What is Hypochondria?
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People with hypochondria believe they are seriously ill, despite doctors saying otherwise. Watch this video to get details on the causes, symptoms and treatments of hypochondria.
Transcript: The American Psychological Association claims five-percent of all U.S. adults suffer from hypochondria....
The American Psychological Association claims five-percent of all U.S. adults suffer from hypochondria. Hypochondria is a mental illness where a person worries and fears they're seriously ill, despite all contradicting medical evaluations and assurances. Hypochondriacs misinterpret normal bodily functions or minor health issues as signs that something very serious is wrong. For example, a hypochondriac may misplace his wallet and become convinced that he's developed Alzheimer's disease; or he might be certain a standard headache is really a brain tumor. Hypochondriacs tend to exacerbate their condition by obsessively consuming medical research, frequently checking their vital signs, such as temperature and heart rate, and by regularly scouring their bodies for lumps, sores, or other problems. When doctors reassure them nothing's wrong, hypochondriacs may go "doctor shopping," looking for practitioners who believe them that they're sick. Hypochondriacs can get so obsessed that their work, family and social lives suffer. And 60-percent of people with this condition also suffer from another mental illness, namely major depression or an anxiety disorder. Doctors find that a history of physical or sexual abuse may foreshadow hypochondria. Growing up with a hypochondriac parent, or having a serious illness, as a child is also a factor. Whatever the cause, hypochondria is tough to treat, as patients have a hard time admitting that their problems are mental, not physical. Talk therapy is the most common treatment for people seeking help. In therapy, patients learn how to change the thinking and behaviors behind their symptoms. Certain medications, like Lexapro, Paxil and other antidepressants in the selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor class, are also helpful. The goal of treatment is not to cure hypochondria, but help the patient live as normally as possible, even if symptoms continue. If you or a loved one seems to suffer from hypochondria, make an appointment to see a mental health professional.More »
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Some 40 million Americans experience anxiety disorders. The most common include obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder and various phobias.
Transcript: Anxiety disorders are much different than the normal anxiety we all experience on occasion. Instead,...
Anxiety disorders are much different than the normal anxiety we all experience on occasion. Instead, these mental illnesses last at least six months and affect a person's ability to lead a normal life. Generally, anxiety disorders are classified into SIX categories: Specific phobias, social phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. While some individuals have symptoms of more than one anxiety disorder, most fall largely in one distinct group. Affecting some 19.2 million Americans, phobias are the most common anxiety disorder. A phobia is an intense fear of a specific situation or thing. Some of the most common phobias include fear of heights, flying, dogs, highway driving, water, tight spaces, and blood. While people with phobias tend to know their fears are irrational, they often have trouble facing them. A similar disorder, social phobia, is overwhelming embarrassment or fear surrounding normal social situations. About 15 million Americans have social phobias, which can be as distinct as eating in front of others and as broad as being around anyone other than close family. Often, social phobias manifest physically as blushing, trembling, and trouble talking. And no matter what the phobia, it may produce what is known as a panic attack. Panic attacks are the cornerstone of another anxiety disorder called Panic Disorder. For the 6 million Americans with Panic Disorder, intense fear is accompanied by unexpected and severe physical symptoms. These symptoms, or panic attacks, may manifest as dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, and a racing heart. Ironically, it is often the fear of having a panic attack that causes one to occur. Another well-known anxiety disorder is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, which affects about 2.2 million adults. People with OCD tend to become focused on a disturbing or frightening thought, called an obsession. An OCD sufferer will then create an elaborate ritual, or compulsion, to cope with the obsession. Sometimes an obsession - like avoiding germs - matches the compulsion, like repeated hand washing. But sometimes, the two don't seem to relate at all. For example a person may believe that repeatedly checking, touching, or counting things will ensure that a loved one doesn't die. A fifth anxiety issue - Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - follows from a traumatic event, like military combat or sexual assault. The 7.7 million Americans with PTSD relieve their trauma through flashback. They often become emotionally numb, losing interest in previously enjoyable activities. Conversely, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, is a mental illness that often exists for little or no reason. People with GAD spend each day filled with intense worry or tension about day-to-day life. For the 6.8 million Americans with the disorder, it can be tough to sleep, eat, or ever feel relaxed. If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, make an appointment to speak with your doctor about anxiety disorders!More »
Last Modified: 2013-10-02 | Tags »
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The causes of anxiety can be numerous, and the reasons are often individual. But if left untreated, anxiety can trigger other health problems, too. Learn more about anxiety and its treatment here.
Transcript: One of the most common reasons people feel anxious, on-edge, worried, or tense is that an external concern...
One of the most common reasons people feel anxious, on-edge, worried, or tense is that an external concern is on their mind. Stress at work or school difficulties in a personal relationship and financial concerns, are all examples of external causes of anxiety. Experiencing a traumatic event, like a car accident or battlefield combat, is another common example. Yet another potential external precursor to anxious feelings is using illegal recreational drugs, like cocaine or LSD. And even legal, prescription drugs may have this unwanted emotional side effect. On the other hand, a person with anxiety may have an internal, physical reason for their symptoms. Common anxiety symptoms - like heart palpitations, tremors, and shortness of breath - could actually point to a physical condition. For example, a rapidly beating heart could be a sign of a heart condition and shortness of breath could be related to asthma. On the flip side, having a physical condition like this could lead to the development of anxious feelings. Any of these factors may cause short-term, mild anxiety. But for some people, that normal anxiety balloons into a serious mental disorder. Among the individuals most predisposed to anxiety disorders are those with a history of mental illness in their family. Additionally, many people with recurrent anxiety have a chemical imbalance in their brains that makes it hard to regulate emotions properly. Personality also plays a roll. Individuals with low self-esteem and poor coping mechanisms are more prone to anxiety disorders. And, of course, many people who develop anxiety disorders have a history of traumatic or disturbing external factors in their pasts. While there are clearly many causes for anxiety, there are also many treatment options! Medications, therapy, and hypnosis are just a few of the ways in which doctors treat anxiety disorders. So if you think your own anxious feelings could point to an anxiety disorder, make an appointment to discuss them with your physician!More »
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When stress adversely affects your physical and emotional health, it may be time to learn the facts on anxiety disorders. Watch our video for information.
Transcript: Anxiety is often described as a feeling of uneasiness, nervousness, worry, or dread of what might happen....
Anxiety is often described as a feeling of uneasiness, nervousness, worry, or dread of what might happen. These emotions are usually accompanied by physical symptoms, like tense muscles, sweaty palms, an upset stomach, or a racing heart. Normal, healthy anxiety usually occurs in reaction to a real stressor. That stressor can be as relatively minor as a doctor's appointment, a first date, or a work review and as major as a job layoff, or the end of a relationship. A person experiencing everyday anxiety can usually pinpoint this stressor, and can take steps to make unpleasant feelings abate. But the National Institute for Mental Health attests that - for 40 million Americans - anxiety is more than a passing emotion it's a debilitating mental illness. Unlike the relatively short-lived anxiety we all experience, generalized anxiety disorders lasts at least six months and individuals who have it find the symptoms to be so crippling that it interferes with normal, everyday life. Frequently, people with anxiety disorders cannot pinpoint what causes their symptoms. Some sufferers find that they worry almost constantly, even if there is little or no reason for their anxious feelings. Other individuals with anxiety disorders have specific phobias to run-of-the-mill things, like flying, spiders, or even social situations. Still other sufferers have compulsions, or rigid rituals that they employ in an attempt to control their constant worry and fear. And some people with anxiety disorders find themselves occasionally struck with sudden and very intense physical distress known as panic attacks. If you are experiencing any of these severe symptoms, you may have an anxiety disorder. Make an appointment with your doctor immediately! After all, the sooner anxiety disorders are diagnosed, the sooner they can be treated.More »
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Anxiety and depression are different mental health conditions. They surely coexist, but can anxiety cause depression? Check out this video to find the answer.
Transcript: Although they often occur hand-in-hand, anxiety and depression are different mental illnesses. People...
Although they often occur hand-in-hand, anxiety and depression are different mental illnesses. People with anxiety disorders find that their near-constant fears and worries make it hard to lead a normal life. They may also experience physical symptoms like muscle tension, headaches, stomachaches, and heart palpitations. Meanwhile, a person with a depressive disorder is regularly burdened by feelings of hopelessness, insignificance, and despair. Lethargy, severe fatigue and various aches and pains are physical symptoms that may accompany depression. In most cases where depression and anxiety occur simultaneously, anxiety sets in first. That may be because people with anxiety disorders spend a great deal of time in an agitated, tense, and uneasy state. This can take a huge emotional toll, causing a person to become clinically depressed. On the flipside, a depressed person may spend a great deal of time worrying, which can, in turn, lead to anxiety. There also seems to be a genetic connection between anxiety and depression. Research indicates that both disorders occur with more frequency in people who have a first degree relative with mental illness. That's bad news, because when symptoms of depression and anxiety occur together, they are often more severe than when the conditions manifest separately. Plus, depression that is exacerbated by anxiety is more likely to lead to suicide than depression on its own. While this is disturbing, there are effective treatments available for both depressive and anxiety disorders! Often, antidepressants like Paxil and Zoloft can help ease emotional symptoms of both conditions. And participating in long-term talk therapy can also produce great results. If you, or someone you love, seems plagued by feelings of depression, anxiety - or both - talk to a psychologist.More »
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Anxiety disorders symptoms are not always clear cut. To help, your doctor will use a tool called the DSM IV to help diagnose your disorder. Learn more in this video.
Transcript: Generally, a person with an anxiety disorder finds that nervous emotions interfere with the ability to...
Generally, a person with an anxiety disorder finds that nervous emotions interfere with the ability to lead a normal life. Unlike the short-lived anxiety we all face, an individual with an anxiety condition finds that the symptoms are fairly constant. If this sounds like you the first step toward a diagnosis is making an appointment with your general practitioner. During this appointment, the doctor will take detailed notes regarding your medical history and current symptoms. She'll perform a basic physical exam and may use various laboratory tests, like blood work, to ensure that the problem is not rooted in a physical cause. If no physical medical condition is found, your general practitioner will refer you to a mental health professional. It's VITAL that you feel comfortable with this individual! If you do not, ask for another recommendation. Once you find a psychiatrist or psychologist that you like, he will want to talk to you about your symptoms. Your practitioner will then use this information - and information from his own observations - to determine if an anxiety disorder is present. Although there is no laboratory test to confirm this diagnosis there IS a manual of mental illnesses compiled by the American Psychiatric Association. Known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, or DSM IV, this book is the gold standard for diagnosing anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses in the United States. Remember, there ARE treatment options for anxiety disorders! If you're concerned about your own levels of worry, make an appointment to speak with your doctor.More »
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Most of the time, anxiety stems from stressors. You can prevent anxiety by learning how to avoid these stressors and using tactics to help you calm down. Get advice on anxiety prevention in this video.
Transcript: With few exceptions, everyday anxiety stems from a specific mental or physical stressor. Stressors vary...
With few exceptions, everyday anxiety stems from a specific mental or physical stressor. Stressors vary from person to person, and what terrifies one, may exhilarate another. Unfortunately, many stressors - like job interviews and doctor's appointments - are tough to avoid. The good news is that once a person realizes the particular events that cause the anxiety, it becomes easier to develop coping mechanisms. One of the easiest ways to prevent anxiety is to exercise regularly, which prompts your body to release feel-good chemicals, known as endorphins into the brain. Exercising also elevates body temperature, which can have a calming effect on the body. It's also important to eat a healthy, balanced diet. This includes cutting back on caffeine, which can make anxiety symptoms worse. Similarly, it's vital to get the sleep your body and brain need to recharge. Aside from these lifestyle adjustments, one of the best ways to prevent anxiety is to learn relaxation techniques. Some people find that meditation, a state of focused, intense concentration, is an effective option. Others circumnavigate anxiety when they imagine, or visualize, a positive series of events or outcomes to a situation. And still other individuals relax by focusing on their breathing. This method is particularly effective, as people tend to hold their breath in moments of anxiety, which just aggravates symptoms! Often, the best anxiety prevention is a mix of lifestyle changes and relaxation techniques. Remember though, that while you can prevent some of life's everyday anxieties, most people cannot prevent an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are a group of mental illnesses that are hard to control without proper treatment. So if you find that your anxiety does not respond to prevention techniques, or that anxious feelings dominate your day-to-day life, speak with your doctor about what you are experiencing.More »
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If you thought anxiety only plagued adults, think again! Panic attacks and other anxiety symptoms are very common among children, although they often feel stressed for different reasons.
Transcript: Just as in adults, a certain amount of anxiety is normal in children of every age. In fact, anxious feelings...
Just as in adults, a certain amount of anxiety is normal in children of every age. In fact, anxious feelings are such a part of growing up that psychologists outline anxieties to expect in kids as they grow. For example, infants as young as eight months may experience intense anxiety about being apart from their parents. This separation anxiety often lasts through the preschool years. Young children - generally aged three to six - often worry about things that are not based in reality. This is the age when kids express fear of monsters, ghosts, and the dark. From about seven years old and onward, children may express anxiety about real circumstances such as natural disasters, physical injury, and even death. And kids of any age - particularly teenagers - may express anxiety about certain social situations. Some of these anxieties can be helpful to kids, as a bit of unease can keep them alert and focused during moments of tension. And others keep them safe, like when a child is afraid of - and consequently avoids - fire or strangers. But just as anxiety can be helpful, it can also become a hindrance if it persists. Often, intense anxiety can manifest physically in a child as stomachaches, headaches, chest pain, body aches, a racing heart, and accelerated breathing. Anxious children often have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Their ability to concentrate may suffer or they may lose interest in previously enjoyable activities and people. Often, children with anxiety disorders seem irritable and agitated and they may show signs of low self-esteem, or unrealistic expectations of themselves. All of these signs of severe tension should be taken seriously! That's because unresolved anxieties and fears in children can lead to lingering anxieties and fears in adults. Plus, anxious children often don't learn vital skills, such as coping with day-to-day life and engaging in meaningful social interactions. So if you're the parent of a child who seems unusually anxious, make time to talk to her health care provider.More »
Last Modified: 2013-11-22 | Tags »
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If a trip to the dentist brings on dental anxiety, you're not alone. Many people skip the dentist entirely, purely because of their dental anxiety. Find out why!
Transcript: If a trip to the dentist is right up there with public speaking and a shark attack on your list of fears,...
If a trip to the dentist is right up there with public speaking and a shark attack on your list of fears, you're not the only one. Up to 15% of Americans say they skip the dentist ALL TOGETHER - just because of anxiety.Even if you know your nervousness is irrational, it doesn't change the fact you still feel it. But together, you and your dentist can help control your fear. Many people have a dental phobia for a lot of the same reasons. Mainly, they fear potential pain. Maybe they've had a bad experience or grew up when pain-free dentistry wasn't as advanced. For some, it's the feeling of being out of control that can be overwhelming. Add anesthetic, and this feeling is multiplied. Also...[pause]...Some people are just self-conscious about having a stranger poke around in their mouth. And it doesn't matter whether you're old or young, male or female, or large or small. Monster professional football players who are smashing each other as hard as they can on Sunday can be quaking with fear in the dental office on Monday. If you have ANY of these fears, it CAN trigger an actual physical response. It might be as mild as nervousness or trouble sleeping -- to more EXTREME responses such as throwing up or difficulty breathing. The NUMBER ONE thing you can do to help gain control is TALK TO YOUR DENTIST - no matter HOW silly you think your fears may be Having him or her explain EXACTLY what's going to happen can help ease the unknown. Also, if your dentist understands what bothers you, he or she can work around it. For example, you can set up hand signals to alert your discomfort or if you just need a break. If your dentist isn't helpful or doesn't have the patience to deal with your anxiety, DON'T HESITATE to switch dentists. Next time you're in the dentist chair, do some relaxation techniques. Try this: Squeeze one muscle at a time for a few seconds and then let it go limp. Concentrate on how good that part of the body feels when relaxed. Another trick: Focus on your breathing to distract your mind. Inhale slowly through your nose, filling your lungs from the bottom to the top. Then exhale. Repeat as many times as needed. Remember modern dentistry shouldn't hurt. It's totally understandable that you may not like the noise and would much rather be somewhere else, but it shouldn't hurt. For more on how to manage dental dilemmas, check out the other videos in this series.More »
Last Modified: 2012-11-17 | Tags »
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