From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history

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. 2.0 2.1 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.