Illness Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

Illness anxiety disorder, formerly known as hypochondriasis, is when an individual becomes preoccupied with the fear they may be suffering from one or more serious illnesses on an ongoing basis. In many cases, those who suffer from illness anxiety disorder have difficulty functioning and performing everyday tasks, and with maintaining personal and professional relationships. Having a better understanding of illness anxiety disorder symptoms can help you or your loved one seek treatment as needed to overcome this behavioral health disorder.

If you or someone you love is suffering from illness anxiety disorder, call our 24/7 confidential helpline at 800-598-5053 (Who Answers?)  immediately for guidance. Our caring addiction specialists will connect you or your loved one with nearby treatment centers that can help you successfully overcome illness anxiety disorder.

Common Symptoms of Illness Anxiety Disorder

Individuals with illness anxiety disorder are often more concerned about the health disorder from which they might be suffering than on the actual symptoms. They may check their bodies repeatedly for signs of illness, or visit their doctors excessively. These individuals often become scared or anxious when experiencing new bodily sensations.

Illness anxiety disorder can cause those it affects to seek reassurance from friends, family, co-workers, and doctors about matters related to their health. The disorder can cause strain in relationships, and affect a person’s overall quality of life as a result. Sometimes, those with illness anxiety disorder avoid spending time with loved ones, and may even refrain from exercise for fear of becoming ill.

Illness Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

Those with illness anxiety disorder are preoccupied with developing a serious health condition.

Below are common symptoms of illness anxiety disorder:

  • Being preoccupied with having or developing a serious illness.
  • Exhibiting no physical symptoms, or having mild physical symptoms.
  • Checking the body regularly for signs of illness.
  • Becoming easily anxious about health problems despite professional reassurance.
  • Seeing a healthcare provider too often or not enough as needed.
  • Worrying excessively about having or developing health conditions that run in the family.
  • Being unable to function normally due to worrying about potential illnesses.
  • Avoiding people, activities, and places for fear of developing illnesses.
  • Talking repeatedly about health and possible illnesses.
  • Searching the Internet regularly to research causes of symptoms and illnesses.

Diagnosing and Treating Illness Anxiety Disorder

Illness anxiety disorder can be diagnosed by a primary care physician or behavioral health specialist, and is often confirmed when people suffer symptoms for at least six months. Treatment often involves one or more medications, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or a combination of both. In many cases, illness anxiety disorder is treated similarly to obsessive-compulsive disorder due to similarities between both conditions.

Medications commonly prescribed for illness anxiety disorder include serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which help balance neurotransmitters that cause anxiety and obsession. Other antidepressants are sometimes prescribed to treat anxiety and depression in these patients.

In addition to undergoing cognitive-behavioral therapy, patients may also undergo stress management therapy to learn how to relax and focus less on symptoms. Therapists also educate patients about anxiety, and about how constantly checking for illnesses can worsen symptoms instead of improve them.

If you or someone you care about has illness anxiety disorder, understand that seeking treatment can improve the overall quality of life for you and/or your loved one. Call our 24/7 confidential helpline at 800-598-5053 (Who Answers?) to learn more about addiction treatment centers that can address and treat illness anxiety disorder symptoms.


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