Hypochondriasis is one of the many mental disorders related to physical illness or body problems. A person suffering from this disease always thinks that she/he has a fatal or deadly disease. This thinking is usually surrounded by a particular disease or specific symptom. If the patients do not have any idea about the disease, then this disease will cause them a huge suffering. They repeatedly conduct the same experiment and keep changing their doctor after a few days.
This is a mental disease. The infected person always thinks of a particular physical illness or problem. They think that they are surely suffering from that particular disease, instead of not having any such symptom of that disease and examining in all the possible way. Usually, the type of this disease is a very serious kind as the patient can think that he has cancer or any other type of disease which doesn’t have any possible treatment.
This problem starts from a specific symptom. For example, someone may be suffering from ACDT but the infected person will be thinking that I have cancer in my stomach. The patient may have a problem in his neck due to some other reasons but he has already thought about having a disease of the thyroid. A little trembling with his hand might have made him feel like having Parkinsonism. The patient will never accept any explanation.
Type of disease
It is said that due to the misinterpretation or misconception of a particular symptom it happens. But it doesn’t mean that there has to be a symptom. Sometimes there can be such feelings even when there are no symptoms or problems.
The patient will never believe that he is not suffering from any particular fatal disease even if the results of the tests are negative.
Hypochondriasis can be episodic which means it can happen after a certain time.it can last from months to years and can be solved effortlessly. But one thing is that it has to last six months at least otherwise it cannot be called hypochondriasis.
What happens to the affected person?
The person, patient of this disease, cannot mind any work. It badly affects his personal, family, social and even professional activities. Many are so worried about the disease that they only concentrate on the treatment of the disease leaving all other works. Thus they waste their important time. Their relatives are often disturbed by this issue. Many even took up the initial sympathy.
And other mental diseases like anxiety disorder or depression add extra spice in this disease. After suffering from hypochondriasis, they start to suffer from other mental disorders and feel helpless. Many weird thoughts cross their mind in this time such as why this disease, the imaginary disease, is not been caught, how and when the disease will be cured, maybe it is transforming into another disease day by day, many patients even start thinking about suicide too.
It is found that 4 to 6 percent people, who visit the doctor frequently for treatment, have the chance of having this disease. Usually, people can be affected by this disease before the age of 30. Both men and women have the same potential to be affected.
However, it is necessary to say that there has to be any mental pressure that the patient is suffering for a long time.
Psycho-education: First of all, it is necessary to have a detailed idea about the disease. Otherwise, the patient will be only disturbed by treating himself again and again for a disease which he doesn’t have. The patient, family and the relevant physician all should have a good knowledge of this disease. Patients and his relatives have to understand this properly and they have to accept the disease first. They should be well explained with the analysis, information and data if it is necessary.
Caution: When it is understood that there is really no physical disease, then they, the patients, should stop doing any unnecessary test. Otherwise, a new hope will arise in the patient’s mind every time whenever the test is given and it will seem to the patient that the test was not done properly or was not done at the right time. The problem will further increase.
Medication and Psychotherapy: It is important to use the proper medicines to reduce anxiety, depression or unrest. Generally, antidepressants are used in this matter. Psychotherapy is generally more effective in treating pressure management. Remember, treatment can be time-consuming but not too complicated.
Professor Dr. Shalahuddin Qusar Biplob
Professor and Coordinator- Psychiatric Sex Clinic, Dept. of Psychiatry, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University- BSMMU, Dhaka, Bangladesh and Former Mental Skills Consultant, Bangladesh Cricket Board