With the development of internet communication and information technology, we gained access to different levels of knowledge. The internet network has now become an integral part of our lives. Everything is available in cyberspace ranging from science, engineering, business, politics, communication, and current affairs.
The internet has revolutionized the accessibility and distribution of the way of information. In recent days, many people browse online to search for medical information. For many people, the online search for various medical or health-related facts becomes the first source of information. Nowadays, people often check the basic information about the disease and treatment online before visiting the doctor.
Online searches for obtaining medical information are beneficial in many ways. But sometimes using internet medical knowledge becomes unfavorable instead of helping.
What is cyberchondria?
Cyberchondria or compucondria is a clinical phenomenon that arises from the irrational rise of health worries about common symptoms based upon extensive online search findings. It is becoming a rising concern among healthcare providers, as patients now research every symptom and its correlated illness or condition online and develop a state of anxiety about having rare diseases.
Nowadays, many people who encounter an illness prefer exploring the internet to self-diagnose and get medical information. When people read this information, some may feel a sense of betterment after understanding their medical condition. But, for some people, the searched medical facts increase their unjustified health-related anxiety.
What are the causes of cyberchondria?
Spending all-time browsing to find a correlation of your symptoms is the root cause of cyberchondria. The following are some causes and triggers of cyberchondria:
- People suffering from anxiety and depression have higher chances of developing cyberchondria.
- Cyberchondria is also prevalent in those who have lost a loved one.
- Chronic untreated stress
- First-time pregnancy may also cause cyberchondria in mothers
- Having a family member or friend with cyberchondria or severe anxiety disorder
- Overprotective and hyper-anxious mothers
- Elevated awareness of bodily sensations
- People having an obsession with being sick tend to develop cyberchondria
- Parents have a child after a long time post marriage
- Contradictory experience with a healthcare provider causes a lack of trust in doctors.
What are the signs and symptoms of cyberchondria?
The prime sign of cyberchondria is that the affecting person worries too much about having a life-threatening disease, regardless of having a few mild symptoms. The affected people have the following typical signs and symptoms:
- An irresistible desire for continuous searching for the information
- Spending too much time searching online for facts about the mild symptoms you are experiencing
- Panic and excessive worrying due to searching behavior
- Want to hear confirmation of your diagnosis based on the internet find
- Developing mistrust of medical professionals, as their facts don’t match your interpretation
- Fear of having at least one or more life-threatening illness
- While searching for correlated illness, you experience a rise in heart rate, sweating, palpitation, or other anxiety-related symptoms.
- You conclude that your findings are accurate despite the doctor’s suggestion.
How does cyberchondria affect our health?
There is extensive online information for a particular disease, which is not always factual and evidence-based. An enormous amount of online facts suppresses authenticated information. These facts can persuade people that these indistinct symptoms mean life-threatening diseases. The following are some health-related issues present in people with cyberchondria:
- People with cyberchondria are hyper-sensitive to their bodily functions, and misinformation increases their worrying and makes their ailments seem worse.
- It can stimulate a high level of stress in a person.
- People with cyberchondria may suffer from high blood pressure, muscle tension, headaches, and mood swings.
- Absence from work due to their false illness
- It can affect their relationship with family and friends, as they don’t want to listen to their health concerns.
- A person may suffer from economic problems due to frequent expensive medical tests.
- Excessive intake of over-the-counter drugs also causes some side-effects
What are the methods to cope with cyberchondria?
The following are a few steps people can follow to cope with cyberchondria:
- You can start dealing with cyberchondria by accepting that you don’t have any severe illness and start believing what your doctor suggests.
- Taking breaks from browsing is the best way to deal with the condition.
- You have to understand that not all the information on the internet is accurate. Some information is a marketing strategy for the promotion of treatments and medications.
- You can write down the symptoms and issues you are experiencing and analyze them about their reality.
- Various relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, muscle-tension relaxation techniques, and meditation can be helpful.
- Lifestyle changes, such as a good sleep pattern, eating a balanced diet, and developing hobbies, can improve the condition.
- Believe in your doctor, as they have more reliable information.
If excessive worrying and anxiety are affecting your personal life, you can take help from the professionals. They can help you identify the trigger factors and find a way to treat them.