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Hypochondriasis: Treatment with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and How I'm Getting My Life Back

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Introduction

´╗┐Hypochondriasis: Treatment with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and How I'm Getting My Life Back Daniel Fontaine Psychology 101 November 2012 The word hypochondriasis is derived from ancient Greek word hypochondria . It is made up of hypo-, meaning ?under,? and khondros (khondria is the neuter pleural), meaning ?cartilage?, specifically the cartilage of the breastbone. The word reflects the belief that the viscera of the hypochondria was the source of vapor that caused anxiety and melancholy. Hypochondriasis is the modern medical term for the condition and hypochondria is considered the lay term. Hypochondriasis is a disorder in which the patient misinterprets normal bodily symptoms such and a headache, or a cough as much more serious diseases. A typical hypochondriac may interpret symptoms of the common cold as symptoms of lung cancer. He/she may go to the doctor, be tested for different diseases, only to seek help from different physicians when the results turn up negative. Hypochondria is on the spectrum of anxiety disorders, but also has traits of somatization disorders. However, a hypochondriac's chief focus is not symptoms, but the cause of them. Hypochondria has been around since ancient times and is one of the oldest disorders documented. ...read more.

Middle

One of the biggest roadblocks in treatment is reassurance seeking. As mentioned before, a hypochondriac will seek tests hoping for a negative result. He may also seek alternative treatments such as homeopathy. When a hypochondriac receives this reassurance, it will merely perpetuate the condition. Similar to checking, a hypochondriac will learn that this behavior will provide a temporary ease to the anxiety. After the initial feelings of calmness have worn off, the hypochondriac will feel the need to seek further reassurance, and so the cycle continues. I have often sought reassurance through doctor's visits. There was a time when I was experiencing tightness in my chest which at times made it difficult to breath. I ended up making an appointment with the doctor, who, since I was a smoker, gave me a chest X-ray. The results came back normal, and surprisingly my symptoms went away for quite some time. For about a month, my hypochondria was relatively tame. Then, I started experiencing new symptoms. This time it was a feeling of a lump in my throat. This started a new cycle of reassurance seeking. Finally, a less apparent behavior is avoidance. This is when a hypochondriac will avoid activities that perpetuate symptoms. ...read more.

Conclusion

In cases of ?cyberchondria,? the patient should also be urged not to seek reassurance on the internet. Finally, it is important for the patient to identify and re-attribute his beliefs. For example, a patient suffering from a side stitch may write down other symptoms such as overexertion, lying down on the wrong side, etc. and realize that he is not suffering from a hernia. It is important for the patient to know that recovery will not occur overnight. It is a lifelong process. Although I have made leaps and bounds in my treatment, I still have many outbreaks. However, I deal with them now in a much more rational way and they are far less intense. In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy and support from my family, I have also found mediation to be quite helpful. For many sufferers, hypochondria tends to be at its worst in stressful situations. I have found that if I take a moment to breath, and accept the situation at hand, I am much less stressed. It is my hope that this essay will shed some light on treatment for hypochondriasis, as well as better the understanding by sharing a personal perspective. Finally, I hope this will inspire other hypochondriacs to embark on the journey of getting their lives back. 1. ...read more.

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