Signs You May be a Hypochondriac

A hypochondriac is someone who lives with the fear that they have a serious, but undiagnosed medical condition, even though diagnostic tests show there is nothing wrong with them. Hypochondriacs experience extreme anxiety from the bodily responses most people take for granted. For example, they may be convinced that something as simple as a sneeze is the sign they have a horrible disease.

Hypochondria accounts for about five percent of outpatient medical care annually. More than 200,000 people are diagnosed with health anxiety (also known as illness anxiety disorder) each year.

Hypochondriac Symptoms

Hypochondria is a mental health disorder. It usually starts in early adulthood and may show up after the person or someone they know has gone through an illness or after they’ve lost someone to a serious medical condition. About two-thirds of hypochondriacs have a co-existing psychiatric disorder, such as panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or major depression. Hypochondria symptoms can vary, depending on factors such as stress, age, and whether the person is already an extreme worrier.

Hypochondriac symptoms may include:

·         Regularly checking themselves for any sign of illness

·         Fearing that anything from a runny nose to a gurgle in their gut is the sign of a serious illness

·         Making frequent visits to their doctor

·         Conversely, avoiding the doctor due to fear that the doctor will find they have a dreaded disease or serious illness

·         Talking excessively about their health

·         Spending a lot of time online, researching their symptoms

·         May focus on just one thing: a certain disease (example: cancer) or a certain body part (example: the lungs if they cough). Or, they may fear any disease or might become focused on a trending disease (example: during flu season, they may be convinced that a sniffle means they’re coming down with the flu)

·         Are unconvinced that their negative medical tests are correct, then worry that they have something undiagnosed and that no one will be able to find it and cure them

·         Avoiding people or places they fear may cause them to get sick

Health anxiety can actually have its own symptoms because it’s possible for the person to have stomachaches, dizziness, or pain as a result of their overwhelming anxiety. In fact, illness anxiety can take over a hypochondriac’s life to the point that worrying and living in fear are so stressful, the person can become debilitated.

You may be wondering what triggers hypochondria. Although there really isn’t an exact cause, we do know that people with illness anxiety are more likely to have a family member who is also a hypochondriac. The person with health anxiety may have gone through a serious illness and fear that their bad experience may be repeated. They may be going through major life stress or have had a serious illness during childhood. Or, they may already be suffering from a mental health condition and their hypochondria may be part of it.

Hypochondriac Treatment

Often, when a person repeatedly runs to their doctor at the first sign of a minor symptom, their doctor doesn’t take them seriously and may consider them to be a “difficult patient,” rather than a person who is honestly concerned about their health. Worse, some doctors will take advantage of the person’s fears and may run unnecessary tests just to appease the patient. In fact, it’s been estimated that more than $20 billion is spent annually on unnecessary procedures and examinations.

Self-help for hypochondria can include:

  • Learning stress management and relaxation techniques
  • Avoiding online searches for the possible meanings behind your symptoms
  • Focusing on outside activities such as a hobby you enjoy or volunteer work you feel passionate about
  • Avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs, which can increase anxiety
  • Working to recognize that the physical signs you experience are not a symptom of something ominous, but are actually normal bodily sensations
  • Setting up a schedule for regular appointments with your primary care doctor to discuss your health concerns. Work with them to set a realistic limit on medical tests and specialist referrals.

Professional treatments for hypochondria include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is very helpful for reducing patient fears. In this type of therapy, the person learns to recognize and understand the false beliefs that set off their anxiety. Research has shown that CBT successfully teaches hypochondriacs to identify what triggers their behavior and gives them coping skills to help them manage it.
  • Behavioral stress management or exposure therapy may be helpful
  • Psychotropic medications, such as anti-depressants, are sometimes used to treat health anxiety disorder

It is worth noting that many sufferers are unwilling to acknowledge the role anxiety plays in their symptoms. This makes them less likely to seek help from a mental health professional. Often, hypochondriacs are so resistant to the idea that they have anxiety that it takes intervention from loved ones to help them understand that they need assistance.

Get Help for Health Anxiety Disorder

Being a hypochondriac and experiencing health anxiety can be debilitating. It can severely affect the lives of the people who suffer from it.  The mental health professionals at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida are experienced in helping those with illness anxiety. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

32 Comments
  1. Reply
    Casimir

    I have all of the above and it definitely sucks. Last year it was something else and this year its another thing. Its very stressful. And stress is not what I’m trying to be. I even stopped doing my hobby and little cause I’m always in the mirror. Wake up and look at myself. It sucks. Comparing pictures of myself.

  2. Reply
    brooke liston

    what do you do if you cant get to sleep at night because you think your going to die in your sleep??

    • Reply
      Mra. Hypocondriac

      This one got to me. I’m doing that right now … it’s horrible!

    • Reply
      The Deliverer

      You should try smoking weed before bed not alot just a hit, itll put you right to sleep. Also some self reflection might help too. Just think if you did pass in your sleep, it would be a nice comfortable way to go. Or mabye watch a stand up comedian until you fall asleep might take your mind off things.

      • Reply
        Kristine

        There’s no one-treatment-fits all solution. You may like your way, but not everyone would. I’m allergic to cannabis. I ate one of my grandson’s muffins without knowing he put weed into it. Because it didn’t taste right to me, I didn’t eat the rest, and that was a good thing. What I did eat caused more than four hours of grand mal seizures with convulsive tremors, aphasia, loss of ability to use numbers, and resulted in an ambulance ride to the nearest ER, humiliation, and a huge hospital bill. That was no hypochondria. My grown daughter cried, because she thought I was going to die. The EMTs were concerned about it, also. Trying the wrong thing can result in worse problems than what it was supposed to solve.

    • Reply
      Mia

      I was like that after learning of a neighbor who died in his sleep. It took a long time to fall asleep as I would jump awake a lot. I finally realized that my chances of dying in my sleep were no greater than anyone else’s . I sleep comfortably now. Anxiety has many tricks. Fear of falling asleep is but one of them. You’ve been fine so far. All of that worrying for noth. You’re fine. Relax all of your muscles. That always helps me. ☺

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  6. Reply
    Brandi

    My child was very sick from the day she was born. Kidney failure then a transplant. She is 24 and I am just now realizing she is also a hypochondriac. Her kidney failure is real but all the other hospital visits have not been for an actual pain from an illness. I quit my job, have had to drop out of school and stay home. I am seriously angry! I have not said anything to her but i am taking her to a psychologist next week.

    • Reply
      Mia

      Your child is actually ill. Im sure she doesn’t want to be. A little compassion wouldn’t hurt. Might actually calm her down to know someone cares and is there for her.

  7. Reply
    Ilse Bader

    I am wondering if I may be. A hypochondriac or that I simply have a lousy M.D.,how can I find out? Recently my doctor removed a ” cyst” from my.ear,it was as round as a large marble.Cancer runs in my family,my sister died from it(56), all of my Aunts have had it,so I was very surprised when he didn’t do a biopsy.I felt like I had a horrendous infection after the surgical removal of the cyst on my Ear Lobe, tests came back as no infection,so ( for the first time ever) I checked what test he did,he did a test for swimmers ear,not a test on the discharge coming from my wound. I think he just writes me off as hypochondriac,however I felt REALLY sick after the surgery,serious I’ll.how can I find out if I have this condition

    • Reply
      Julie

      YIKES!! if I was you I would be SCREAMING at my doctor to check me for cancer, good luck!!

  8. Reply
    emily

    hey, I’m a teen and think I have hypochondria, but I’m not sure. Since I was very little (7-8-maybe younger) I’ve always thought that I’ve had lots of diseases. Usually I think that I have one (my main) disease for a good 3-4 months (sometimes almost a year) and then I think I have a bunch of other diseases but am less focused on them but still worried. Usually if I read books, watch movies, or a friend is talking about a disease, I will later (a few months after) think that I have that disease. Also one time when I was little I was watching little house in the prairie-when the girl had to get her appendix removed, the next day I was convinced I had to get mine removed because my stomach was hurting a lot. Another time I thought I had lucemia because my nose bleed a few times. I also am constantly looking up symptoms. I’m just wondering if it sounds like I have hypochondria or something else, because sometimes I think I have things that aren’t really necessarily diseases (like the appendix). Anyways let me know what you think, thanks:)

    • Reply
      Ella Claire

      Same here. My hypochondria also started in childhood

    • Reply
      TomTheHedgeHog

      Yes, I have Hypochondria, and your symptoms are identical. Now that you know this, one major thing that helps is not looking up symptoms. Trust me Emily.

  9. Reply
    Malayah Brown

    I’m pretty sure I’m a hypochondriac I am always getting nervous when my stomach hurts I over think and I don’t eat I am damn near about to pass out I am so nervous when it comes to stomach aches I clean the entire house and I can’t be around people it’s crazy I am 16 and right now I had stomach pain then I had a panic attack and I felt weak, shaky, faint, and all of the above I don’t know how to control it or get over it I want to become a NICU nurse practitioner and I just need a little guidance.

    • Reply
      Shari

      I was like that too. It will get better. Definitely go see a psychiatrist or psychologist to help you through this with cognitive behaviour therapy. Also try CBD drops.

  10. Reply
    lynda

    i think my mother is either a hypochondriac or has Munchhausen syndrome. I’ve been to numerous doctor’s with her. i know she has some health problems. But a little while later – hours or days, she twists what the doctor says when she’s posting online, or now she has to have surgery or has been diagnosed with a disease I didn’t hear the doctor say. I work full time & cannot run to the doctor with her for EVERY tiny little thing. She’s had lots of tests run & when she doesn’t get ‘results’ that she thinks is accurate, she calls the doctor a quack & finds another. She thinks i’m cold, insensitive & uncaring because i don’t drop everything & run when she has an ‘episode’. She even went to the ER for a splinter once. I’m at my wits end on what to do about her. She’s my mother and i lover her, but she’s ruining our relationship.

  11. Reply
    Mepragoo

    Even though I have valid concerns…it seems as though just worrying about it without taking action is turning me more and more into a full blown hypochondriac! I fit most of the criteria listed above! I have cancer in my family…grandmother and aunt died from it…other aunts currently being evaluated for suspicious lumps. I have lumps in the same areas for decades and I’ve just been worrying about it but not actually doing anything about it! Now that I’m losing weight and getting strange pains in the lumps and elsewhere…I’m telling myself I’m probably last stage but STILL I’m not going to the doctor to do a biopsy. I think I’m afraid that if I check them out -my fears would be confirmed and then I’ll have days to live or something. So I’m stuck not knowing for sure but constantly worrying silently.

  12. Reply
    Camryn

    I’m a very big hypochondriac, and I’m only 11. I always think I have cancer or a tumour or any kind of disease, and I worry about every single little pain, but I avoid the doctors. Help me please lol

    • Reply
      Shari

      Can you talk to any family members about this? Also therapy could really help you. 😀

  13. Reply
    Chrissy

    I have all of the above, and I specifically worry about my sexual health and unplanned pregnancy. At the moment I am overthinking everything and have booked an STD Screening (which is a good thing anyway, but I am extremely worried about the results). I am very responsible when it comes to sex and i always use condoms as well as the pill. My long term partner is STI free (he got a check) but Im still scared he’s mistaken/his tests weren’t done right. I started having nightmares and I struggle to sleep. I have anxiety and it sucks.

  14. Reply
    Izzy Bently

    I was wondering if I might have this. All of my close family members have anxiety issues so I wouldn’t be surprised. I wonder if I have it because many nights I worry that i’m going to have a heart attack, because I’m not super skinny and I’ve just always worried about that. I worry and worry about it until i’m certain it’s going to happen, and what if I don’t wake up in the morning…. I also worry that someone I know or I am going to get in a fatal car accident often times. I’ll just think it’s going to happen sometime and it could be today and I could die. So then i’m incredibly tense the entire car ride. Another thing that happens is i’ll be in a movie theater, or school, or about to go on a ride in a plane, and i’ll get worried that a shooter is going to come. Sometimes I make a plan in my head for were i’ll run if they do come. I just want to stop worrying about dying all the time. 🙁

    • Reply
      Leah

      Izzy, you sound exactly like me! I struggle with the same things all the time, every day. I constantly worry that I’m going to have a heart attack or that there’s something wrong with my heart. I rarely go to the movies anymore because I tend to have anxiety attacks when I do go. I’m also constantly afraid of being shot, either up close or by a stray bullet. And I don’t know if anyone else does this, but I’m constantly checking my pulse to make sure my heart is okay. I’ve been doing it for a couple years now and it has become a habit. It’s like I have to check my pulse or my heart is either going to stop beating or explode from beating too fast. I live in constant fear, and it’s beginning to seriously affect my life.

  15. Reply
    Sue

    I am married to a hypochondriac and I can tell you it’s not easy for me either. He is ALWAYS convinced he has something wrong with him. Even the past couple of days he has convinced himself he is having a heart attack because of a bit of indigestion. He has seen his doctor who did the usual tests to prove to him that he’s not having a heart attack and now he’s talking about getting a second opinion. This is no longer a marriage – his hypochondria is destroying what we once had. I can’t even talk to my doctor about how it’s affecting me because husband insists on attending all of my appointments with me. I can’t live like this much more….

  16. Reply
    Student

    I would also like to know if I have hypochondria. I am 19 and attend a very well known public university. I am currently a second year engineering student. I did good in school only because my elementary school was great and by the time I got to high school I no longer put any effort into school. I switched to a new middle school and cried my last day before switching because I would not see my friends again. I had to start over. I did pretty good in middle school. In high school I got into marijuana and tried lsd at 16. After that lsd experience I felt that I had had depression my whole life and finally it was lifted. I felt good for 9 months and became vegan but then i started smoking weed again. My last year of high school I did not try at all. I lost my position as valedictorian but still was ranked 3rd. Fast forward to first year at university, I did really bad. I felt and still feel that I haven’t actually learned anything. I felt dumb so I gave nootropics a try, but I would take so many and mix it with weed, I felt that I had induced psychosis upon myself. Everyone would look like animals to me and I felt that I couldn’t be near people because their energy would influence mine. Then I stopped all drugs and had a great quarter, I felt amazing. But then i went back home and my mentaliy went back to the one i had in my last year of high school. I ended up fracturing my wrist and then went back to school with my fitness dreams crushed. I was only talking to a soiopath at the time (I found out later via his actions) and I ended up withdrawing from that quarter. The next quarter came and I saw a psychiatrist in the beginning and they told me that they believe I’ve had major depression. They gave me wellbutrin but after 2 weeks I stopped taking it, because I was scared of the side effects. I had a good beginning that quarter but then it went downhill. Now I am in the next quarter, and even though I was ready to get my sh*t together I could not put myself to do work. This whole 2 years I have not been able to sit down and actually do work. It feels as though I am traumatized for some reason and I will do anything and everything to avoid work. This is bad because I love learning and I want to do good but there’s something that realy doesn’t want me to. And lately I have been feeeling so sick and like I have to throw up but then it goes away when I beath calmly. My period also keeps coming late. I feel so strongly how people’s slight judgments affect me and keep me from doing my work. Also, reading the above post I was reminded about how in high school I would read books such as The Bell Jar and afterwords felt like I was experiencing the exact same things as the protagonist and I actually did not finish reading the book in fear that it would do me harm… this is strange because my teacher had mentioned before assigning the novel, that it was banned in some places due to the content and possible issues that may arise. Anyways, this week I was feeling so out of place and was considering fully switching out of my major and taking up philosophy instead, but I really don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t believe in anxiety and feel that I can never accept that I have it even if it might be true.

  17. Reply
    Saniya

    I definitely have all these symptoms stated above. Im a Pharm-D student and studying about all the diseases makes me think about them all the time. I check myself constantly and get up at night with cold sweats, keep checking google for symptoms. It sucks and I feel its getting out of control, I dont know what to do.

  18. Reply
    Cris

    I have had this since I was a kid, my mom always told me there was “something wrong with me” now I can’t stop thinking there is something wrong, when there isn’t. I am 33 years old now, and I suffer the most from talking about my health. I try to keep a lid on it as much as possible, because I don’t want to cry wolf to my husband, if something really serious happens. Cancer runs in my family and that is what freaks me out the most, but, stress can actually cause cancer. I am considering getting back on antidepressants or taking xanax. Last time I took those was 17 years old, chucked them in the trash….it’s sad that I have lost almost all passion in life and depression and anxiety now control me. I have to do something.

    • Reply
      KERN FAMILY

      I’m feeling the same too

  19. Reply
    Kim

    My sister passed away from a drug overdose and ever since I have this deep fear of death. I keep thinking that she died young from something of her choice. But what if I die young, and it’s from a medical issue. I think I can find that medical issue and stop it from happening. Unfortunately, I have horrible anxiety. I have a head ache and I’m in fear of it being a brain aneurysm. I had horrible stomach pains and I’ve had multiple CT scans, colonoscopy, endoscopy and nothing was found. I’ve had ultrasounds done on my legs and my cervix. I’m only 24 years old! The last couple days I’ve had pains in my chest and a cramp in my leg. All I can think about is having a DVT that is going to kill me even though I am a very active person. I don’t know what to do and I don’t have much of a support system. Most people get tired of me when I start to talk about it. But I’m struggling and I don’t know what to do. I’m already on antidepressants and see a therapist but some days it doesnt seem to help.

  20. Reply
    Wes

    I’ve done all this i read something and go nuts reading stuff online and freaking out i been worried about liver damage glacoma side affects of seroquel im taking list goes on and on i need to stop reading stuff online and relax

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