People with hypochondria develop an overwhelming fear of illnesses. It is an exaggerated fear of the illness in most cases, and often can be based on non-existent symptoms.
We all have hypochondriac tendencies. When reading about an illness and considering the symptoms, it is easy to think “Oh my god, I’m tired… and I’m irritable… is my heartbeat supposed to sound like that?! …I MUST HAVE BLACKFAN DIAMOND ANAEMIA!” (A disease that affects only 600-700 people worldwide)
It is easy to claim to be “such a hypochondriac” when we have some minor physical symptom and consider it to be a sign of a serious illness. If the fear of the illness lasts for more than 6 months, then the chances are you may be a sufferer of hypochondria. For actual sufferers, it is a very real condition. It is categorised as a mental disorder, affecting both men and women. Simply put, hypochondria is a belief that physical symptoms are signs of a serious illness, even when there is no medical evidence to support the presence of an illness.
A principle symptom of hypochondria is the misdiagnosis of any slight ache of pain, which to them must be the sign of a major disease. It is an extreme case of believing the worst, and usually cannot be dissuaded by contrary expert opinion.
Another sign of hypochondria is frequent visits to the doctor, showcasing their intense focus on their physical health. The need for information on diseases and illnesses becomes obsessive. If a doctor diagnoses the hypochondriac and the diagnoses does not match their own belief and fear, then they are likely to ignore the doctor and will try to find their own diagnosis of the perceived illness.
Hypochondria is a chronic disorder; unless psychological factors or mood and anxiety disorders are treated, it can last for years.