Hypochondriacal syndrome is an excessive concern for one's health, in particular, groundless fears about an allegedly existing or imminently threatening serious illness. In most cases, this disorder has no physical manifestations, but every sensation and slightest signs of indisposition are perceived by a person as a signal of trouble, even if after a thorough medical examination the doctors convince him otherwise.
If the patient is objectively at risk, this circumstance can lead to intense experiences up to a depressive state. A person will worry excessively about every sensation associated with a potentially serious serious illness, taking ordinary reactions of the body for warning signals about the danger. Excessive anxiety leads to severe stress, which, in turn, can destroy the patient's normal life.
Hypochondriacal syndrome, the symptoms of which can vary depending on many circumstances, is a chronic condition and often worsens with time. Its intensity increases either with age or during especially stressful periods and situations for a person. Science knows only two methods of combating the disease - it is psychological help (psychotherapy) and medication.
Symptoms of hypochondria can be combined under a general description. This is a constant reflection on the high probability of the disease, based on normal physical sensations (for example, bubbling sounds in the abdominal cavity) or minor symptoms (including cases of small skin rashes). Hypochondriacal syndrome also manifests itself by the following symptoms:
- obsessive thoughts about suffering or infection with a serious illness, about the development of pathologies;
- anxiety about any bodily sensations or minor symptoms allegedly indicative of a deadly disease;
- easily excitable anxiety about the state of their health;
- distrust of the results of the examinations and doctors who state that your health is in order;
- excessive anxiety about a particular disease or the development of pathology only because it was detected in several relatives;
- anxiety caused by thinking about possible illnesses and interfering with normal living and working;
- frequent examinations of your body for signs of malaise;
- regular visits to the doctor to increase confidence in their health condition, or, on the contrary, avoidance of medical care for fear of identifying a deadly disease;
- avoiding people, public places or activities from the unwillingness to endanger their health;
- constant discussion of their health and possible ailments;
- frequent use of the Internet to search for symptoms, causes and descriptions of potential diseases.
When to see a doctor
Hypochondriacal syndrome, whose treatment is begun too late, can develop into real health problems. In addition, if you are suspected of a number of experienced symptoms, you should consult a specialist - it is possible that the signs of malaise and indeed indicate the development of pathology. This does not mean, however, that you foresaw the disease: an accurate diagnosis, identify the causes of the disease and prescribe an adequate treatment can only be a doctor.
The exact cause of hypochondria remains unclear, but scientists agree that the factors listed below play a significant role in the development of the disorder:
- Beliefs. The patient either does not understand the meaning of the physical signals of the organism, or does not understand illnesses, or both are observed simultaneously. As a result, a person comes to the conclusion that all the sensations felt by him are symptoms of terrible diseases, and seeks evidence for false beliefs.
- A family. The astheno-hypochondriacal syndrome, meaning anxiety about the state of its blood vessels and heart, is most often diagnosed in those who have been accustomed to a similar anxiety from their parents since childhood. Sometimes adults are too concerned about the health of the child - this circumstance also leaves an imprint on the formation of the psyche.
- Past experience. If as a child you have suffered a serious illness, in the present normal physiological reactions of the body can generate phobias.
The hypochondria usually begins in 18-30 years and worsens with age. Elderly patients, as a rule, are most afraid of losing their memory.
You are at risk of developing hypochondria if one or more of the following factors are present:
- severe stress in the current life period;
- the threat of a serious illness that is not really dangerous;
- suffering from insults and beatings in childhood;
- a serious illness suffered in childhood, or a serious illness in one of the parents;
- type of personality, prone to concern;
- excessive hobby study of sites dedicated to health.
Depressive-hypochondriacal syndrome is the most severe case of concern. It can lead to real problems in real life, among which:
- quarrels and disputes with family members and loved ones who do not approve of excessive attention to potential symptoms of diseases;
- violations of normal working conditions or frequent omissions of working days;
- psychological problems in following a normal way of life in a domestic setting;
- financial difficulties due to too frequent medical consultations and surveys;
- simultaneous development of another psychological disorder, including personality disorders.
To make an accurate diagnosis, you should consult a specialist. He, most likely, will make an initial medical examination and, if necessary, will appoint additional examinations. The doctor will also determine whether your anxiety is the true hypochondria or whether it has firm ground. Perhaps you will be referred to a psychiatrist.
- assess your psychological state on the basis of a story about the symptoms, stresses experienced, family history, fears and concerns, problems in your personal life and other factors that affect the quality of your life;
- will ask you to fill out a questionnaire or a form of psychological self-assessment;
- whether you use alcoholic beverages or narcotic substances.
Hypochondriacal syndrome as such is not a disease, but it is characterized by specific symptoms that can lead to serious complications in real life. That is why doctors prescribe treatment in order to ease the intensity of the symptoms and give you the opportunity to properly perform their household and family functions. Psychotherapy, in particular, cognitive behavioral therapy, can significantly help in the treatment of disorders such as anxiety-hypochondriacal syndrome. In some cases, medication is required.
Since physical sensations are often associated with psychological stress and emotional anxiety, psychotherapy is recognized as an effective method of combating hypochondria. In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy encourages the patient to develop skills of independent opposition to the syndrome. Psychologists work both with groups of patients, and individually.
- self-identification of fears and false beliefs about the presence of a serious illness;
- the study of alternative methods of perception of the physiological reactions of one's body due to a change in the negative way of thinking;
- more in-depth awareness of the mechanism of the impact of fears and anxieties on personality and behavior;
- change of subconscious reaction to physical sensations and manifestations of minor symptoms;
- to comprehend the skills of combating anxiety and stress;
- reducing the number of missed activities avoided due to fear of harming one's health;
- getting rid of the bad habit of constantly inspecting your body for signs of illness, as well as from the artificial necessity to consult regularly with doctors;
- increase the overall quality of life, activity at home, at work, in personal life and social situations;
- treatment of other psychological disorders, most often - depression.
If you have diagnosed such types of disorders as depressive or asthenic-hypochondriacal syndrome, treatment can consist of other types of psychotherapy.
Antidepressants, in particular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) - "Fluoxetine", "Sertralin", "Paroxetine", - can help in the therapy of serious psychological pathologies, including hypochondriacelennostepatic syndrome. Often, doctors recommend taking other medications aimed at fighting anxiety. For example, reversible inhibitors of monoamine oxidase type A (OIMA-A) - Pirlindol, Moclobemide, Ademethionine.
It is necessary to consult a specialist about the choice of medicines and possible side effects or risks.
Doctors still have not reached agreement on the most effective preventive measures, but the general recommendations can be summarized as follows:
- If you often have an anxious condition, seek professional psychological help as soon as possible so that the symptoms do not deteriorate and the quality of your life does not decrease.
- Learn to be aware of when you are under stress and how this affects your body. Regularly practice stress management and relaxation techniques.
- Follow the treatment plan agreed with the doctor to prevent relapse of the disorder or worsening of the symptoms. Despite the fact that the hypochondriac syndrome is recognized as a chronic condition, there is always the possibility to get rid of its manifestations for a long time.