Illness Anxiety Disorder and Opiate Abuse Risks
Being able to spot the early signs of an oncoming illness goes a long way towards warding off a full-blown ailment. While it’s always good to stay on top of your health, worrying too much can cause problems all its own.
Commonly known as hypochondria, people affected by illness anxiety disorder live with an ongoing fear of developing a serious illness. According to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, an estimated 25 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with hypochondriasis, or illness anxiety disorder.
When left untreated, ongoing feelings of fear and anxiety can drive a person to seek relief through drug abuse, and opiate abuse in particular. Taking steps early on to address symptoms of illness anxiety disorder can help you avoid the dangers of opiate abuse.
Illness Anxiety Disorder
Whenever a behavior reaches a point where it starts to hamper a person’s ability to carry out daily life activities, the makings of a disorder are likely at work. With illness anxiety disorder or IAD, individuals become so preoccupied with the possibility of developing an illness that it impairs their social interactions as well as their ability to function at the workplace, according to the Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy.
More often than not, perceived symptoms of illness have no physical basis. When an actual ailment does exist, someone with IAD will agonize over worst-case scenarios rather than see the symptoms for what they are.
Symptoms of Illness Anxiety Disorder
While symptoms of illness anxiety disorder can vary from person to person, overwhelming anxiety forms the basis for the behaviors that result. According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms commonly experienced with IAD include:
- Viewing normal bodily sensations, such as stomach growling as a possible sign of sickness or disease
- Frequent visits to the doctor
- Feeling little to no relief or reassurance when the doctor finds nothing wrong
- Excessive worry leaves you unable to think clearly
- Avoiding certain people and places deemed as health risks
- Compulsive internet searching for symptom causes and related illnesses
- Repeatedly checking your throat or skin or other areas on the body for signs of illness
Opiate Abuse Risks
The distress brought on by illness anxiety disorder can become an ongoing source of dysfunction that disrupts a person’s relationships, finances and ability to hold down a job. If feelings of anxiety reach of point of becoming unbearable, the “naturally” calming effects of opiates can easily seem like a welcome reprieve.
Opiates act as depressants, slowing down brain activities while calming a person’s emotional state in the process. Under these conditions, it can be easy to fall into a habit of abusing opiates to cope with symptoms of illness anxiety disorder.
Over time, this practice can lead to opiate addiction, which essentially makes an already difficult situation so much worse.
If you need information on illness anxiety disorder treatment or need help finding a treatment program, call our helpline at 800-598-5053 (Who Answers?) to speak with one of our phone counselors.