Is Your Child’s Behavior Suggesting Hypochondria?

  • Posted on: Jul 15 2019
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We describe a hypochondriac as a person who lives in a state of fear regarding their health. The physical sensations that most people simply don’t notice can lead to persistent and sometimes extreme anxiety for the person with hypochondria. This mental health condition has been made fun of from time to time and can seem frustrating to those close to a hypochondriac. However, the insidious nature of the intense “sickness mindset” can severely degrade a person’s quality of life.

Statistics suggest that approximately five percent of doctor’s office and emergency room visits each year relate to hypochondria. Currently, more than 200,000 hypochondria diagnoses are made each year. Often, illness anxiety becomes apparent during early adulthood. However, children may also demonstrate a lean toward hypochondria. It is important to recognize the signs of health anxiety so help may be provided.

Signs of Hypochondria

The symptoms of this mental health disorder may vary in intensity for each person. Some of the indications that a child may harbor abnormal anxiety regarding their health include:

  • Expressing new physical complaints frequently (as often as daily).
  • Talking about their health is a normal part of conversation.
  • Asking to have their temperature taken daily (or more frequently).
  • Checking their body or physical sensations for signs of illness.
  • Reacting to physical sensations such as a runny nose or stomach upset with intense worry.
  • Asking to be taken to the doctor.

These and other symptoms may occur after the child or someone close to them has been affected by illness. Studies suggest that a child who has a hypochondriac family member or who has a primary mental health condition may be more susceptible to illness anxiety. To complicate matters, many hypochondriacs also manifest physical symptoms of anxiety, such as dizziness, stomach upset, headaches, and other stress responses. When health-related fears become obsessive or interfere with a child’s livelihood, a thorough psychiatric evaluation can be a valuable step.

Professional treatment may include traditional therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy, stress management strategies, and family support. Each of these strategies can take weeks or months to begin helping the affected child. For this reason, it is beneficial to look at psychopharmacology as an adjunct to other forms of care.

Get Help for Childhood Hypochondria

Illness anxiety can degrade a child’s life experience and also disrupt the family unit. Dr. Linda Stull offers professional insights and assistance that can restore peace of mind to the child and those who love them. To schedule a psychiatric evaluation in our Burr Ridge, IL office, call 630-325-4899.

Posted in: Mental Health, Psychiatric Evaluation

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