Across the country, millions of people are plagued by a persistent fear that they are suffering, or will suffer, from a disease or other serious medical condition. This is known as health anxiety disorder, or hypochondria. Every year, as many as 14 percent of patients who are examined for health problems are actually experiencing hypochondria. Sufferers of this disorder tend to feel very real physical symptoms, such as:
Fortunately, when these people visit a doctor with their concerns, tests reveal that there is nothing wrong. Unfortunately, as a result, they’re usually told the symptoms are imagined. Doctors don’t take them seriously and often consider them to be “difficult patients” rather than genuinely concerned individuals. On the other hand, some doctors are more likely to run unnecessary tests just to appease the patient. In fact, more than $20 billion a year is spent on unnecessary procedures and examinations. This can have the adverse effect of increasing the patient’s anxiety since it can provoke their concern while still not producing results.
People who are extreme worriers are more likely to develop health anxiety disorder. The fear that arises with this disorder can be paralyzing. To make things worse, about two-thirds of hypochondriacs suffer from a co-existing psychiatric disorder, such as major depression or panic disorder.
Treatments for health anxiety disorder can include:
- Sessions with a mental health professional to assist with the stress associated with the disorder.
- Regular doctor visits with a trusted physician. If the visits occur regularly rather than on an as-needed basis the patient has a better chance of distinguishing between the seriousness of the symptoms they experience.
- Working to recognize that the physical signs each person experiences are not a symptom of something sinister and are, instead, their mind making their normal bodily sensations seem more threatening than they actually are.
If you or someone you know is suffering from health anxiety disorder it is important to seek help immediately. Health anxiety is a debilitating condition that can severely affect the lives of the people who suffer from it. Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida specialize in helping those who are fearful that they may have a serious medical condition. Take the first step toward getting help by calling 561-496-1094 or by emailing Dr. Rosen and The Center today.