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Hypochondria Essay

1188 words - 5 pages

Hypochondria or hypochondriasis, as it is sometimes called, is where an individual has an unrealistic fear of death due to physical or medical symptoms. These individuals often center their lives on their physical health concerns. For instance, a pain in the stomach to a “normal” person is just a pain in the stomach probably related to a pulled muscle or common stomach flu. To a person with hypochondriasis that pain is suddenly a possible indicator of some vicious form of cancer or disease. The word Hypochondria was created by the Greeks to describe illnesses or sickness in the upper abdomen. The break-down of hypochondria is “hypo”, which means below, and “chondros” meaning ...view middle of the document...

Somatic symptoms are physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, fatigue or anything that is not medically explained. All that being said, not everyone who is concerned about their everyday lumps and bumps is a hypochondriac.
Causes of hypochondriasis are not completely understood. Some have speculated that it is a result of parents that are overly concerned with their child’s health. In other words a parent who rushes their child to the Emergency Room for every stomachache, the child tends to grow up thinking the same thing, the worst case scenario. Some say that it can come from a form of OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, in which a person feels the need to perform a certain task in a specific manner or number of times. It is also said that people with hypochondriasis have a hard time expressing emotion. Hypochondriasis is known to occur equally in females and males. Some psychologists say that it can also come from a child being physically or sexually abused. However, that is not to say that every child that was ever abused is going to be a hypochondriac.
To be officially diagnosed with hypochondriasis, the individual must meet a certain criteria. The first is that the preoccupation of being sick or possibly being sick has to have lasted for at least 6 months. Next is having a debilitating fear of having serious illness that could lead to death in some cases. Another criterion is doing repeated medical test to reassure the patient that everything is okay and they still aren’t satisfied with the results. Furthermore, the patient’s anxiety must not be delusional. Lastly, the individual’s preoccupation with sickness must not just be part of another anxiety disorder like OCD or panic disorder. It is mostly up to the primary care physician to make the diagnosis. It can be hard for physicians to diagnosis this disorder because some patients are reluctant to confide in their doctor for fear of being ridiculed. Sometimes there is a general mistrust among hypochondriacs and their doctors because the individual may feel like the doctor is not taking them seriously and doing testing that the hypochondriac feels is necessary.
Treatment for hypochondria is limited; however it is very beneficial to have a supportive primary care physician to avoid excessive testing. This doctor must also be able to reassure the patient that they don’t have a disease after having the proper testing done. Some other treatment approaches include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is designed to help the patient understand that what they have is more of a fear of sickness than a real medical illness. With the CBT...

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