Hypochondrical Neurosis: Hypochondriasis is a mental illness characterized by excessive fear or preoccupation with a serious illness, despite medical testing and reassurance to the contrary. It was formerly called Hypochondrical Neurosis.
Although, hypochondriasis is often considered a disorder that primarily affects adults, it is now increasingly recognized in children and adolescents, In addition, Hypochondriasis may develop in adults without previous histories of health related fears. The disorder account for about 5% of psychiatric patients and is equally common in men and women.
The causes of hypochondriasis are not precisely known, however;
- In adult hypochondriasis may sometimes reflect a self-centered character structure or a wish to be taken care of by others
- It may also have been copied from a parent behavior
- In elderly people, hypochondriasis may be associated with depression or grief
- It may also involve biologically based hypersensitivity to internal stimuli.
Symptoms Of Hypochondrical Neurosis
- Most hypochondriasis are worried about being physically sick, although some express fear of insanity;
- The symptoms can range from general descriptions of a specific illness to unusual complaints.
- In many instances, the symptoms affect intensified awareness of ordinary body functions, such as heartbeat, breathing, or stomach noises.
- The symptoms are not delusional
- They are real, but the patient misinterprets bodily functions and attribute them to a serious or even lethal cause.
This is often complicated by the patient’s detailed understanding of symptoms and medical terminology from previous contact with do ctors. If a new doctor suspects hypochondriasis, he or she will usually order a complete medical check up in order to rule out physical disease.
Additional Features of hypochondriasis
The following are characteristics of hypochondriasis:
The patient is not psychotic (out of touch with reality or hallucination)
The patient gets upset or blames the doctor when told there is nothing wrong or that there is psychological basis for the problem
There is a correlation between episode of hypochondriasis behavior and stressful periods in the patient’s life.
The behavior has lasted at least six months
Treatment Of Hypochondrical Neurosis
he goal of therapy is to help the patient (and family) live wih the symptoms and to modify thinking and behaviour that reinforces hypochondriasis symptoms. This treatment orientation is called supportive, as distinct from insight-oriented, because hypochondriasis usually resist psychological interpretations of their symptoms.
Supportive treatment may include medication to relieve anxiety
Some clinicians look carefully for “masked” depression and treat with anti-depressants.
Following care includes regular physical check-ups because about 30% of patients with hypochondriasis will eventually develop serious physical illness.
The physician also tries to prevent unnecessary medical testing and “doctor shopping” on the patient;s part.