The exact cause of illness anxiety disorder isn't clear, but these factors may play a role:
- Beliefs. You don't understand the meaning of body sensations or you have a poor understanding of diseases, or both. This could lead you to think that all body sensations are serious, so you search for evidence to confirm that you have a serious disease.
- Family. You may be more likely to have health anxiety if you had parents who worried too much about their own health or your health.
- Past experience. You may have had experience with serious illness in childhood, so physical sensations are frightening to you.
Illness anxiety disorder usually begins in early or middle adulthood and may get worse with age. Often for older individuals, health-related anxiety may focus on the fear of losing their memory.
July 02, 2015
- Illness anxiety disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed May 14, 2015.
- Levenson JL. Hypochondriasis: Epidemiology, clinical presentation, assessment, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 14, 2015.
- Levenson JL. Hypochondriasis: Treatment and prognosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 14, 2015.
- Illness anxiety disorder. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/somatic-symptom-and-related-disorders/illness-anxiety-disorder. Accessed May 16, 2015.
- Singh K, et al. From headache to tumour: An examination of health anxiety, health-related Internet use and 'query escalation.' Journal of Health Psychology. In press. Accessed May 16, 2015.
- Isaac ML, et al. Medically unexplained symptoms. Medical Clinics of North America. 2014;98:663.
- Starcevic V. Hypochondriasis and health anxiety: Conceptual challenges. British Journal of Psychiatry. 2013;202:7.
- Health anxiety (hypochondria). NHS Choices. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hypochondria/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed May 16, 2015.
- Stonnington CM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Ariz. June 13, 2015.
- Craner JR (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 12, 2015.
- Sawchuk CN (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 12, 2015.