Is the internet fuelling hypochondria? If experts are to be believed, while it may not be the sole reason, it does make matters worse for people who suffer from the condition.
Hypochondria, or illness anxiety disorder, is an abnormal chronic anxiety about one’s health, according to Mayo Clinic.
According to Dr Andrea Tosatto, a clinical psychologist based in Dubai, there are several reasons why hypochondria is on the rise lately.
“Firstly, a lot of doctors publicise the need for periodical check ups. While many do it for creating awareness about preventing diseases, part of this could also be marketing. If you create alarm in people, you create potential clients,” he told Gulf News.
Another reason, according to Dr Tosatto, is the level of awareness among the average person today.
“People are more aware today than they were 80-90 years ago. The average person pretty much knows the potential risks of eating or behaving in a certain way,” he said.
A 2015 study by Nielsen, a global information and measurement company, stated that greater health awareness globally and a particular concern for staying in shape was offering health and pharmaceutical companies a tremendous opportunity tremendous opportunity to offer products and services that addressed those concerns.
And it is in this environment that the internet offers endless information. While people today are highly informed, many are not educated enough to know what to do with all the information.
“Usually the doctor is able to distinguish the theory from the practice. Seeing a doctor is very different from randomly reading the symptoms on the internet,” he said.
An anxiety-filled lifestyle does not make the situation any more simple. The increased pressure of modern life further adds to the fears a person might be already having about his or her health.
“The more under stress we are, the more we increase our fear of getting sick, may be rightly so. When we suffer from a problem that is connected to our anxiety, we might often visit a specialist immediately, without actually seeing a general practitioner,” Dr Tosatto warned.
He also recommended that people visit a general practitioner as they might be more experienced in seeing people with various diseases and in a better position to distinguish serious cases from minor ones.