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Do you think that Hypochondria can be applied to thinking you have mental illnesses as well?

By Anonymous March 2, 2009 - 3:01pm
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I recently obsessed about getting a stomach virus that my wife and son had, I worried none stop and cleaned after they touched anything, I would call friends to reassure how long the virus lasted and so on and so forth, I own a body shop, so after the virus issue, I had a problem at the shop where a customer was trying to sue me although unsuccessful, I stressed majorly over this incident, since then I have been thinking that I have a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disoder, panic attacks, as so on. I have also been so consumed with worrying that I find it difficult to manage at times, when I occupy my mind I tend to be ok, but any little thing will bring about the worry. Also here latlely I find most of my time being spent on the internet researching all these illnesses, can any of this be linked to hypochondria? Thanx for any input.

April 18, 2009 - 1:49pm

Anon, I agree with Virginia, this is a really interesting question.

We are living in a time when, regarding our own health care, we really must be our own advocates. We are told to listen to our bodies, use our intuition, and even research things on the Internet on reputable sites. We are trained to ask our doctors questions, and get a second opinion. We are encouraged to trust our own instincts, and told that we are the only one that truly knows our own body.

So, how does a person know if their intuition is off, if they are dealing with hypochondria instead of an actual illness? It's sort of a which-came-first, the symptoms or the thought about conditions that could cause them?

Are you dealing with particular symptoms that you are concerned about? Can we help you research something -- a condition, a disorder -- that you believe might be affecting you? Or have you or someone close to you been told that you're a hypochondriac? Can you tell us a little more about what makes you ask this question?

March 3, 2009 - 9:58am

Interesting question! There is so much evidence in medicine today that demonstrates the power of our thinking process. The brain is one of the most puzzling organs but it is the study of the mind that continues to amaze scientists. Hypocondria is defined as "fear of having a serious illness and continues thinking he is seriously ill despite appropriate medical evaluations and reassurances that his health is fine."

It is not uncommon for people with hypochondria to focus on one particular organ, such as the lungs, or just one disease, such as cancer. The brain is an organ as well, so it is very possible that a hypocondriac person may also fear mental illness. But I think the behavior of a hypocondriac already assumes some "real" mental condition: fear, obsessive compulsive, anxiety, panic disorder, etc.

In a recent article in medicalnewstoday.com this is what it said:

"A large proportion of hypochondria suffers also suffer from some psychiatric disorder. Over 60% of hypochondria patients also suffer from major depression, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder. A sufferer from some psychiatric disorder is thought to also suffer from hypochondria when his preoccupation with illness is not explained by the disorder.

I believe that our thoughts are very powerful and we can create symptoms that appear real. You have probably heard of the placebo effect. This is very real and it is derived from a strong believe within. So real symptoms could also be created by the mind, including those conditions in the mental illness category.

If you tell yourself you suffer of panic attacks, you are probably more suceptible to getting a panic attack than someone wbo does not think about it. If you think you suffer bi-polar disorder and are convinced of that, I would not be surprised that the condition would manifest as well.

Interesting! Thanks for the question.

March 2, 2009 - 10:34pm
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