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Hypochondriasis

AMBULATORY CARE:

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.

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.

How hypochondriasis is treated or managed:

You may need to see your healthcare provider several times a month. Tell him or her if you are depressed.

  • Medicines may be given to help with anxiety and depression.
  • 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. The following are common types of therapy:
    • 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.

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.

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 (Ambulatory Care)

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Further information

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