Hypochondriasis | It is now generally recognized to be a psychiatric Somatoform disorder; characterized by a preoccupation with body functions and by the interpretation of normal body sensations such as sweating and minor abnormalities such as aches as major problems of medical importance.Hypochondriasis usually begins in the teen-age years and young adulthood. It sonset is sometimes associated with an experience in which someone close, often a loved one becomes seriously ill or dies.
Reassurance by physicians and others only serves to increase the hypochondriac's persistent anxiety about their health. They drown in an unrealistic fear of having a fatal disease due to an over-analysis of normal body changes. They often focus on one particular organ, such as the lungs, or just one disease, such as cancer. This becomes a serious threat to their normal functioning because most of a hypochondriac’s time and money is spent running from one doctor to another, getting useless medical testing and sulking at home with the thought that an illness is about to end their life. It is even more frustrating for them to see clear tests and people around them not agreeing to the symptoms that they feel; they truly believe that they are chronically ill. However,the reality of the situation is that yes they are mentally not physiologically ill.
Hypochondriacs usually turn to anti-anxiety medications to temporarily relieve their restless state of mind. This only results in more problems for them in the long run and does not control the psychological disorder itself. Psychological counselling is the primary treatment for hypochondria. A form of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioural therapy(CBT) may be the most effective treatment; this helps you recognize and stop behaviour associated with your anxiety, such as constantly monitoring your body for problems. . Sometimes counselling may include exposure therapy, in which you directly confront your health fears in a safe environment and learn skills to cope with these uncomfortable sensations.
The following are pieces depicting the state of mind of a hypochondriac. It is a combination of photography (black & white) andillustration (colour); with the photograph showing the reality of the situation,which is that there is actually no chronic illness; and the illustration reflecting the belief of a hypochondriac’s over-analysis of the symptoms.
Special thanks to Sumra Jehan for taking the photographs.