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How to Stop Being a Hypochondriac

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Although it's often seen as harmless, sufferers know that it can shift from a quirky, neurotic character trait into a devastating obsession. As a result, a hypochondriac's work and relationships suffer. And those with the condition aren't the only ones who pay the price: According to Fallon, hypochondria costs billions of dollars a year in unnecessary medical tests and treatments.

Contrary to what some skeptics think, hypochondriacs are not pretending or just trying to get attention. It's just that their feelings don't have an obvious medical basis. Hypochondriacs tend to be very aware of bodily sensations that most people live with and ignore. To a hypochondriac, an upset stomach becomes a sign of cancer and a headache can only mean a brain tumor.

The stress that goes along with this worry can make the symptoms even worse.

Hypochondriacs are often not particularly careful about where they get their health information. To many sufferers, Gray's Anatomy , a half-remembered TV movie, and a harrowing health story about your hairdresser's friend's grandmother are all equally legitimate sources. This can lead to serious trouble for hypochondriacs using the vast and unregulated web. Even the most reputable health web sites with the most accurate information can cause trouble for the hypochondriac.

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The Happy Hypochondriac eBook by Kat Spitzer - | Rakuten Kobo

For example, illnesses such as HIV or lupus , and neurological disorders including multiple sclerosis can cause vague symptoms like fatigue , swollen glands , and strange physical sensations. With symptoms as common as these, it's easy for hypochondriacs to become convinced they're sick. Barsky and Fallon say hypochondria often breeds suspicion and distrust between a sufferer and his or her physician. Some doctors may be too quick to dismiss the worries of hypochondriacs, and hypochondriacs are likely to ruin relationships with good physicians by second-guessing them from the start.

The making of a hypochondriac

Hypochondriacs may "get suspicious when their doctor doesn't give them a referral or a test they ask for," says Fallon. No good doctor will order an MRI every time your ears are ringing or a colonoscopy every time your stomach's upset. Treating hypochondria, once believed to be almost impossible to cure, has improved a lot in the last decade.

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