If your doctor or mental health provider believes you may have hypochondria or another psychological condition, he or she will likely ask a number of questions or have you fill out a psychological questionnaire. If your doctor or mental health provider is concerned that your symptoms could be a sign of physical illness, he or she may order medical tests.
These steps can help pinpoint a diagnosis by ruling out other problems that could be causing your symptoms and checking for any related complications.
Exams and tests may include:
- Physical exam. This generally involves measuring height and weight, checking vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure and temperature, listening to your heart and lungs, and examining your abdomen.
- Psychological evaluation. A doctor or mental health provider will talk to you about your thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns. He or she will ask about your symptoms, including when they started, how severe they are, how they affect your daily life and whether you've had similar episodes in the past.
- Laboratory tests. These may include a complete blood count (CBC), screening for alcohol and drugs, and checking your thyroid function.
Diagnostic criteria for hypochondria
To be diagnosed with hypochondria, you must meet the symptom criteria spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.
Symptom criteria required for a diagnosis of hypochondria include:
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- A preoccupation, lasting for at least six months, that you have a serious illness based on your bodily symptoms
- Worry about this preoccupation
- Difficulty in your social life, work or other daily routines
- 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.
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- Greenberg DB. Primary care management of medically unexplained symptoms. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 27, 2010.