There are many individuals in the world who suffer from some type of mental illness. However, in some of these cases, the individual has difficulty receiving any help. The reason for this is because the symptoms of some mental illnesses are such that it is difficult to know if they are severe enough to warrant treatment. For example, if an individual has several bad events in his or her life within a short period of time causing depression, it is difficult to know if this sadness is merely temporary. In any case, the individual needs a physician to examine him or her to determine if he or she truly suffers from a type of mental illness. This is so that physical causes may be ruled out as the cause of the symptoms that are being exhibited. One such psychiatric disorder that requires the examination of the patient by a physician is called hypochondriasis. The purpose of this paper is to explore the mental illness of hypochondriasis.
Hypochondriasis is unique in that it is both a disorder and a symptom. In other words, it can be a diagnosis that presences itself alone, and it can also be a symptom that exists with other symptoms in combination creating a different diagnosis. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV, hypochondriasis is a “preoccupation with the idea that one has or might get a serious disease, along with misinterpretation of bodily symptoms or bodily functions” . Consequently, there is a “persistent … belief that she or he has a serious illness despite medical reassurance, a lack of physical findings, and failure to develop the disease” . To receive this diagnosis he or she must have this complaint for at least six months. One of the difficulties of this disorder is due to the fact that individual does not realize that his or her concern over being ill are excessive. Additionally, they are extremely sensitive to the stat of their body, even keeping records of symptoms and bodily functions. They are unaware that normal activity of the body may involve bodily symptoms that are not serious. Instead, these bodily symptoms are often “exaggerated” . For example, an individual with hypochondriasis might believe that his or her headache or stomachache is a precursor of some type of cancer, rather than a temporary condition that will eventually relieve itself.