Hypochondria is a belief that physical symptoms are signs of a serious illness, even when there is no medical evidence to support the presence of an illness.
People with hypochondria are overly focused on their physical health. They have an unrealistic fear of having a serious disease. This disorder occurs equally in men and women.
The way people with hypochondria think about their physical symptoms can make them more likely to have this condition. As they focus on and worry about physical sensations, a cycle of symptoms and worry begins, which can be difficult to stop.
It is important to realize that people with hypochondria do not purposely create these symptoms (malingering). They are unable to control the symptoms.
People who have a history of physical or sexual abuse are more likely to have this disorder. However, this does not mean that every person with a hypochondria disorder has a history of abuse.
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deGruy FV. The somatic patient. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 61.
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