(Also Known As: Hypocondriasis, Hypochondriac, Hypocondriac, Somatoform, Obsessive Compulsive, Malingering, Hypochondriasis Dsm)
(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)
What is Hypochondriasis?
Hypochondriasis belongs to the ranks of the somatoform disorders, a group of mental illnesses that was created to include differential diagnosis of disorders that have physical symptoms with no clear organic findings. According to the DSM-IV, the symptoms are characterized by the absence of voluntary control, thus eliminating malingering and factitious disorders from the group. Other disorders included in somatoform disorder category are: somatization Disorder, pain disorder, undifferentiated somatoform disorder, conversion disorder, and BDD 1
Hypochondriasis is defined as the excessive fear of suffering from a serious disease. The fears being allayed by the patient are not removed despite medical examination ruling out the evidence of disease. Although hypochondriacs are aware that their fears are unrealistic, this fact of realization is not enough to lessen their anxiety. 2
While the DSM-IV-TR categorizes it as a somatoform disorder, some experts believe that hypochondriacs have identical features with individuals suffering from obsessive-compulsive or panic disorders and are more appropriately ranked with anxiety disorders.
The worries of a hypochondriac may be based on the likelihood of a single illness but often include several conditions. The fear of the patient may change from time to time as the individual discovers new symptoms or becomes aware of an unfamiliar disease. The fear of the individual is a reaction to a minor physical abnormality such as fatigue, muscle pain, a slight cough, or a small sore. Hypochondriacs may also see normal feelings as symptoms of a disease. The extent of the fear may increase as the amount of stress increases.
An individual suffering from hypochondriasis regularly consults a physician. Because their fears are not yet allayed, despite being advised that there is nothing wrong with them, and would most likely refer their condition to another doctor. Although not suffering from physical disability, hypochondriacs will most likely take frequent sick leaves from their jobs and become annoying due to their persistent complaints about their condition. In the end, they become ineffective with their daily functioning.
Could You Have Hypochondriasis?