Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I have this close comrade who suffers from a lot of infirmity “according to him”. Headache, Body pains and more. Let me share his problem by means of making a short CASE STUDY…

Mr. W 23 years old, worries excessively about developing a rare disease. When he meets friends or converse to his relatives, he is constantly discussing how he feels and expresses concern that even the most minor irregularities in the functioning of his body are symptoms of underlying diseases. He is extremely concern about normal body functions such as breathing, ear sounds, pulse rate or stomach noises. He spends a good deal of time consulting doctors for a second opinion. All Laboratory tests resulted as negative. He has also been to many faith healers and was diagnosed with PEDRO PENDUKO like stuffs. ( barang, laman dagat, syokoy, serena and etc.. OMG! Forgive me!)

Without further doubt one thing comes into my mind Is he a HYPOCHONDRIAC?

What is hypochondriasis?

Hypochondriasis is a type of somatoform disorder, a mental illness in which a person has symptoms of a medical illness, but the symptoms cannot be fully explained by an actual physical disorder.

People with hypochondriasis are very worried about getting a disease or are certain they have a disease, even after medical tests show they do not. Further, these people often misinterpret minor health problems or normal body functions as symptoms of a serious disease. An example is a person who is sure that his or her headaches are caused by a brain tumor. The symptoms associated with hypochondriasis are not under the person’s voluntary control, and can cause great distress and/or can interfere with a person’s normal functioning.
Hypochondriasis can occur at any time of life, but most often begins in early adulthood. It appears to affect men and women equally.

What are the symptoms of hypochondriasis?

Most people with hypochondriasis—sometimes called hypochondriacs—are worried about having a physical illness. The symptoms they describe can range from general complaints—such as pain or tiredness—to concerns about normal body functions—such as breathing or stomach noises. People with hypochondriasis are not faking or lying about their symptoms; they truly believe they are sick.

Warning signs that a person might have hypochondriasis include the following:

The person has a history of going to many doctors. He or she might even "shop around" for a doctor who will agree that he or she has a serious illness.
The person recently experienced a loss or stressful event.
The person is overly concerned about a specific organ or body system, such as the heart or the digestive system.
The person’s symptoms or area of concern might shift or change.
A doctor’s reassurance does not calm the person’s fears. They believe the doctor is wrong or made a mistake.
The person might have had a serious illness as a child.
The person’s concern about illness interferes with his or her work, family, and social life.
The person might suffer from anxiety, nervousness, and/or depression.
What causes hypochondriasis?The exact cause of hypochondriasis is not known. Factors that might be involved in the development of the disorder include the following:
A history of physical or sexual abuse
A poor ability to express emotions
A parent or close relative with the disorder — Children might learn this behavior if a parent is overly concerned about disease and/or overreacts to even minor illnesses.
An inherited susceptibility for the disorder

How is hypochondriasis diagnosed?

Diagnosing hypochondriasis can be very difficult because people with the disorder are convinced their symptoms are caused by a medical illness.
When symptoms appear, the doctor will begin his or her evaluation with a complete medical history and physical examination. If the doctor finds no physical reason for the symptoms, he or she might refer the person to a psychiatrist or psychologist, health care professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. The psychiatrist or psychologist makes a diagnosis based on his or her assessment of the person’s attitude and behavior, and the fact that physical illness has been ruled out as the cause of the symptoms. The psychiatrist or psychologist might administer a personality assessment to confirm the diagnosis of hypochondriasis or somatoform disorder.

How is hypochondriasis treated?

A main goal of treatment is to help patients live and function as normally as possible, even if they continue to have symptoms. Treatment also aims to alter the thinking and behavior that leads to the symptoms.
As with other somatoform disorders, hypochondriasis can be very difficult to treat. This is due, in part, to the fact that people with this disorder refuse to believe their symptoms are the result of mental or emotional rather than physical causes.
Treatment for hypochondriasis most often includes a combination of the following options:
Supportive care — In most cases, the best course of action is for the person to stay in regular contact with a trusted health care provider. Within this doctor-patient relationship, the doctor can monitor the symptoms and stay alert to any changes that might signal a real medical illness. The doctor’s main approach is likely to focus on reassuring and supporting the person, and preventing unnecessary tests and treatments. It might be necessary, however, to treat some of the symptoms, such as severe pain.
Medicines — Antidepressant or anti-anxiety drugs are sometimes used if a person with hypochondriasis also has a mood disorder or anxiety disorder.
Psychotherapy — Psychotherapy (a type of counseling) can be helpful in changing the thinking and behavior that contribute to the symptoms. Therapy also can help the person learn better ways to deal with stress, and improve his or her social and work functioning. Unfortunately, most people with hypochondriasis deny there are any mental or emotional problems, making them fairly resistant to psychotherapy.
What are the complications of hypochondriasis?A person with hypochondriasis is at risk for repeated episodes of symptoms. He or she also might suffer from reactions or health problems related to multiple tests, procedures, and treatments. In addition to the pain and frustration this disorder often causes to the person and his or her family, repeated episodes also can lead to unnecessary and risky procedures, as well as high medical bills. Further, genuine medical problems can be missed in a person with a long history of having tests with negative results.
What is the outlook for people with hypochondriasis?Hypochondriasis tends to be a long-term (chronic) condition that can last for years. In many cases, symptoms can recur. Only a small percentage of patients recover completely. For that reason, the focus of treatment is on learning to manage and control symptoms, and on minimizing functional problems associated with the disorder.

Can hypochondriasis be prevented?

There is no known way to prevent hypochondriasis. However, providing the person with an understanding and supporting environment might help decrease the severity of the symptoms and help him or her better cope with the disorder.

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