and difficult to correct form. It is often accompanied by other mental disorders, including schizophrenia, OCD, depression. Patients are unable to adequately perceive the surrounding reality, build illogical cause-and-effect relationships, are at the mercy of delusional fantasies. They see the danger to their health in literally everything, easily become victims of conspiracy theories, do not believe doctors, are busy searching for confirmations of imaginary incurable pathologies.

Hypochondria not only reduces the quality of life and deprives it of joy. Imaginary diseases take up all the time, leaving no opportunity to diagnose really developing pathologies. Thus, a hypochondriac who incessantly cleanses the liver and intestines with enemas from parasites can miss heart failure, bringing himself to a real heart attack.

Causes and symptoms of hypochondria

Among the factors that provoke excessive concern about their health and the search for non-existent diseases, there are endogenous (internal) and exogenous (environmental influence). The first are the features of the temperament and character of the individual. Hypochondriacs are hypochondriacs, naturally sensitive people, pedantic and sensitive to trifles. For many, these traits are inherited from their parents and become stronger with age. Some hidden or obvious mental disorders contribute to the formation of the disorder.

Exogenous causes include:

  • stress;
  • availability of medical and near-medical information: literary sources, mass media, Internet;
  • features of the profession: medical students often fall into hypochondria;
  • excessive parental care or lack of attention on their part in childhood.

Many experts believe that people’s incorrect interpretation of body signals leads to the disorder, when relatively harmless physical discomfort is perceived as the first symptom of a fatal pathology.

The behavior of all hypochondriacs is similar in many ways:

  • they directly and in a roundabout way hint to doctors, as well as to everyone around them about their deplorable health;
  • most of the time they analyze their well-being, read in books, discuss on forums signs of all kinds of diseases, usually the most severe and deadly;
  • they are terribly afraid of getting sick and dying, while their thoughts and speech are constantly about dangerous symptoms, all topics are reduced to them;
  • when asked to describe their pain, hypochondriacs receive blurry, changing answers every time, from adequate to the most improbable, often their ailments wander, have different localization;
  • the opinions of qualified specialists who do not share the fears of hypochondriacs are always wrong, the search for “real” doctors is their life’s work;
  • other interests: work, hobbies, home, relatives, recede into the background, reasoning looks selfish and fixated.

Hypochondria more often affects middle-aged and elderly people. Over time, it can come to naught under the influence of any circumstances or take the form of severe neuroses. Some patients develop depressive states and panic attacks under its influence. The existing real somatic diseases aggravate the situation, since their symptoms are interpreted incorrectly, they are taken as confirmation of the fantasies of hypochondriacs.

How to treat hypochondria

The therapy of this mental disorder is started after a full medical examination. Psychotherapists are engaged in the treatment of such patients. In severe cases, hypochondriacs require hospitalization. With the preservation of an adequate perception of reality and control of their actions, outpatient courses are sufficient.

During the classes, specialists use cognitive behavioral, rational, gestalt therapy and other techniques. It is not recommended for such patients to switch from doctor to doctor in order to avoid various manipulations. It is desirable to lead hypochondriacs to one doctor.

When pathology is combined with other mental and neurotic disorders, patients are prescribed tranquilizers, antidepressants, neuroleptics, nootropics, vegetative stabilizing agents. At the same time, hypochondriacs are recommended to buy and take medications for the correction of chronic somatic diseases.

A favorable prognosis can be counted on with uncomplicated disorder, preservation of critical thinking. The younger those suffering from hypochondria are, the more likely they are to overcome this condition.

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