Andrew, my good friend, is hypochondriac. He has paid more visits to a doctor than I have watched football matches. And that is saying something because I do love my live football. At first I thought he was just careful about his health. Later I revised my view. I figured he had more money than sense, so a doctor’s office was his best way of spending his money. Andrew is a typical hypochondriac, a domestic accident with a kitchen utensil would see him rushing to the hospital to be tested for everything that could possibly go wrong.
If you are reading this and thinking my friend’s case is kind of mild compared to yours. And as far as you are concerned, there is nothing wrong with seeing a doctor at a drop of a hat, then congratulations, you are officially a hypochondriac. Though, to be fair, congratulations is not in order because we are talking about a serious psychological issue here. Also known as hypochondriasis, it is an illness anxiety disorder which results in the inaccurate perception that every mild body pain or ache must be a symptom of something more serious.
Suffering from this mental illness is not fun especially to friends and family. People who are close to them all have different stories of woes to recant. Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for it, the best is to be prescribed anti-anxiety drugs or anti-depressants. However there are some effective ways of managing the problem and reducing its severity. Here are some ways of coping or managing the problem
Don’t Go Online to Look Up Symptoms
There are limitless resources online for medical problems. Sites like WebMD and health-related Google search are just two places people head to to check on health-related problems. But a hypochondriac checking up their symptoms online is sure step to ramping up the anxiety level. So many diseases share the same symptoms. Even ordinary flu can have similar symptoms with the more serious typhoid fever. Trust a hypochondriac to pick on the worst possible disease as the cause of their symptoms.
So your best best as a hypochondriac is never to look up your symptoms online.
Never Change Doctors
Hypochondriacs hate hearing the phrase, ‘ There is nothing wrong with you.’ Doctors have the thankless job of assuring them nothing is wrong. But trust Hypochondriacs to seek a second, third or fourth opinion from different doctors until, they hear what they want to hear: which is, ‘You are very sick and suffering from…..’ insert any debilitating illness there. Anyone works for them.
As a hypochondriac, trust your doctor when they tell you nothing is wrong with you. Repeatedly disturbing your doctor or changing doctors is a sure path towards ingesting a lot of placebo or at worst being wrongly diagnosed.
The food we eat can cause a lot of discomfort in us. Avoiding fatty foods, foods with high sugar levels and oily foods would significantly reduce the aches and pains we feel. For instance, I binged on cake last night. Now, my bowel is very loose. A hypochondriac would see that loose bowel as a sign of something serious and begin to worry excessively.
As a hypochondriac, vigorous exercise is not advisable because your own way of dealing with the aches and pains that are part of the exercise regime is a visit to your long suffering doctor. Your best bet is to take up Yoga or any gentle stress-reliving exercise. Yoga is a relatively stress-free meditative sort of work out. It can help you better handle those minor aches and pains without having to rush to a doctor.
I know this is hard for a hypochondriac. But your best bet is to ignore the minor pains. Just as I intend to ignore this stomach pain which I got from eating too much cake.
Here is the thing: what works for one person might not work for another. The trick is to find what you are comfortable with as you try to manage your problem. Any further personal insights on how to manage hypochondriasis are highly welcome.