The question could come from a crossword puzzle: What do the following people have in common?
Charlie Chaplin. Winston Churchill. Frederick the Great, Imanuel Kant, Woody Allen, Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, Charles Darwin, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Sigmund Freund.
All men, great minds, bright minds? Yes, true, but all of them suffered from increased fear of illness or hypochondria.
We will deal with this in several videos.
To anticipate immediately an important result: Hypochondria is often mocked and joked about, but these fears are by no means funny. Left untreated, they can cause great suffering and high costs, and there is even evidence that fears of illness can shorten life.
Let's start with the word: Hypo-Chondros means below the cartilage. The ancient Greeks, in fact, thought that the source of the ailment was to be found below the cartilage of the ribs, more precisely in the spleen. Which, of course, seems a bit bizarre today.
In the course of time, the term has acquired a negative meaning. In the sense of an imaginary disease. And this is also wrong.
Today, instead of hypochondria, we rather speak of Illness Anxiety Disorder or Health Anxiety.
It is an "official" disorder. It is described in ICD 10, 11 as well as in DSM IV, V. The definitions are similar even if there are differences in the details.
You can see that here.
Here the further distinction of functional, so-called somatoform disorders, hypochondria, illness phobia and illness delusion.
On the other hand, whether hypochondria can really be distinguished from illness phobia is uncertain.
Body perception can be seen as a continuum that can range from very low to completely exaggerated. For example, there are people with nerves of steel who effortlessly forgo anesthesia for a skin suture, while for the squeamish this would be completely unimaginable. We will come to this in detail later.
What are the typical symptoms? About these. It is mainly the constant preoccupation with the subject, the pronounced fear and the only temporary reassurance by experts.
The Internet now plays a major role in the clinical picture. Thereby, the sometimes almost non-stop searching has a double face: On the one hand, the information is supposed to provide clarity, thus reassuring, and on the other hand, exactly the opposite is also the case, as the anxious attention to body signals is intensified by information about dangerous diseases.
The constant researching is sometimes considered as a subtype of hypochondria - so called cyberchondria.
Hypochondria is usually characterized by safety seeking and simultaneous avoidance.
Anxiety about illness is a surprisingly common symptom, affecting a few percent of the population. In medical practices or clinics, however, the percentage is much higher.
In contrast to functional disorders, men and women are equally represented, according to a series of examinations.
About diagnosis: The diagnosis should be made by a specialist, i.e. psychiatrist or psychotherapist. However, a simple, orienting questionnaire can be helpful for a first orientation. It consists of 14 yes/no questions. If you score more than 8 points, it is very likely that you have an illness anxiety. You will find an online version with immediate evaluation.
And now we continue with risk factors, causes and progression
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)