The Life of a Hypochondriac


Image via Chicago Tribune

Priscilla Solorio, Writer

What is a Hypochondriac? The English Oxford dictionary defines Hypochondria as, “a condition in which somebody worries so much about the possibility that they are or may become ill that it badly affects their life.” Hypochondria is an anxiety disorder where you over analysis small symptoms or even non-existent symptoms due to fear of serious health problems.

When you are a Hypochondriac you are overly concerned about your health, you often have large impatience for something to be wrong with you or to figure out what is. You are also majorly hyper-aware of yourself and how you feel, which then any small symptom is exaggerated on a large and unnecessary scale. Often those symptoms aren’t really there but are able to trigger anxiety symptoms such as shortness of breath, increase heart rate, fatigue, headache, dizziness, and stomachache. Through the eyes of a Hypochondriac, every headache is a brain tumor, every stomach ache is appendicitis, a sunburn is confused for skin cancer, dizziness is anemia, and a fast heartbeat is high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, type one and two diabetes all at once. Due to this Hypochondria can additionally change and cause issues in your eating habits whether it’s overcooking every food to prevent salmonella or limiting salt to not cause a heart attack. The disorder can change many things about your everyday life aside from just a one to a two-hour trip to the doctor’s office.

Going to the doctor, hospital, and the emergency room must be the funniest part as you sit trying to explain to the doctor why it is that you made an appointment on your lovely Friday Night to get your blood tested for tetanus already having had your tetanus shot, and only one-third of a push pin having punctured your fingertip while you get looked at like you’re crazy. Of course, the test the doctor insisted was unnecessary came back negative and you go home while your brain awaits another minor incident to occur for you to then repeat the cycle.

Hypochondria affects about 0.1% of all Americans, that’s 1.6 million people in the US alone. Although Hypochondria used to be an official diagnosis, it was changed to Somatic Symptom Disorder (SSD) and Illness Anxiety Disorder (IAD), no longer categorized with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Typically, hypochondria is treated with anti-depressants such as Prozac and Luvox, or anti-anxiety medication. On top of that, people often go to therapy for their disorders. Getting diagnosed as well can often help people by giving them a sense of reassurance that it’s all in their head, and it’s not necessary to be hyperaware, although many people don’t want to hear that all they see wrong with them isn’t real and are persistent due to fear, it often does help. Aside from medication and therapy, there is no real cure for Somatic Symptom Disorder or Illness Anxiety Disorder the two conditions can only be treated.