Hypochondria. Symptoms, treatment and reasons
Hypochondria is a psychosomatic disorder, characterized by obtrusive attention to own health and revealing various imaginary symptoms of different diseases. The person, who suffers from hypochondriacal neurosis, always complains of not feeling quite well, worries about his health without objective reasons. But unlike a common malingerer, he sincerely believes in his illness and tells about it to other people. By that a hypochondriac can really feel pain in different parts of his body â€“ so his self-persuasion works.
The contemporary medicine and psychiatry diagnose hypochondria by the patients, who are pursued by fixed ideas concerning being ill with severe incurable diseases. Such people receive the appropriate information from special medical literature or the Internet and look for the symptoms and diseases described there to find them in very self. Hypochondriac fears are often concerned cardiovascular, digestive, reproductive or nervous systems. In the course of time autosuggestion leads to disfunction of the body, therefore such condition is really dangerous. Hypochondria occurs equally among women and men; the people of middle age (40-60 years) and elderly people suffer from it most of all.
Symptoms of hypochondria
Some way hypochondria can be added to dependences, because it has some typical features of them: obsession with one object, compulsive thoughts and distorted perception of reality. Hypochondria is unique mental disorder, when the person himself creates the subject of his addiction (symptoms of illness) from nothing. There are a number of signs, warning of hypochondria, which allow to distinguish a typical hypochondriac from a normal person, who thoroughly cares of his health:
- Often visits to doctors, repeating health screening;
- Fear of insignificant symptoms;
- Complaining of the doctors and their methods of treatment;
- Irrational fear of diseases;
- Difficulties in communication with other people;
- Constant talking of health problems, symptoms and medicine;
- Searching for any information concerning health and treatment;
- Apprehension of microbes and infection, maniacal intention to cleanness;
- Hot temper, nervousness, emotional instability;
- Irritability and anger at those, who try to convince the patient of real absence of illnesses.
In many cases hypochondria leads to increase in pain threshold, that’s why hypochondriacs can find the average headache as excruciating. People, suffering from hypochondriacal neurosis, can feel false numbness, pin and creeping sensations under the skin. As soon as the mental disorder progresses, the patients start suffering from synesthesia â€“ a feeling of total indisposition of all systems of the body, including such difficulties as staggering gait, heavy legs, feeling of unsteadiness and so on. Hypohondria attacks become aggravated after watching medical programmes or having heard some indistinct phrase of the doctor. At the final stage hypochondriacal neurosis can lead to schizophrenia or psychopathy.
Reasons of hypochondria
The exact reasons of hypochondria are not revealed due to variety of its manifestations. It was noticed, that sympathists and suspicious by their nature people are very subjected to this disorder. Also the provoking factors of forming hypochondria are considered the following:
- Serious diseases in childhood;
- Physical or psychical abuse;
- Seriously ill relatives or close friends;
- Original liability to hypochondria;
- Lack of self-confidence and liability to depressions;
- Meanness of emotions, ungratefulness, “strong stomach”, which can be either individual features of personality, or aftereffects of inappropriate upbringing.
Treatment for hypochondria
The treatment for hypochondria is aimed at supporting normal life activity of a patient even by remained symptoms, at changing behavioral stereotypes and way of thinking. The difficulty of such treatment consists in the fact that the patient doesn’t want to recognize inadequacy of his condition and mentality. Usually the relatives of hypochondriacs visit a doctor for help, and the most difficult stage of therapy â€“ is considered the first one. The patient resists the assistance of the specialist by all means, trying to find another one, who will confirm all his imaginary diseases.
Therefore it is important to establish a good contact with the patient first of all. The hypochondriac shouldn’t been dissuaded from his imaginary illness, but alongside with that his mental condition is to be corrected. The treatment for hypochondriacal neurosis includes also the assistance of both the psychotherapeutist and the patient’s relatives, otherwise the result won’t be effective.
Psychotherapy as a part of complex treatment forms a new positive thinking of the patient, free from fears and misgivings. Thanks to psychotherapeutical sessions the patient learns how to communicate with other people, not to worry over trifles and escape stressful situations. Hypochondriacs are very suggestible, and hypnosis in this case is often used too.
Medication therapy is used not always. Its usage can be justified in case of neurotic disorder. Hypochondria complicated by depression can be cured by antidepressants â€“ amitriptyline, trazodone, sertraline, as well as sedatives (diazepam). If the patient suffers from impulsive obsession, fluoxetine or clomipramine can be also prescribed. Hypochondria together with schizophrenia require strong neuroleptics and hospital service. Natural or folk remedies are also good in the treatment, as the patient has deal with placebo effect here.
The important condition of successful treatment for hypochondria includes total refusal of watching medical programmes, reading medical literature and visiting the websites in question.