Let us consider a scenario where you are in the middle of this early morning meeting and there is a pang in your chest. Your instinctively grab the closest internet device and search for your symptoms in your preferred search engine.
You thank the evolution of technology for saving your time and perhaps even your life?
In times such as these you’ll also wonder what is the point of waiting for the doctor’s appointment and running the long list of tests that burn a hole in your pocket.
Then you take one glance at the search results and it says “Heart Attack”! Your curiosity gets the better of you, you scroll through more pages. You find every symptom matching your own. Your anxiety escalates and you’re sweating all of a sudden- not because you are having a cardiac arrest but because of Cyberchondria.
Cyberchondria is the condition in which you suffer from the delusion that you have all the symptoms the internet mentions and hence, suffer from all the diseases. Needless to say this happens only when you have taken up the charge of diagnosing yourself with a compulsion to focus only on the symptoms. The invalidated information on the internet, influence hypochondriacs to become cyberchondriacs.
An expert consultation, on the other hand would know the difference between your condition and the disease, knowing what else to consider along with the symptoms.
Let us start with symptoms again, shall we? You are a hypochondriac if you have health anxiety and a Cyberchondriac if you have the online health anxiety.
Well, you probably check for your symptoms online and end up reading pages about them for upto 3 hours or so each day.
The result? After the brief survey you realise you have several different deadly diseases, some probably for years now! You get more anxious so you end up searching why your arm itches. Turns you, you should probably have already been dead according to your symptoms.
You finally decide to get admitted in a hospital wondering how many days you have left. To your disappointment, your doctor dismisses your medical health as stable.
If any one of the above apply to you, you should probably check up on your illness anxiety.
Well for starters, keep that phone down. Use that 1-3 hours you would Google your symptoms to make healthy changes such as exercising.
We could blame the stories we hear on social media or the widespread misinformation on the internet for the escalation in cyberchondria attacks, but the trigger can come in many forms. It maybe the illness of a close one or the death of a family member. Being health conscious was the never the problem, pausing to take breath sure is!