You may start by seeing your primary health care provider. Or, you may go directly to a mental health provider on your own. But if you're like most people with hypochondria, you have a hard time believing that your symptoms and health anxiety could be psychological in nature. But try to keep an open mind and understand that if multiple doctors can't find an underlying health problem, then you may indeed have hypochondria.
What you can do
Being an active participant in your care can help your efforts to manage your condition. One way to do this is by preparing for your appointment. Think about your needs and goals for treatment. Also, write down a list of questions to ask. These questions may include:
- Why do you think I might have hypochondria?
- How can you be sure that I don't have a serious illness that just hasn't been detected yet?
- Can I get over hypochondria on my own?
- How do you treat hypochondria?
- Will psychological counseling (psychotherapy) help?
- Are there medications that might help?
- How long will treatment take?
- What can I do to help myself?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me?
- What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to your prepared questions, don't hesitate to ask questions at any time during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
During your appointment, your doctor or mental health provider is likely to ask you a number of questions about your mood, thoughts and behavior, medical appointments and procedures, and symptoms that make you think you have a serious illness. You may be asked such questions as:
Nov. 23, 2010
- What symptoms are you having that you think may be caused by a physical illness?
- What treatments, if any, have you had?
- What tests and procedures, if any, have you had?
- What have you tried on your own to feel better or control your symptoms?
- What things make you feel worse?
- How much time do you spend each day thinking about your health?
- How do worries about your health affect your daily life?
- Have friends or family commented about your thoughts or behavior?
- Have any of your relatives had a mental illness?
- What do you hope to gain from treatment?
- What medications or over-the-counter herbs and supplements do you take?
- Hypochondriasis. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Aug. 27, 2010.
- Asmundson GJ. Health anxiety: Current perspectives and future directions. Current Psychiatry Reports. 2010;12:306.
- Greenberg DB, et al. Somatization. In: Stern TA, et al. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/217852368-5/0/1657/229.html?tocnode=57542807&fromURL=229.html#4-u1.0-B978-0-323-04743-2..50026-3_582. Accessed Aug. 27, 2010.
- Ferri FF. Hypochondriasis. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..00017-2--sc29050&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&type=bookPage§ionEid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..00017-2--sc29050&uniqId=217852368-6#4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..00017-2--sc29050. Accessed Aug 27, 2011.
- Smith RC. Primary care management of medically unexplained symptoms. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 27, 2010.
- Greenberg DB. Primary care management of medically unexplained symptoms. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 27, 2010.