Hypochondria

Close
310.896.5568
hi@mylatherapy.com
Mon-Fri 8:00a - 9:00p | Sat-Sun 8:00a - 7:00p
Hypochondria

Hypochondria

ABOUT HYPOCHONDRIA THERAPY

One of the most frustrating things about suffering from Hypochondria or Illness Anxiety Disorder is the feeling that you know your fears of illness are irrational but they still seem to dominate your thoughts. Non-stop worrying about illnesses and frequent visits to the doctor can be exhausting, time-consuming and sometimes debilitating.

You may find yourself continuously searching the Internet for information, demanding lab tests from irritated doctors, and talking relentlessly about your fears of being sick. Although people suffering from Hypochondria or Illness Anxiety Disorder may think that Internet research or lab tests will reassure them, it’s never enough. The key is to break the cycle of worrying and checking and to deal with the root causes of Hypochondria.

In my experience, Illness Anxiety Disorder is often the result of unprocessed grief and trauma. As we help guide you into dealing with the underlying causes of your hypochondria, we can help free you from the endless cycle of worry and fear so you can get your life back.

Your pain is an opportunity for you to learn about yourself.

Gary Zukav

SYMPTOMS OF ILLNESS ANXIETY DISORDER (FORMERLY HYPOCHONDRIA)

The DSM-5 no longer includes hypochondriasis (hypochondria) as a diagnosis. Instead, people may be classified under Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders” as having Illness anxiety disorder, especially if there are no physical symptoms or they’re mild.

The DSM-5 emphasizes these points in the diagnosis of Illness Anxiety Disorder (signs and symptoms):

  • Preoccupation with having or acquiring/getting a serious illness.
  • Somatic/physical symptoms are not present; if present, are only mild in intensity.
  • If another medical condition is present or there is a high risk for developing a medical condition (e.g., strong family history), the preoccupation is clearly excessive or disproportionate [Excessive anxiety signals a much greater threat than actually exists and results in severe distress that can be disabling].
  • There is a high level of anxiety about health, and then you are easily alarmed about personal health status [You believe that normal body sensations (such as a noisy stomach) or minor symptoms (such as a minor rash) are signs of severe illness, even though a thorough medical exam doesn’t reveal a serious medical condition].
  • You perform excessive health-related behaviors (e.g., as repeatedly checking your body for signs of illness) or exhibit maladaptive avoidance (e.g., avoiding doctors appointments and hospitals).
  • Your illness preoccupation has been present/lasted for at least six months, even though the specific illness you fear may change during that time.
  • Your illness preoccupation is not better explained by another mental disorder, such as somatic symptom disorder, panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Specified by “care-seeking type” (medical care, including physician visits or undergoing tests and procedures, is frequently used) or “care-avoidant type” (medical care is rarely used).

FACTORS AND CAUSES OF HYPOCHONDRIA AND ILLNESS ANXIETY DISORDER

  • Environmental (Beliefs) – You may not understand the meaning of body sensations or you have a poor understanding of diseases or both. This could lead you to think that all body sensations are serious, so you search for evidence to confirm that you have a serious disease. There is also a belief that excessive worrying can frustrate others so emotions are often repressed or you have a poor ability to express them. In other words, you may be more likely to have health anxiety if you had parents who worried too much about their own health or your health (relationship or family problems occur because excessive worrying can frustrate others). Also, work-related performance problems or excessive absences increase.
  • Psychological (Past Negative Experiences & Temperament) – You may have had experience with serious illness, bullying, or abuse in childhood so physical sensations are frightening to you. You may have also had a general time of major life stress or loss. This is including the amount and severity of trauma you’ve gone through since early childhood. Personality aspects, often called your temperament (your risk may increase if you’re more sensitive, more inhibited or more negative than the norm) can also be affected. For example, children who are shy, timid, withdrawn or restrained when facing new situations or people may be at greater risk.
  • Other Complications – Problems functioning in daily life, possibly even resulting in disability; Financial problems due to too many health care visits; Having another mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression.

HYPOCHONDRIA AND ILLNESS ANXIETY DISORDER TREATMENT

This disorder is a long-term condition that can fluctuate in severity, happening at any time, but usually beginning in early or middle adulthood and increasing with age or during times of stress. In many cases, symptoms can recur. Providing reassurance isn’t always helpful for someone with significant anxiety; it can make things worse. Treatment of this disorder can be effective and most often includes a combination of:

  • Supportive care – Because symptoms can be related to health problems, it’s important to be in regular/good contact with and be evaluated by a healthcare provider. If symptoms of these disorders are present, your doctor will begin an evaluation by performing a complete medical history and physical exam. Although there are no lab tests to specifically diagnose these disorders, the doctor may use various tests to rule out physical illness as the cause of the symptoms. If no physical illness is found, you may be referred to a mental health professional, who is specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses.
  • Psychotherapy – Mental health professionals (such as psychotherapists, social workers, or professional counselors) use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for these disorders. People with these disorders are not faking or lying about their symptoms; they truly believe they are sick. For that reason, psychotherapy can be most effective in learning coping skills, altering the thinking and behavior that lead/contribute to the symptoms. Therapy also can help the person learn better ways to deal with stress, and improve his or her social and work functioning. The focus and goal of treatment are on learning to manage/control/improve symptoms, and on minimizing functional problems associated with the disorder to return to daily functioning in their lives. Unfortunately, most people with these disorders deny there are any mental or emotional problems, making them fairly resistant to psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common approach used to treat people with these disorders.
  • Medications – Antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs are sometimes used if a person with these disorders also has a mood or anxiety disorder.

SELF-CARE FOR HYPOCHONDRIA AND ILLNESS ANXIETY DISORDER

  • Stick to your treatment plan to help prevent relapses or worsening of symptoms – Take medications as directed. Keep therapy appointments. Consistency can make a big difference, especially when it comes to taking your medication. Don’t give up if treatment doesn’t work quickly/remind yourself it takes time. Facing your fears can be difficult, but treatment can help you feel like you’re not a hostage to your symptoms.
  • Self-care – Get enough rest/sleep, eat healthy, and try to be physically active/exercise every day. Avoid substances even caffeine, as it can make anxiety worse. Don’t forget to celebrate successes.
  • Reach out – Consider joining a support group to connect with others facing the same problems and who may understand you. Participate in activities by staying involved in work, social and family activities. Socialize (Don’t let worries isolate you from loved ones or enjoyable activities. Social interaction and caring relationships can lessen your worries).
  • Break the cycle and learn to recognize when you are stressed and how this affects your body – This knowledge can help you understand what you’re feeling, and then you can develop coping strategies to help you respond effectively. Mindfulness strategies may be helpful in learning how to tolerate anxiety and reduce avoidance behaviors; Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation or yoga, may help cope with stress while reducing anxiety symptoms.
  • Avoid searching the Internet for possible diseases – The vast amount of health information that may or may not be related to your situation can cause confusion and anxiety. If you have symptoms that concern you, talk to your doctor at your next scheduled appointment.
  • Take action – Work with your mental health provider. Work with your doctor or mental health provider to determine a regular schedule for visits to discuss your concerns and build a trusting relationship. Discuss setting reasonable limits on tests, evaluations and specialist referrals. Avoid seeking advice from multiple doctors or emergency room visits that can make your care harder to coordinate and may subject you to duplicate testing. With your provider’s help, find different ways to manage your worries other than excessive medical testing or avoidance of medical care.

RESOURCES

Hypochondria Therapist

More Specialties

Abuse & Trauma

When we experience trauma, sometimes we begin to feel like our pain is who we are. It can…

Learn moreLearn more

Addiction & Recovery

Addiction and substance abuse can be ways to avoid facing the painful aspects of life…

Learn moreLearn more

Aging Therapy

Aging is inevitable. We age with grace or not. We can either buy into the fantasy and perpetuate the myth that we…

Learn moreLearn more

Anger & Stress Management

Anger is a normal, healthy emotion. We have the power to understand it…

Learn moreLearn more

Anxiety

Group therapy can be a powerful way to heal; in fact, research has demonstrated that…

Learn moreLearn more

ASW & MFTI Supervision

It is human to struggle because let’s face it–life is tough. We can easily feel overwhelmed…

Learn moreLearn more

Autism

Autism is characterized by a wide range of conditions, including challenges in verbal and non-verbal…

Learn moreLearn more

BDSM & Kink Friendly Therapy

All of us with stigmatized identities face this question daily…

Learn moreLearn more

Bipolar Disorder

We all have ups and downs, but if your highs and lows seem more extreme than most people, you may want…

Learn moreLearn more

Borderline Personality Disorder

Living with Borderline Personality Disorder can often…

Learn moreLearn more

Buddhism & Mindfulness Therapy

Buddhism and psychology share in their central…

Learn moreLearn more

Career Counseling

Career counselors develop plans to improve their client’s current career and provide advice about entering…

Learn moreLearn more

Caregiving

Sometimes life demands that we have to care for those we love on an extended basis…

Learn moreLearn more

Child Therapy

Children have unique needs when it comes to counseling. At different ages, we pass through…

Learn moreLearn more

Codependency

Dating can be as intoxicating and exciting as it is painful and destructive. Often we find…

Learn moreLearn more

Couples Therapy

Love can be one of the most powerful and beautiful experiences life has to offer; but too…

Learn moreLearn more

Dating Coaching

Trying to find the right person can be a painful task. When we can’t seem to find a match…

Learn moreLearn more

Depression

Sadness is present in everyone’s life to some extent, but when it is accompanied by feeling hopeless…

Learn moreLearn more

Divorce & Blended Families

Bringing two families together can seem nearly impossible. Blended families, or stepfamilies,…

Learn moreLearn more

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence and abusive relationships can happen to anyone; they don’t discriminate…

Learn moreLearn more

Dual Diagnosis

At times, overcoming co-occurring disorders can feel impossible and isolating. Co-occurring disorders…

Learn moreLearn more

Eating Disorders

People are not defined by labels. An “Eating Disorder” is a part of you that is telling the rest…

Learn moreLearn more

Family Therapy

Even with all the love in the world, family is complicated. Often members of families have different…

Learn moreLearn more

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

It’s normal to feel anxious from time to time…

Learn moreLearn more

Grief, Loss, & Bereavement

Whether you’ve lost a parent, child, spouse spouse, friend, or beloved pet, all grief has…

Learn moreLearn more

Hypochondria

One of the most frustrating things about suffering from Hypochondria or Illness Anxiety Disorder is…

Learn moreLearn more

LGBTQ+ Therapy

All of us with stigmatized identities face this question daily: how much to accommodate society…

Learn moreLearn more

Life Transitions

Life transitions are always stressful, but sometimes we feel so overwhelmed by the changes ahead…

Learn moreLearn more

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

When you don’t feel in control of your own mind and…

Learn moreLearn more

Panic Disorder

If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know how terrifying and debilitating they can be…

Learn moreLearn more

Perinatal and Prenatal Therapy

Therapy can help you navigate the complexities of childbirth…

Learn moreLearn more

Phobias

One of the most frustrating aspects of phobias is that we know they’re irrational yet we still can’t…

Learn moreLearn more

Premarital Therapy

Relationships bring out our best and worst selves, our deepest hopes, and our deepest fears…

Learn moreLearn more

PTSD Therapy

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) develops after you have experienced or witnessed…

Learn moreLearn more

Rape & Sexual Assault

Recovery from rape or assault can seem like a never-ending battle. However painful and scary and…

Learn moreLearn more

Self-Harm and Self-Injury

Self-harm is about trauma, emotional dysregulation, and self-hatred. It can be grounding. It can feel like…

Learn moreLearn more

Social Anxiety

If you have a social anxiety disorder you may long for connection while at the same time feeling…

Learn moreLearn more

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can be a way of avoiding the painful aspects of life, whether fears about oneself…

Learn moreLearn more

Teen Therapy

Teenagers have unique needs when it comes to counseling. At different ages, we pass through distinct…

Learn moreLearn more

Therapy for Men

Our culture often has rigid expectations of masculinity which may stifle us from understanding who we really are…

Learn moreLearn more

Transgender

Are you considering transitioning? Do you need support navigating the process of coming out…

Learn moreLearn more

Young Adults Therapy

We live in a very different time than our parents did. Technology is changing our world so quickly…

Learn moreLearn more
Start Healing Today

Contact Us