Living with hypochondria is just no way to live. The truth is that, we will all go some day. That understanding can be liberating for many—allowing one to be even more in the moment and enjoy every moment of life and health. But, for some, that realization can consume them and make them obsessed with postponing the inevitable reality. I go through bouts of hypochondria, and have a mother who certainly struggles with it. While it’s obviously good to stay on top of routine health checks, and to visit a doctor if concerning symptoms come up, a hypochondriac may spend most of her waking hours looking for symptoms and inflating symptoms in her mind. Hypochondria can be turned around, most likely with the help of a trained psychologist, and should be addressed so you can get back to living life rather than obsessing over death. If you are worried about it, here are signs you’re slowly becoming a hypochondriac.
You take on other’s symptoms
If someone around you mentions having a headache, sore throat, or sore muscles, you suddenly feel as if you have a headache, sore throat, or sore muscles. The mere mention of symptoms near you makes you believe you feel them, too.
You obsess over the illness of someone else
If you learn of someone having an illness, you fixate on comparing yourself to this person. Do you eat better? Do you exercise as much, or more? What supplements do they take? What supplements do they skip? You start an in-depth comparison of yourself to this person to try and assess your risk of developing the same condition.
You study your family medical history intensely
You are obsessed with your family medical history. You call up relatives whom you haven’t spoken to in a long time, just to ask if their child or spouse ever suffered from X, Y, or Z condition. You’re almost hoping that they did so you can confirm your fears that you have that condition, rather than having to continue searching for answers.
You assume the worst of mild symptoms
If you have a sore throat or a stomachache, your mind jumps to the worst possible cause. You assume throat cancer or colitis. You never just think allergies or indigestion.
You spend too much on preventative care
You spend an exorbitant amount of money on preventative care from ancient medicinal herbs to detoxing treatments. You spend so much on these things that the stress of that spending could truly cause you a health issue.
You avoid perceived sick people like the plague
If someone coughs once on the phone, you cancel plans with her. If you hear a neighbor sneeze, you ask that she not come near you. You also have anxiety around crowded spaces due to all of the potential bacteria.
Most of your search history is medical
A disproportionate percentage of your online search history is of the medical nature. In fact, you are out of touch with things like major world news events because you spend most of your time online searching medical sites—not news ones. Not even social media.
You have extreme nervousness around travel
The idea of going on a trip causes you tremendous anxiety. You research which illnesses are prevalent at your destination. You worry about being far from your doctor. You must know where the pharmacies are in relation to your hotel. You triple check that you have travel health insurance and what exactly that covers.
You’ve had extensive testing—that you elected
Though your doctors have told you that certain tests and procedures really did not seem necessary, you elected to have them, anyways. That means you paid out of pocket since your doctor did not state these were necessary.
All tests came back normal, but you don’t trust them
Even though all of your medical tests came back normal, you don’t feel any better. You believe the tests missed something. You believe the medical equipment wasn’t up to date. You cannot find peace of mind, even when medical professionals tell you that nothing is wrong.
Someone you love died of a chronic illness
Having someone you love die of a chronic or fatal illness can often trigger hypochondria. The trauma of the event—the tragedy and the senselessness of it—can remind us that tomorrow is not guaranteed, and for some, that can trigger extreme anxiety around illness.
Someone you love died suddenly of natural causes
Likewise, if someone you know died suddenly and unexpectedly of natural causes—if someone you perceived to be in perfect health just died suddenly—this, too, can trigger hypochondria.
You are quick to alarm
If you feel any less than 100 percent well, you immediately panic as if you have already received a devastating diagnosis.
You struggle to enjoy yourself due to these thoughts
You do not feel very present doing everyday activities that you used to enjoy. You are too focused on every little sensation in your body—on focusing inward—to focus on what’s going on around you.
You’re nearly as educated as a doctor
You haven’t gone to medical school, but you have basically put yourself through it because you have read all of the books doctors would have in medical school. You’re extremely learned in medical jargon. You subscribe to all of the medical journals.