What is Cyberchondria?

Cyberchondria is a form of health anxiety that is caused by a person’s excessive use of the internet to research health-related information. It is a type of health-related anxiety disorder that affects individuals who are obsessed with researching their own health conditions online. It can be a symptom of a larger anxiety disorder or it can be a stand-alone condition. While it is not officially recognized as a mental health disorder, it is a growing concern among health professionals as it can lead to serious psychological and physical health issues.

What Causes Cyberchondria?

There are a number of factors that can contribute to the development of cyberchondria. These include:

• Anxiety: People who already suffer from anxiety are more likely to develop cyberchondria. Anxiety can lead to a fear of the unknown, which can cause a person to excessively research their symptoms online in an attempt to ease their anxiety.

• Stress: Stress can cause a person to become overwhelmed and turn to the internet for answers.

• Low Self-Esteem: Low self-esteem can lead to a person feeling inadequate and seeking validation from the internet.

• Lack of Knowledge: People who lack knowledge about a particular medical condition may turn to the internet to research it.

• Genetics: Genetics can play a role in the development of cyberchondria as some people are predisposed to anxiety disorders.

What Are the Symptoms of Cyberchondria?

The symptoms of cyberchondria can vary from person to person, but some common signs include:

• Excessive use of the internet to research health-related information.

• Becoming overly concerned about one’s health.

• A tendency to jump to conclusions about one’s health based on the research they have done.

• An inability to stop researching health-related information.

• An increase in anxiety and fear about one’s health.

• Avoiding medical professionals or ignoring medical advice.

• Becoming overly preoccupied with researching health-related information.

How Can Cyberchondria Be Treated?

The treatment of cyberchondria depends on the severity of the condition. In some cases, medications may be prescribed to help reduce anxiety and depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is also a popular form of treatment for cyberchondria. CBT helps patients to identify and challenge the negative thoughts and behaviors that are associated with cyberchondria.

In addition to medications and CBT, there are also a number of lifestyle changes that can help to reduce the symptoms of cyberchondria. These include:

• Limiting internet use: Limiting the amount of time spent researching health-related information can help to reduce the symptoms of cyberchondria.

• Seeking professional help: Seeking professional help from a doctor or therapist can help to address the underlying causes of cyberchondria.

• Practicing relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help to reduce stress and anxiety.

• Avoiding triggers: Identifying and avoiding triggers such as certain websites or topics can help to reduce the symptoms of cyberchondria.

Conclusion

Cyberchondria is a type of health-related anxiety disorder that is caused by a person’s excessive use of the internet to research health-related information. It is a growing concern among health professionals as it can lead to serious psychological and physical health issues. The symptoms of cyberchondria can vary from person to person, but some common signs include excessive use of the internet to research health-related information, becoming overly concerned about one’s health, and an inability to stop researching health-related information. Treatment for cyberchondria typically involves a combination of medications, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and lifestyle changes. It is important to seek professional help if you are experiencing the symptoms of cyberchondria as it can lead to serious psychological and physical health issues.

FAQs

What is cyberchondria?

Cyberchondria is a term used to describe the phenomenon of people becoming overly anxious or worried about their health after researching their symptoms online.

What are the risks of cyberchondria?

The risks of cyberchondria include increased anxiety and stress levels, self-diagnosis of serious illnesses, and unnecessary medical tests or treatments.

How can cyberchondria be managed?

Cyberchondria can be managed by using reputable websites for research, seeking professional medical advice, and limiting the amount of time spent researching online.


References

Cox, D. J., & Cohen, D. J. (2006). Cyberchondria: The assessment of internet search behaviour for health information and its relationship to health anxiety. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 9(3), 317–320. https://doi.org/10.1089/cpb.2006.9.317

Gosling, M. (2012). Cyberchondria: The impact of the Internet on health anxiety. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 19(5), 398–405. https://doi.org/10.1002/cpp.764

Rudaz, M., & Billieux, J. (2015). Cyberchondria: A review of current evidence and future directions. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 28(3), 203–208. https://doi.org/10.1097/YCO.0000000000000107