If You Spend Too Much Time Searching for Symptoms Online, You Might Be a Cyberchondriac (and That’s Not Good)
If someone feels pain or discomfort in any part of their body, they usually check their symptoms online to get an idea of what the cause could be. Sometimes this helps clear up their doubts quickly and the majority of people know that even if what they read online is published by specialists, it shouldn’t be taken as a personalized medical diagnosis.
In the case of “cyberchondria,” however, people believe that this search is enough and so they start the habit of googling any possible “symptom” on the web to basically diagnose themselves.
Bright Side wants to tell you all about this problem and the possible treatments for cyberchondria; a disorder originated by the misuse of the internet for medical purposes.
Anxiety reflected as cyberchondria
Nowadays, doctors are dealing with patients who claim to have a brain tumor just because they have a headache. The cause of this phenomenon is the self-diagnosis they make after researching signs, symptoms, and disorders online. Cyberchondria is a condition in which people make a self-diagnosis of diseases, in many cases, severe conditions, after conducting an online search that only follows their criteria. This increases their anxiety and makes the job of health care professionals more complicated.
The negative consequences of compulsive searches
Cyberchondria, like any other psychological disorder, has consequences that affect those who suffer from it. Some of the effects of conducting obsessive searches about diseases include the following:
- An increase in anxiety levels: After analyzing diseases regularly, cyberchondriacs become overloaded with information, and start worrying more than they should about conditions they will probably never develop
- Self-medication and the stop of actual medical treatments: Some cyberchondriacs begin treatments that they find on the internet without even consulting a medical professional. Others get so convinced of their self-diagnosis, that they abandon the medications their doctors prescribed. The risks to their physical health can be dangerous.
- Development of hypochondria: Due to the high exposure to online content about diseases and the intense fear of suffering from one or more of them, a person with cyberchondria can very easily develop hypochondria.
- Nosophobia: It’s a widespread phobia among medical students who are continually exposed to information about medical conditions, and cyberchondriacs can also experience it. Nosophobia can intensify their panic and their anxiety around suddenly becoming ill.
How to cope with cyberchondria
As with hypochondria, or any other mental disorder, the patient’s treatment is psychological. Relatives and friends should help a patient understand that their body is actually healthy. Having family support and attending psychotherapy sessions are very effective methods to help someone face cyberchondria. Psychopharmacology can work as well since it facilitates the patient’s journey toward recovery in the most complex cases.
Remember that you should never make any diagnosis based solely on what you read on the internet. No website can replace a doctor’s appointment. If something worries you, don’t wait, and call your doctor. That is a much better scenario than living in constant stress and fear of a disease you don’t even have.
Do you know anyone that may suffer from cyberchondria? Have you ever googled some of your symptoms? Share your experience!
Preview photo credit Friend Request / Wiedemann & Berg Film