You Might Be a Hypochondriac If You Show These Signs
Everyone has a friend who values their health more than just about anything else — or maybe you are that friend. In most cases, these individuals hit the gym often, eat nutritious foods, and talk about listening to their bodies. But for a hypochondriac, they listen a little too hard, panicking every minor ache could be the start of some horrendous disease. Every individual with this disorder is a bit different, but there are usually ways to tell someone is taking their health worries too far.
If you think you or someone you know might be a hypochondriac, keep an eye out for these signs.
1. Constantly scheduling doctor’s appointments and medical tests
Some people are natural worriers, but it turns to hypochondria when they start to plan their entire lives around appointments at the doctor’s office. Their belief that something is truly wrong often spurs them to return, even when their physician insists nothing is wrong. According to Psychology Today, it’s also incredibly common for these individuals to visit multiple doctors to get second, third, or more opinions. The idea is the first doctor clearly missed something, so the only way to track down the malady is to seek out a fresh set of eyes.
2. Assuming every minor malady is something much worse
Though many hypochondriacs will experience no symptoms at all, everyone gets a headache or upset stomach from time to time. Instead of waiting it out the way most folks do, those with extreme anxiety concerning their health are quick to assume the worst. The New York Times highlights this with the case of a woman who was too worried about the sensation of her heartbeat. According to the story, she was convinced a heart attack was on the way. For a hypochondriac a headache is never just a headache; a cough is never just a cough.
3. Spending hours researching symptoms online
Many well-respected medical websites provide comprehensive information about a long list of illnesses. Though it can be helpful to seek out appropriate care in some cases, it can also lead to excessive worry. Because there’s so much information, hypochondriacs can spend the better part of a day searching symptoms and coming up with their own diagnoses. It’s become so common, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports some people actually call it cyberchondria. Worse yet, much of the information floating around isn’t reputable.
Whether intentional or not, hypochondria often leads to an ever-shrinking social life. Doctor’s appointments mean you have to cancel plans. Some people become worried about germs or contracting specific diseases, so they stop going out. The Washington Post shares one story about a male who became so fearful of contracting HIV or AIDS from dirty railings or touching people that he became incredibly withdrawn.
5. Checking blood pressure as regularly as going to the bathroom
Monitoring blood pressure can be particularly problematic. ABC News explains anxiety releases adrenaline, which elevates both heart rate and blood pressure. If someone is excessively worried every time they check this vital, they may in fact find their blood pressure falls into the unhealthy range. This will only intensify the belief something is terribly wrong.
6. Avoiding a visit to the doctor at all costs
This clearly conflicts with the first sign we mentioned, but it’s equally as problematic. Some hypochondriacs are so convinced they’ll get a horrible diagnosis during a doctor visit that they stop going completely. The British Journal of Psychiatry says these individuals are often described as care-avoidant. The problem with this extreme approach is they may never find out if there truly is something wrong until it’s too late.
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