Hypochondriasis disorder can affect people of all ages. However, Toddlers, i.e., 3−5 years of age, and Children, i.e., 6−13 years of age, are affected by this disorder very rarely. Hypochondriasis disorder is most common among Teenagers, i.e., 14−18 years of age, Young adults, i.e., 19−40 years of age, Adults, i.e., 41−60 years of age, and Seniors, i.e., 60+ years of age. This disorder only affects an estimated 1−2% of the population.

What is Hypochondriasis?

Hypochondriasis is a kind of psychological disorder. It is defined as the high level of care and attention to a present illness or health status. Patients facing this disorder are also known as valetudinarians in public. This disorder mainly involves misinterpreting usual physical symptoms as a serious illness. It is also called the presence of excessive worry about a constituted diagnosis. Hypochondriasis is considered a treatable disease. There are two types of illness anxiety disorder − Care seeking, i.e., spending huge time taking advice from several doctors for the health status, and Care avoidant, i.e., Avoiding doctors thinking that they cannot identify their symptoms properly, which leads them toward more anxiety.

Symptoms of Hypochondriasis

People with Hypochondriasis disorder have a continuous fear of being seriously ill. Some people with this disorder may have been diagnosed with physical illness. However, due to this kind of disorder, they feel that their conditions are more severe than it is. Symptoms of Hypochondriasis disorder include −

  • The tendency to avoid people and places is to fear catching an illness.

  • Researching continuously regarding diseases and symptoms.

  • Overstate the symptoms and their severity; for example, a cough becomes a sign of lung cancer.

  • Personal health−related anxiety

  • Obsession with the normal functioning of the body, like heart rate.

  • Discussing health status and symptoms with others.

  • Continuously check for illness symptoms, like following up with blood pressure, temperature, and blood sugar level.

  • Seeking reassurance from close once about the symptoms they are facing and status of health.

  • Uneasiness with healthy functions of the body like sweating or gas.

Causes of Hypochondriasis

Healthcare professionals do not exactly know why some people face Hypochondriasis disorder. However, they suggest some basic factors that may cause this disorder. Those are −

  • Beliefs − People have a hard time allowing unpredictability over uncomfortable body sensations. This may lead an individual to think that all the sensations in the body are profound, then they start searching for proof to ensure that they have some severe disease.

  • Family − This disorder may take place due to family. Suppose the family members or parents have health-related anxiety about themselves or their children's health.

  • Experience − If people have experienced any serious illness in childhood that can cause every physical sensation to frighten him/her.

Diagnosis of Hypochondriasis

Healthcare professionals may suggest several physical exams and tests diagnose Hypochondriasis. Doctors can identify the medical conditions and recommend the necessary treatment from those test results by limiting lab testing, imagining, and referrals to specialists. Sometimes healthcare providers may refer to a mental health professional to diagnose the disorder if no physical problems are found. They may suggest −

  • Conducting a psychological evaluation to discuss the symptoms, stress situations, family history, fears, and the processes by which anxiety affects their life.

  • Filling up a questionnaire related to psychological self−assessment

  • Asking about the use of alcohol, drugs, and other substance

  • Understanding whether this disorder is better elucidated by other types of mental disorders such as somatic symptom disorder or anxiety disorder.

Treatment of Hypochondriasis

The main aim of the treatment of Hypochondriasis is to help an individual to manage health anxiety and improve the ability to function in regular life. Psychotherapy and several medications can help in treating Hypochondriasis disorder.


Physical sensations can be related to emotional distress and anxiety-related health. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy, can be an effective treatment for curing this disorder. Through this therapy, an individual can gain knowledge to manage anxiety related to health and find distinct patterns to manage worries other than excessive medical testing or avoidance of medical care. Psychotherapy can help in −

  • Recognizing fear and beliefs about having serious medical issues.

  • Learning different ways of viewing body sensations by working to change unhelpful thoughts.

  • Making aware of how that worry affects them and their behavior.

  • Changing the pattern of responding to the body's sensations and symptoms.

  • Learning to adjust to anxiety and stress.

  • Reducing avoidance of situations and functioning due to physical sensations.

  • Reducing behaviors of frequently checking symptoms of illness in the body and seeking reassurance continuously.

  • Improving regular functioning at home, at work, in relationships, and in social situations.

  • Mentioning other mental disorders.

Other therapies like behavioral stress management and exposure therapy may also be helpful.


Medicines like antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can help treat health-related anxieties. Medications that help in treating moods and anxiety disorders can also help in curing Hypochondriasis disorder sometime.


From the above discussion, it can be concluded that Hypochondriasis is a psychological disorder affecting people of all ages. This disorder leads an individual towards excessive worries regarding their health, i.e., thinking of a basic illness as a serious one, and they think it is not curable. This disorder has several symptoms like frequent checkups, blood tests, web surfing, and many more. Hypochondriasis mainly occurs due to family, i.e., the presence of a member who is facing this disorder and has previously experienced a serious illness. There is no particular treatment present for curing this disorder. However, sometimes several medicines and therapies like psychotherapy performed by mental health professionals can help treat this disorder.

Updated on: 06-Apr-2023


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