Hypochondriasis

Natural ways of treating hypochondriasis and the underlying causes of hypochondriac disorder.

    treating hypochondriasis naturally

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    1. What is Hypochondriasis?
    2. Diagnosing Hypochondriasis
    3. What Causes Hypochondriasis?
    4. Help for Hypochondriasis
    5. More Information on Hypochondriasis

    What is Hypochondriasis?

    Hypochondriasis is described as the obsessive, persistent fear of having a serious medical condition. A person with hypochondriasis (referred to as a hypochondriac) exhibits the characteristics of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and is preoccupied with his or her physical health.

    Hypochondriacs tend to believe the worst possible scenario concerning their health. A person with Hypochondriasis might consult physician after physician and remain unsatisfied, even after numerous medical evaluations have declared a clean bill of health.

    People with this condition begin to distrust medical professionals, yet they keep searching for "the one" who will diagnose them with a fatal disease (ironically, this is what they fear most).

    This obsession with the belief that they are suffering from a serious illness impacts negatively on the lives of hypochondriacs and interferes with their normal functioning. They become completely distressed and anxious, and their daily lives and interpersonal relationships suffer deeply.

    This condition has often been linked to underlying emotional issues such as a preoccupation with death or a life-changing event. Hypochondriasis can occur at any age, but it tends to start during adolescence. Men and women are equally affected.

    Diagnosing Hypochondriasis

    A doctor will perform a physical examination based on the patient’s medical complaints and evaluate the medical history. If the doctor finds no physical reason for the symptoms and identifies the pattern of anxiety around illness, the patient may be referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist.

    The psychologist or psychiatrist will assess the patient and look for signs of severe anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behavior and other forms of mental disorders. Family members are also often consulted for collateral information.

    Symptoms of Hypochondriasis

    Some of the major symptoms of health anxiety disorder include:

    • Preoccupation with the notion that a life-threatening illness exists.
    • Preoccupation with a particular body system or an organ of the body.
    • Preoccupation with a particular disease or illness.
    • Belief that the doctor has made a mistake when medical diagnosis confirms that the person with Hypochondriasis is completely healthy.
    • History of "doctor hopping" from one specialist to the next (subconsciously they may have a hope that one will agree that the "so-called illness" is serious).
    • Depression, anxiety and nervousness.
    • Preoccupation with illness that hampers the individual’s ability and has a negative impact on their personal, work and social life.

    Physical symptoms symptoms of health anxiety disorder may also be experienced. These are often misinterpreted by hypochondriacs as symptoms of a more serious illness. They include:

    • Abdominal bloating
    • Cardiac awareness
    • Sweating

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    What Causes Hypochondriasis?

    There is no specific cause for hypochondriasis, but often times it can be linked to an underlying psychological pre-occupation or anxiety. It may also be related to the psychological effects of a serious medical condition the person may have had in the past.

    Possible Causes for Hypochondriases
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      The person may have a family history of a particular illness which may cause them to worry about becoming ill.
    • The person may have difficulty expressing emotion.
    • The person may be going through a major life change which could cause anxiety about health problems. Examples of major life changes include marriage, divorce, death of a loved one or changing jobs.
    • The person may have parents or relatives who focused too much on minor health conditions while growing up.
    • The person may have received attention when he or she was previously ill (subconsciously, this may lead to a repetition of the ill state in order to receive attention).

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    Help for Hypochondriasis

    Hypochondriasis is a very difficult disorder to treat. This is because people who suffer from this disorder refuse to believe that their symptoms are psychological rather than physiological. People with hypochondriasis can benefit from a combination of treatment options.

    Treatments for Hypochondriasis

    Supportive Care

    The person suffering from hypochondriasis has to be dealt with delicately because he or she feels anguish and distress. Maintaining a relationship with a health care professional who will be able to provide support and help to monitor symptoms is very important.

    A good relationship with a doctor or therapist will provide a supportive environment in which the trusted professional will be able to reassure the patient that there is no life-threatening disease, that tests and treatments are not required, but continued medical follow-up is beneficial.

    Drug Therapy

    People with hypochondriasis often suffer from associated mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, and may be prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs.

    As some of these drugs come with unwanted side effects and the potential for addiction, it is important to research both the benefits as well as the disadvantages before beginning treatment.

    Natural Remedies for Hypochondriasis

    People with hypochondriasis generally experience stress and anxiety and often have an underlying depression. Herbal ingredients such as Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) and Passion flower (Passiflora incarnate), can help to reduce immediate anxiety, while others like St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) and Oat straw (Avena sativa) can provide a more long-term solution to the underlying depression and strengthen the nervous system.

    A homeopath can also recommend a variety of homeopathic remedies for fear and anxiety such as Aconitum, Arsenicum album and Lycopodium, as well as biochemic tissue salts such as Mag. Phos and Kali phos.

    Counseling and Psychotherapy

    Many sufferers of hypochondriasis are resistant to psychotherapy. This is because symptoms of health anxiety disorder include the genuine belief that they are ill (or about to become ill) and feel frustrated when others suggest that the problem may be all in the mind.

    However, counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy may be effectively used as hypochondriasis treatments providing symptom relief while helping the individual deal with underlying issues. The individual should be encouraged to discuss any other problems or issues, and not focus solely on the symptoms. Seeking psychological help can benefit the individual in changing his or her approach to the condition.

    Alternative Treatment

    Complementary therapies such as behavioral-stress management, acupuncture, hypnosis, relaxation therapy and massage can all help to relieve stress and anxiety.

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    More Information on Hypochondriasis

    People with hypochondriasis need a lot of support and understanding. It is often a long-term condition that must be managed and controlled. Families and friends must also learn about available hypochondriasis treatments to cope with the disease when it is present in a friend or relative.

    Tips for Coping with Hypochondriasis
    • Speak openly to your family, friends and caregivers about your condition so that they will be able to empathize, understand and support you.
    • Learn and research as much as possible about hypochondriasis treatments and try to gain a clear understanding about this condition.
    • Join a support group where you will be able to relate to others with the same condition.
    • Develop an interest in a sport or hobby in order to learn how to focus outside of yourself and keep yourself busy.
    • Try and stop yourself from obsessively reading about illness and symptoms. When you find yourself beginning to focus on a symptom, distract yourself somehow by phoning a friend, going for a walk or listening to music.
    • Regular exercise, sufficient sleep and a healthy balanced diet will all go a long way towards building self esteem and a healthy body – as well as reducing anxiety and stress levels.

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