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Hypochondriasis or being a hypochondriac, now known as illness anxiety disorder, is a mental illness defined by excessive worry about having a serious undiagnosed physical illness.[1]

The old diagnosis of hypochondriasis was found to be very narrowly defined and stigmatizing, so it was replaced by Illness Anxiety Disorder (IAD) and Somatic Symptom Disorder (SSD).[2]

Signs and symptoms[edit | edit source]

  • Excessive and persistent health anxiety
  • Excessive anxiety about having or developing a serious illness
  • No signs or symptoms of illness are present, or any signs and symptoms are mild
  • The person is easily alarmed about their health
  • Illness preoccupation lasts at least 6 months
  • Symptoms significantly effect the person's functioning, which may include the impact of the cost of care-seeking behaviors
  • Symptoms are not better explained by another mental health condition, e.g. an anxiety disorder, OCD, or panic disorder

Care-seeking type[edit | edit source]

  • Medical care is frequently used, e.g. when no signs or symptoms of illness can be found
  • "Doctor shopping" - frequently seeing different doctors and not feeling any reassurance when doctors do not find serious illness
  • Requesting many multiple tests or investigations without medical justification
  • Excessive and repetitive checking for signs or symptoms of illness

Care-avoidant type[edit | edit source]

  • Medical care is rarely used, may include maladaptive avoidance of doctors and hospitals when care is needed
  • Excessive fears that medical tests or doctors will find a serious illness, resulting in avoiding care[3]

A mix of care-seeking and care-avoidance behaviors[edit | edit source]

  • This may also occur[2]

Treatment[edit | edit source]

ME/CFS[edit | edit source]

According to the Institute of Medicine, ME/CFS is a serious, chronic, and complex physical disease. It is not associated with increased rates of illness anxiety or unhelpful/problematic illness beliefs and behaviors.[4]

Notable articles[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. French, Jennifer H.; Hameed, Sajid (2021). Illness Anxiety Disorder. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. PMID 32119286.
  2. 2.02.1 Newby, Jill M.; Hobbs, Megan J.; Mahoney, Alison E.J.; Wong, Shiu (Kelvin); Andrews, Gavin (October 1, 2017). "DSM-5 illness anxiety disorder and somatic symptom disorder: Comorbidity, correlates, and overlap with DSM-IV hypochondriasis". Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 101: 31–37. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2017.07.010. ISSN 0022-3999.
  3. American Psychiatric Association, ed. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5 ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing. p. 315. ISBN 0890425574.
  4. Institute of Medicine (2015). Beyond Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Redefining an Illness. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/19012. ISBN 0309316898. PMID 25695122.

social security disability (SSD) - United States government disability benefits. Used for those who have previously paid tax and is not means tested. (Learn more: me-pedia.org)

somatic symptom disorder A psychiatric term to describe an alleged condition whereby a person's thoughts somehow cause physical symptoms. The actual existence of such a condition is highly controversial, due to a lack of scientific evidence. It is related to other psychiatric terms, such as "psychosomatic", "neurasthenia", and "hysteria". Older terms include "somatization", "somatoform disorder", and "conversion disorder". Such terms refer to a scientifically-unsupported theory that claims that a wide range of physical symptoms can be created by the human mind, a theory which has been criticized as "mind over matter" parapsychology, a pseudoscience.

American Psychiatric Association (APA) - The main professional organization of psychiatrists and trainee psychiatrists in the United States, and the largest psychiatric organization in the world. Not to be confused with the American Psychological Association (also APA).

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) - A psychiatric reference book published by the American Psychiatric Association, often referred to as "the psychiatrist's Bible". Although the most recent version (DSM-5) purports to be the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders, the editors of both previous versions of the manual have heavily criticized the current version due to the climate of secrecy that shrouded the development of the latest version. 69% of the people who worked on DSM-5 reported having ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Allen Frances, who headed the development of the previous version, warned of dangerous unintended consequences such as new false 'epidemics'. The British Psychological Society criticized DSM-5 diagnoses as "clearly based largely on social norms, with 'symptoms' that all rely on subjective judgements" and expressed a major concern that "clients and the general public are negatively affected by the continued and continuous medicalisation of their natural and normal responses to their experiences". A petition signed by over 13,000 mental health professionals stated that the lowered diagnostic thresholds in DSM-5, combined with entirely subjective criteria based on western social norms, would "lead to inappropriate medical treatment of vulnerable populations". The director of the US National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Thomas R. Insel, pointed out that the diagnoses in DSM-5 had no scientific validity whatsoever. (Learn more: www.scientificamerican.com)

The information provided at this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness.
From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history.