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Hypochondriasis

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Hypochondriasis is a condition that makes you fear you have a serious illness. One type of hypochondriasis is called illness anxiety disorder. The fear that you have an illness continues even after healthcare providers tell you that you do not. Because you are anxious about your health, you may go to many different providers. When providers tell you that you do not have a serious health problem, you may not believe them. The other type of hypochondriasis is called somatic symptom disorder. This type means you have signs or symptoms of an illness and fear it is a serious illness. The fear continues even after providers tell you it is not a serious illness. Hypochondriasis can make you feel frustrated and depressed.

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You think about hurting yourself or someone else.

Call your doctor or psychiatrist if:

  • You are not able to sleep well, or you are sleeping more than usual.
  • You cannot eat, or you are eating more than usual.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Medicines:

You may need any of the following:

  • Antianxiety medicine helps decrease anxiety so you feel calm and relaxed.
  • Antidepressants help decrease or prevent depression. It may take 3 weeks or more for some antidepressant medicines to start working.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Some medicines may make you drowsy

or less able to think clearly. Do not drive, sign legal papers, operate heavy equipment, or do other activities that need you to be alert. Never drink alcohol while you are taking medicines that make you feel drowsy or less alert.

Medicine monitoring:

Each time you meet with your healthcare providers, they will ask you how you are feeling. Healthcare providers will watch how you respond to your medicines. Tell healthcare providers about side effects or problems you may be having with your medicine. Sometimes the kind and amount of medicine may have to be changed.

Therapy:

Therapy can be done alone or in a group with other patients. It may also be done with members of your family or your significant other. You may have the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy helps to make you aware of how you see things. You may have trouble seeing the good in things around you. Then you are more likely to feel depressed, sad, or angry. Cognitive therapy teaches you to recognize how you see things and helps you to see them in a more positive way.
  • Distraction is a way of focusing your attention on something other than your health concerns. Playing cards or games, watching TV, or taking a walk are some ways to do this. Other ways are visiting with friends, painting, or writing down your feelings. These planned activities may help you manage your feelings.

Follow up with your doctor or psychiatrist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

For support and more information:

  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Office of Science Policy, Planning, and Communications
    6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6200, MSC 9663
    Bethesda , MD 20892-9663
    Phone: 1- 301 - 443-4513
    Phone: 1- 866 - 615-6464
    Web Address: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/
  • American Psychiatric Association
    1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1825
    Arlington , VA 22209
    Phone: 1- 703 - 907-7300
    Phone: 1- 888 - 357-7924
    Web Address: http://www.psych.org

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Hypochondriasis (Aftercare Instructions)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.