Do You Have Cyberchondria?

I think it’s all likely we have been there. You have a headache which appears to not go away for a couple of days, despite drinking water and taking tablets. Instead of calling the GP, you go online to see if there is any information, and all of a sudden, that innocent headache that is likely down to stress and dehydration is suddenly a brain tumour and you have terrified yourself into thinking you have weeks to live!

Research shows that more than half of adults in the UK are self-diagnosing, rather than seeking help from a licensed source. Of course, part of this is the issue of not being able to get an appointment, especially whilst COVID-19 is still doing its round, however, it’s likely that the results people are giving themselves might not be the right ones and could be doing more harm than good. In fact, some people out there have developed health anxiety, or Cyberchondria, which is identified as searching the web excessively for health care information, and spending so much time worrying they’re ill, or about getting ill, that it starts to take over their lives.Whilst most of us will ignore the fact that WebMD tells you your small headache is a sign of you being close to death, a person who suffers from Cyberchondria will take this as fact.  

What Are The Symptoms of Cyberchondria?

It’s important to note that we’re not talking about occasionally checking symptoms online rather than trying to get an appointment at the GP surgery. A person who suffers with Cyberchondria will take actions which are much more severe than this.  
  • Checking online for symptom information for over an hour per day
  • Fearing getting (or believing they have) severe and rare diseases
  • Checking for online symptoms more than once per day
  • Feeling more anxious when checking for symptoms
  • Medical history current and past is actually stable
 

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