Hypochondria is also known as somatomorphic disorder. It is a psychological clinical situation where the person believes to be sick of a very serious pathology or he worries excessively about his health believing he will get sick.
This concern of the hypochondriac patient makes him interpret any sign or symptom, real or imaginary, as a sign of severity. The state of health itself becomes an obsession.
To varying degrees, hypochondria affects up to ten percent of the population. And it is more frequent in family environments where one or more members suffer from it. While there is no genetic transmission of hypochondria, it can be said that there are family ecosystems more aware of the disease than others.
Historically, the definition of hypochondria dates back to ancient Greece. Already the students of Hippocrates, considered the first doctor, described her in her treatises. Often, they linked her to states of melancholy and sadness.
This association with depressive aspects is not wrong. Nor is it when it is associated with states of anxiety and anguish. Although they are not the same, syndromes can occur in combination.
It is also important to differentiate hypochondria from pathophobia. In pathophobia, the person is afraid of having a serious illness, which is why he avoids medical consultations and complementary methods at all costs. He suspects the results will be tragic.
The hypochondriac, on the other hand, increases his consultations and studies because he is convinced that his illness, whatever it may be, exists and nobody finds it. Tour different professionals in search of a diagnosis that, in general, never receives.
How hypochondria is composed
Although hypochondria is not a form of anxiety disorder, patients who suffer from it are anxious people.
The personality of the hypochondria patient has certain features and components that are common:
- Obsession with the body: The hypochondriac constantly checks your body for signs of serious diseases.
- Concern about health news: These people check news related to health issues looking for the link between that news and their own situations, imagining that any outbreak, epidemic or increase in the prevalence of a disease includes them.
- Verbalization of fictitious symptoms: In the hypochondria, the topic of conversation always deals with diseases, studies to be carried out, the possibility of becoming ill and medical consequences.
- Anxiety state: While hypochondria is not a form of anxiety disorder, it is really about anxious people. They live in a state of possible anticipation of the severity of a disease they could suffer.
- Excessive medical visits: The hypochondriac performs many consultations with health professionals and tends to repeatedly change the attending physician. What you are looking for is someone who diagnoses what has already been self-diagnosed.
- Loss of social life: By spinning his life on the disease, the hypochondriac patient separates himself from social activities and from family and friend circles. This has a negative impact because they create barriers to the approach and accompaniment of your obsession.
Read on: Generalized anxiety disorder
Risk factors of hypochondria
Like all conditions, it is known that there are factors that make a person more predisposing to be hypochondriacal. These are the so-called risk factors. It does not mean that their presence ensures the existence of hypochondria, but they favor it.
One of the risk factors is Having had the bad experience of medical errors about oneself about close relatives. There remains, then, the feeling that the doctor can always make a mistake and let a serious illness pass.
As we mentioned, the family environment is also a risk factor. There are hypochondriacal families where, as a child, the person receives messages about the severity of diseases and symptoms. They are also families that react excessively to certain signs of common diseases.
Both the family environment and the surrounding social environment can make people mistaken beliefs about health. You may think that what is not is serious.
Keep discovering: Toxic families: disorders that can cause
The treatment of hypochondria is mainly based on cognitive behavioral therapies of the patient. Thus, it is intended that the person can end the anguish he feels around diseases.
To date, for hypochondria, The treatments that have been most effective are cognitive behavioral therapies of psychology. Of course, provided they are performed by trained professionals in that area.
The goal of therapy is for the person to be able to free themselves from the anguish caused by the obsession with the disease, and at the same time lose obsessive practices. You have to achieve a daily routine where not everything revolves around the possibility of getting sick.
In general, cognitive behavioral therapies propose to the patient tasks to be performed. Among them is the limitation to medical consultations and the fact that you try not to talk about diseases.
The treatment can move forward if there is collaboration of the person's intimate circle. Otherwise, it is very difficult to advance in the objectives. The accompaniment of close beings is practically the key to the success of the treatment.