Illness anxiety disorder, more commonly known as hypochondriasis or morbidity, is a psychological condition in which an individual is very concerned about acquiring or developing a potentially serious illness. These behaviors tend to include: avoiding situations that they believe might cause them to get ill, constantly checking up on their body for any physical symptom or sign of illness, worrying excessively about health, and avoiding the things that most other people take for granted.
People who have this condition experience a variety of symptoms and problems with their health. They might become scared of traveling on airplanes or even attending hospital functions. Some of them may become so depressed over the thought of getting sick that they will resort to risky behavior in order to alleviate some of their discomfort. When left untreated, illness anxiety disorder can lead to severe depression, leaving the individual unable to function normally on a day to day basis.
Signs Or Symptoms Of Illness
One symptom of illness anxiety disorder is repeatedly checking up on themselves for signs or symptoms of illness. This can be seen in the way that they check their bodies for signs of illness or the way that they approach health issues. However, when they do find a symptom or sign of illness, they become over-anxious about having it, and start to worry about going through the experience of getting sick.
Another symptom of illness anxiety disorder is the preoccupation with symptoms. The individual may spend a lot of time thinking about what could be the symptoms of something that they already believe is a disease or illness when in fact it is not. They may be preoccupied with symptoms such as having colds or the flu. Instead of being able to concentrate on something more serious, they are preoccupied with these types of minor colds.
These types of symptoms are very common because it is easy to mistake one’s own body sensations for a sickness or disease when they are constantly distracted by these physical symptoms. Most of the time, people who have this type of condition actually do not even realize that it is happening to them because they are preoccupied with these preoccupations and thinking about these symptoms all the time.
Excessive Thoughts And Worries
Symptoms of illness anxiety disorder include having excessive thoughts and worries about having sickness and going through all of the different symptoms that go along with it. Because of this, the person will spend a great deal of time searching for medical tests, doctors, and medications that will make them better.
Unfortunately, when they do go through a medical test or doctor visit and the results are negative, they immediately start to worry and think about what could have been done differently. This is a very common problem among people who suffer from hypochondria. People who have a fear of the unknown are more susceptible to being labeled as hypochondriacs simply because of their overactive thinking and irrational fears.
Other risk factors that can lead to hypochondriac behavior include obesity, heart disease, diabetes, smoking, and stress. If you are overweight or obese, you may have an increased risk of having this disorder. In regards to diabetes, people who smoke may experience an increase in the severity of their illness anxiety disorder. Stress can increase the tension hormones in your body and can therefore also lead to experiencing a greater degree of body sensations.
Diagnosing Illness Anxiety Disorder
When it comes to diagnosing illness anxiety disorder, there are a number of different psychiatric disorders that can be misdiagnosed as the same symptoms. For example, the bipolar diagnosis can often lead to the incorrect conclusions as well. Bipolar disorders affect both your mind and your body functions in completely different ways. Therefore, it can be very difficult to diagnose this type of disorder correctly. Even though IAD is categorized as a mental disorder, many psychiatrists still do not consider it to be so.
It’s important to keep in mind that there is no such thing as “normal” when it comes to experiencing anxiety. You are likely to encounter all types of anxious feelings from time to time. Some people who worry excessively may even have a pre-existing condition or a disorder that causes them to worry excessively. If this is the case, you should be wary of seeking treatment for your condition.
Your doctor will likely advise you to avoid stimulants, such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, as they can intensify the symptoms that you experience from your illness anxiety disorder. However, if you feel that you would benefit from an increased level of stress relief, you should definitely discuss this with your psychiatrist.
Avoiding People With Negative Influence
Avoiding people who have a strong negative influence on your life is another common recommendation that those with IAD should follow. As unpleasant as it may seem, it is imperative that you avoid people who make you feel bad about yourself or make you feel guilty for things that you did not do. For example, if you engage in excessive worrying and feel guilty whenever you fail to meet a particular expectation, you should refrain from hanging out with people who constantly criticize you or tell you that you are being unreasonable.
In the past, it was common for victims of IAD to be harshly criticized by people in their social circles. By avoiding these people, you may be able to dramatically reduce your level of stress and anxiety.