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Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Possible hypochondria


 gowner10 - Sat Aug 14, 2010 11:55 am

Hello I am 32 male, I workout almost daily and have never had any medical issues. Within the last year and a half, I have become completely obsessed in poking and proding around my body trying to see if there is something wrong. I am constantly on goolge, looking up symptoms and have convinced myself I have cancer. It had reached the point where I went to my GP 3 times the ER 2 times complaining of abdominal pain and a tight neck. I had sonograms and xrays done on both in 10/09 and all came back normal. Also had a CBC in 1/09 all fine. I have become so scared from looking up symptoms I am afraid to go to my doctor for a physical as I have convinced myself I have cancer. Finally had the courage to schedule the yearly physical next week. Last one was 6/09. The last two months have been the worst. I literally sit at my work desk and look up medical information on symptoms I was having. First it was testicular cancer as I had some pain down there. Could have been from doing new exercise routines. Pain has subsided. The latest is lymphoma because I sweat two nights in a row sleeping, not considering it is the middle of summer and the humidity was high. This constant thinking I am dying and depression is consuming my life. My wife is going nuts because I all I want to talk about is how I am dying. Does this sound like I need treatment for anxietydepression. Also could this be a form of male post pardom, I had a child 3 months ago. Please help me. I can't live like this anymore.
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Wed Aug 18, 2010 2:17 am

Hello gowner10,

Hypochondria is an excessive fear or anxiety about having a particular disease or condition. The person worries that minor symptoms mean major illness, and seeks repeated medical examinations or consultations, switching doctors frequently, or "doctor shopping." The person feels frustration with doctors or the medical care provided. The person has strained social relationships, obsessive health research, emotional distress, frequent checking of one's body for lumps, sores or other problems, frequently checks pulse, blood pressure and respiratory status, and is unable to be reassured by medical examinations. The person thinks they have a disease after reading or hearing about it, and they avoid anxiety-producing situations, such as being in a hospital. There are varying degrees of intensity of hypochondria; the hallmark is frequent medical visits. If someone suggests a psychological examination, it makes no sense to the person due to their conviction that it's a serious medical condition.

On the other hand, the same type of symptoms can be present in an anxiety reaction and/or depression. When a person has a long-lasting situation that creates anxiety, such as the pregnancy, birth, and new infant, it can become an acute situation such as you describe. There are many concerns involved with life experiences like the birth of a child, and the stress can become overwhelming as one worries about the financial concerns, as well as the health and safety of the mother and child, for example, and what would happen to the family if one parent is injured or dies. In that sense, it could have become a coincidental post-partum situation. When anxiety persists over time, it can evolve into Major Depression with anxiety, or a specific anxiety condition. Consulting a psychologist or psychiatrist will help clarify the issue. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications can help control the symptoms while helping the person recover. Regular exercise, such as a daily walk or jog if your physical health permits it, can help boost the neurohormones in the brain that have likely become depleted.

When a person's concerns about health or other life situations become disruptive to their overall functional status and relationships, it's time to do two things: first, have the complete physical examination and tell your doctor of your fears; second, consider having a psychological or psychiatric evalution to identify the source of the anxiety reaction.

Good luck, and I hope you're feeling better soon.

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