(717)737-9068 Free Consultation * 24 Hour Services Available 

"For appointments in Pennsylvania please click here"
 Table of Contents
 Emotional Problems
  Lack of Confidence
 Eating Disorders
  Binge Eating
  Eating and Weight
  Emotional Eating

  Excess Weight

  Weight Control

  Loved Ones
  Separation / Divorce
  Drug and Alcohol
  Sex / Pornography
  Spending / Shopping
Behavioral Problems
  Adjustment Disorder
  Conduct Disorders
  Explosive Disorder
  Multiple Personality
  Sleep Disorders
 Phobias and Fears
  Fears and Phobias
  Panic Attacks
  Social Phobia
  Performance Anxiety
  List Of Phobias
 Sexual Concerns
  Sexual Concerns (M)
  Sexual Concerns (F)
  Gay and Lesbian
  Gender Identity Issues
  Sexual Orientation
  List of Paraphilias
Helpful Information
  Communication Skills
  Non-Verbal Comm...
  Personal Growth
  Skill Enhancement
Adoption / Infertility
  For Adoptees
  For Adopting Persons
  For Birth Parents



Hypochondria is often characterized by irrational fears of being diseased or dying, obsessions over minor bodily symptoms or imperfections, doubt and disbelief in doctors' diagnosis, constant self-examination and self-diagnosis and preoccupation with one's body.

Understanding Hypochondria

Hypochondria (or hypochondriasis), sometimes referred to as health anxiety or health phobia), is a disorder in which one has the unfounded belief that one is suffering from a serious illness. The primary feature of hypochondriasis is excessive fear of having a serious disease. These fears are not relieved when a medical examination finds no evidence of disease. 

With a true hypochondriac, the fear and preoccupation with the body and disease causes a great deal of distress and interferes with activities, such as work, school, family and social responsibilities.  If you suffer from hypochondria you may know that your fears are unrealistic, but this realization is not enough to reduce your concern and anxiety. You may see normal sensations such as heart burn, sweating, and bowel movements or minor problems such as a cough, abdominal pain or a common rash as symptoms of serious medical conditions.

People with hypochondria are obsessed with bodily functions and interpret normal sensations (such as heart beats, sweating, and bowel movements) or minor abnormalities (such as a runny nose, a small sore, or slightly swollen lymph nodes) as symptoms of serious medical conditions. The fears of a person with hypochondria may be focused on the possibility of a single illness, but more often they include a number of possible conditions. The focus of the fears may shift over time as a person notices a new symptom or learns about an unfamiliar disease. 

People with hypochondria may also interpret normal sensations as signs of disease. For instance, an occasional change in heart rate or a feeling of dizziness upon standing up will lead a person with hypochondriasis to fears of heart disease or stroke.  One form of this disorder involves a preoccupation with a single organ (such as the lungs) or disease (for example, cancer). Negative results of diagnostic examinations do little to decrease a patient's anxiety about his or her health, and he or she continues to seek medical attention. Hypochondriacs often require constant reassurance, sometimes from multiple doctors, family and friends.

Hypochondria is often associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety, and can also be brought on by stress. It is not to be confused with disorders in which an individual intentionally fakes, exaggerates, or induces mental or physical illnesses, in order to assume the role of a "patient", nor should it be confused with any other form of malingering.

Hypochondria can cause one or more of the following effects:

Anxiety attacks or panic attacks
Fear of impending doom
Loss of appetite
Decreased libido (sexual energy)
Increased self-consciousness
Decreased motivation in life.
Numbness in certain parts of the body (forehead, hands, etc)
Chronic fatigue

Symptoms of Hypochondria

Preoccupation with fear of illness
Persistent fear of having a serious illness despite medical reassurance
Misinterpretation of symptoms
Symptoms that may shift and change
Symptoms that may be vague or specific
No apparent physical disorder can account for the symptoms

In order to qualify for a diagnosis of hypochondriasis, preoccupation with fear of disease must cause a great deal of distress or interfere with a person's ability to perform important activities, such as work, school activities, or family and social responsibilities. Hypochondria is included in the category of somatoform disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), which is the reference handbook that clinicians use to guide the diagnosis of mental disorders.

Hypochondriasis can appear at any age, although it frequently begins in early adulthood. Men and women appear to suffer equally from the disorder. It is difficult to determine how many people actually suffer from this disorder. Estimates range from 0.8% to 8.5% of the general U.S. population.

Causes of Hypochondria

No one knows exactly why someone develops hypochondria. There seem to be many factors that might play a role. Hypochondria symptoms may develop following a serious illness in the patient or a loved one, or after the death of a close friend or relative. Periods of increased stress may have an influence, and a well-publicized disease in the media could affect one's interpretation of physical signs and symptoms. While any one of these events could be a "trigger" for hypochondria, certain pre-existing personality traits and basic assumptions about health and illness can make one more vulnerable. Beliefs about health care habits can also lead to mistaken interpretations, such as thinking that if one doesn't see a doctor as soon as any symptoms occur, it will be too late to treat an illness. One theory about people with hypochondria is that they have a lower threshold for pain tolerance and therefore notice internal sensations that other people may not even feel.

Treatment of Hypochondria

Given the emphasis that we put on what society calls health, youth, body and the taking of a pill to solve any problem, hypochondriasis is difficult to prevent. However, cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT), hypnotherapy, reality therapy and behavioral therapy have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing the symptoms of the disorder. Medication (antidepressants) has also proved to be effective in alleviating severe hypochondria.

Another treatment approach is "exposure and response prevention" where the patient makes a list of their hypochondriacal behaviors, such as checking body sensations and seeking reassurance from physicians or friends. Behavioral assignments are then developed. Patients who frequently monitor their physical sensations or seek reassurance are asked not to do so, and to allow themselves to experience the anxiety that accompanies suppression of these behaviors. Patients practice exposing themselves to anxiety until it becomes manageable, gradually reducing hypochondriacal behaviors in the process. Although cognitive therapy focuses more on thoughts and exposure therapy more on behaviors, both appear to be effective in reducing both dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors.

Additional Information

For more information about hypochondria and other mental health problems, please click on the linked websites listed below.

 Hypochondria Test
 The hypochondriac.com
 NIHM regarding hypochondria
 Medical News Today: hypochondria

Would You Like Personal Assistance?

If you really want help dealing with your feelings and emotions, changing your behavior, and improving your life and the approach and office hours of typical therapists and counselors do not fit your life style or personal needs, I may have a solution.

By using very flexible office appointments, telephone consultations, email, teleconferences, and the willingness to travel and meet with you personally in your home, office, or other location,  I can be available to help you anytime and anywhere.

Feel free to contact me now for your free initial consultation. Once you become an existing client, you will be given a  pager  number where you can reach me whenever you need.

  Contact Dr. Berger
Help is Available
  Who I Can Help
  How I Can Help
  What You Can Do
  About Dr Berger
What Is a
  Clinical Psychologist
  Educational Psych...
  Forensic Psychologist
  School Psychologist
  Social Worker
  Life Coach
  Personal Coach
  Executive Coach
  Mental Health Prof...
  Pastoral Counselor
Types of Treatment
  Behavioral Therapy
  Cognitive Behavioral
  Gestalt Therapy
  Rational Emotive
  Reality Therapy
  Family Therapy
  Group Therapy
  Intelligence (IQ)
  Rorschach (inkblot)
 Famous Psychologists
  Allport, Gordon
  Beck, Aaron
  Binet, Alfred
  Chomsky, Noam
  Ellis, Albert
  Erikson, Erik
  Erickson, Milton
  Freud, Sigmund
  Fromm, Erich
  Glasser, William
  Harlow, Harry
  Jung, Carl
  Kinsey, Alfred
  Laing, R.D.
  Leary, Timothy
  Lewin, Kurt
  Perls, Fritz
  Maslow, Abraham
  May, Rollo
  Piaget, Jean
  Pavlov, Ivan
  Rogers, Carl
  Satir, Virginia
  Skinner, B. F.
  Wolpe, Joseph
  Psych Associations
Anywhere Anytime
                                    Copyright 2005 Dr Vincent Berger                                     


Psychologists and Psychologist
Psychologists Psychologist
 Psychologists Allentown Pennsylvania Psychologists Hermitage Pennsylvania Psychologists Penn Hills Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Altoona Pennsylvania Psychologists Highspire Pennsylvania Psychologists Philadelphia Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Baldwin Pennsylvania Psychologists Johnstown Pennsylvania Psychologists Phoenixville Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Bethel Park Pennsylvania Psychologists King of Prussia Pennsylvania Psychologists Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Bethlehem Pennsylvania Psychologists Lancaster Pennsylvania Psychologists Plum Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Black Mountain Pennsylvania Psychologists Lansdale Pennsylvania Psychologists Pottstown Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Camp Hill Pennsylvania Psychologists Lebanon Pennsylvania  Psychologists Progress Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Carlisle Pennsylvania Psychologists Lemoyne Pennsylvania Psychologists Radnor Township Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Chambersburg Pennsylvania Psychologists Levittown Pennsylvania Psychologists Reading Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Chester Pennsylvania Psychologists Marysville Pennsylvania Psychologists Ross Township Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Colonial Park Pennsylvania  Psychologists McCandless Pennsylvania Psychologists Rutherford Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Drexel Hill Pennsylvania Psychologists McKeesport Pennsylvania Psychologists Scott Township Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Easton Pennsylvania Psychologists Monroeville Pennsylvania Psychologists Scranton Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Enola Pennsylvania Psychologists Mount Lebanon Pennsylvania Psychologists Shaler Township Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Erie Pennsylvania Psychologists Mountain Top Pennsylvania Psychologists Sharon Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Greensburg Pennsylvania Psychologists Murrysville Pennsylvania Psychologists Springfield Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Hampton Pennsylvania Psychologists New Castle Pennsylvania Psychologists State College Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Hanover Pennsylvania Psychologists Norristown Pennsylvania Psychologists Steelton Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Hazleton Pennsylvania Psychologists Penbrook Pennsylvania Psychologists Upper St Clair Pennsylvania
 Psychologists West Chester Pennsylvania Psychologists Wilkinsburg Pennsylvania Psychologists Willow Grove Pennsylvania
 Psychologists West Mifflin Pennsylvania Psychologists Williamsport Pennsylvania Psychologists York Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania  
Psychologists PA
Psychologists Pennsylvania