Finding Help for Illness Anxiety Disorder

Illness anxiety disorder is a more recent term for a disorder that is connected with hypochondria. Though both terms are still used in today’s society, illness anxiety disorder implies some of the very specific symptoms that were once merely covered under hypochondria. If you believe you have illness anxiety disorder, finding help can be very important.

What is Illness Anxiety Disorder?

According to the NLM, “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.” Illness anxiety disorder follows many of the same symptoms, although something could or could not be medically wrong with the person.

The NCBI describes illness anxiety disorder as a less severe form of hypochondriasis. It is also “a debilitating and chronic condition in which normal bodily symptoms are misinterpreted as signs of serious medical illness.” People who suffer from illness anxiety disorder will find themselves:

  • Obsessed by the fear of getting sick
  • Anxious constantly
  • Having heightened senses of regular bodily sensations and interpreting them as a sign of illness
  • Researching possible illnesses constantly and often becoming convinced that they have them
  • Unable to be reassured or calmed by the idea that they are not ill
  • Constantly distressed over the possibility of having an undiagnosed illness

While some people have mild versions of this disorder, others may find that their lives become negatively affected by it. Some people spend all of their time worrying about being sick that they cannot enjoy themselves or their friends and family members become upset by their constant fears. Illness anxiety disorder can disrupt a person’s entire life and, without treatment, may only become worse.

Finding Help for Illness Anxiety Disorder

hypochondria recovery

Working with a counselor can help you overcome hypochondriasis.

There are many ways to seek help for this disorder. First, you should seek help from a medical professional, most likely your doctor. Your doctor will be able to let you know if you may actually be suffering from illness anxiety disorder and help you move on to other types of treatment. Sometimes, just discussing your needs with your doctor can be very beneficial.

You should consider formal treatment for your anxiety. The NLM states that “people with hypochondria feel real distress, so their symptoms should not be denied or challenged.” Antidepressants could be helpful in this case so that the anxiety a person with this disorder feels might be curbed somewhat. Therapy could also be beneficial to the individual as the symptoms of anxiety are difficult to fight on one’s own.

Other ways to find help for your disorder are to:

  • Discuss it with friends and family members. Helping them understand what you are going through and how hard having the disorder is for you will help you in the long-run. They can become a good support system while you look for treatment.
  • Go to SAMHSA‘s treatment locator and look for facilities that have treatment plans for mental disorders.
  • Ask your doctor or insurance provider to recommend a therapist.

Because illness anxiety disorder is classified as an actual mental disorder, you should be able to find help in many places. If one method is not working for you, continue to look until you find the one that does.


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