Health Anxiety (Hypochondriasis)
Health Anxiety or Hypochondriasis usually involves a person fearing that they have a serious disease or illness. This is usually based on their mis-interpretation of actual or perceived bodily signs or symptoms even after a thorough medical evaluation has not identified any medical condition that accounts for the person's concerns about having a disease or for the physical signs or symptoms. Therefore the fear of having a disease persists in spite of medical reassurance. The person is often able to acknowledge the possibility that he or she may be exaggerating the extent of the disease they fear they have, or that there may be no disease at all. This preoccupation with bodily symptoms causes a lot of distress and impacts on the persons ability to function in their lives.
Health anxiety is usually characterized by Symptoms of anxiety such as;
Repeated checking of the body for symptoms;
Avoidance of certain activities that are thought of as risky such as strenuous physical exertions.
A person with Health Anxiety may avoid media information about illness. They may also try and thought stop their thoughts about illness.
People can also engage in reassurance seeking which can involve, constant checking of symptoms on the internet, repeated visits to the Doctor, asking family members for reassurance about symptoms.
Health Anxiety is extremely distressing and can cause excessive pre occupation and high levels of anxiety and distress which impacts on the persons quality of life.