Me, my brain and hypochondria: is fear of illness a problem or a curious blessing? - Deepstash

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Hypochondria

Hypochondria is a psychological disorder in which there is excessive worry about having a serious illness. Behavior patterns for Hypochondria include excessive washing of hands, disinfecting wounds, and frequent doctor visits. This can lead to a constant cycle of fear, worry and anxiety.

This condition is increasingly common and is intensified due to easy access to the internet for checking symptoms (WebMD, for instance).

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Causes of Hypochondria

Causes of illness-related anxiety can be psychological, or due to existing mental health issues like depression, which can even be hereditary.

Sensational news reporting of the media (like we see today) is also a cause of health-related anxiety. This can lead to symptoms of common ailments (like muscle ache due to working out) being identified by the mind as relating to some acute and deadly disease.

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Hypochondria and Mental Disorders

  • In the 17th and 18th centuries, hypochondria was considered a form of madness that arose from an internal imbalance. People suffering from mental illnesses were mostly sent to asylums. 
  • In the Late 19th century, Sigmund Freud considered it a byproduct of instinctual drives coupled with repressed desires.
  • Nowadays, it is considered a condition from a combination of neurochemistry, genetics and external influence.

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Treatment For Hypochondria

As the definition of what is a mental illness keeps changing, treatment of conditions like Hypochondria also keeps varying from time to time.

Some psychiatrists provide anti-depressants, while others suggest CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) which is essentially a ‘correction’ of unhealthy behavioral patterns.

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False Dichotomy

The subjective nature of hypochondria and the many variables in today’s complex world makes this problem difficult to fix. 

Maybe mental illnesses are not to be cured in a traditional way, but something to be aware of, while enduring the uncertainty.

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