What Causes Hypochondria?
Hypochondria is a terrible disorder that millions of people around the world suffer from but it's still not quite fully understood by doctors and psychologists. There's many studies on it that can help doctors distinguish hypochondria symptoms from other disorders, but it's causes and triggers vary from person to person so it's hard to say what the single most common reason is for a person to be suffering from it.
But there are some very common reasons that cause people to become hypochondriacs, majority of which are psychological. So if you yourself are a hypochondriac, then one or more of these reasons may sound familiar to you.
If you know someone who has it, then knowing what may have caused it can sometimes help you better understand them and what they are going through. So here's some of the most common things that can trigger hypochondria in some people.
Death of a Loved One
Sometimes, if a person has known someone else who has died or become ill, then this can set a case of hypochondria into motion. If a friend or family member dies, contracts a disease, or becomes very ill, then these types of things can cause a person to realize how mortal they really are because it's as if death is hitting too close to home for their comfort.
Sometimes people forget that they aren't invincible and when they hear about bad things happening to others in the news, they brush it off because they have the "it can't happen to me" mentality. When something bad happens to someone within their inner circle, then they suddenly realize that it can, in fact, happen to them.
They realize this because they relate more to the person it happened to and also because this can cause them to obsess more over these bad things as they mourn the person or feel sympathy for them.
Near Death Experience
In some situations, people begin to experience hypochondria symptoms after they've had a near-death experience or have survived some type of serious or catastrophic thing. Like the first scenario mentioned, this one can also remind people of their mortality because they suddenly feel vulnerable when they have a close call with death or when they become seriously sick or affected by something.
They can also begin to feel as if something bad is meant to happen to them or can happen at any time, due to the feeling of having cheated death. This mentality can be referred to as the "Final Destination" mentality, even though that is not the official scientific name. The actual name of this view on life is fatalism, but this word can mean a broad range of different things and isn't specific enough.
In general, fatalism means that a person believes that a person believes that most or all events in their life are predetermined by fate. But in hypochondriacs who feel that their illnesses or deaths are predetermined, they may not necessarily believe that other things in life are predetermined.
So "Final Destination Outlook" is a more descriptive phrase, since the Final Destination movies are focused on the scenario of people cheating death and then eventually worrying that it will return for them as if it's their fates.
Even though the Final Destination series was just fictional movies and there is no proof that death actually comes back for people, there's still many out there who have this type of feeling within them after a brush with death. So they may irrationally worry about more bad things happening to them later down the line.
Media or Awareness Programs
Often times, a person will suddenly start to worry about their health after they hear or watch something related to health, such as an informational video on the health effects of smoking. After hearing about cancer and seeing the effects of it on TV, someone may start to become paranoid and worry that they too are at a high risk for cancer or have developed it.
In another scenario, they may see a commercial advertisement for a lawyer who specializes in class-action suits against pharmaceutical companies. The commercial may warn about the health effects of a certain pharmaceutical drug and asks people who have taken the drug to call the attorney immediately to see if they qualify to be involved in a lawsuit against the company that makes the drug.
A simple one-minute commercial like this can trigger a person's health concerns and cause them to become paranoid and worried about every pharmaceutical drug or vitamin they ever took, or can even make them scared to take their own medication which their doctor has prescribed.
The side effects of the drugs named in the advertisement may also become concerns of theirs, to where they heard about kidney problems and then become concerned that they too have these problems. So even though some informational things in life are meant to educate people and spark awareness, this itself can trigger a mental illness in certain people.
Naturally, when you get older, you start to notice your health declining. It happens in subtle ways such as a person's hair slowly going grey or thinning out, or their skin developing wrinkles. But small changes like this can trigger a person's hypochondria into a situation that is similar to a midlife crisis.
If someone reaches the age of 40 and realizes they're suddenly older than they thought they ever would be, they may start to panic and worry about getting sick or dying.
If they had a family member who died at the age of 55, for example, this may cause them to start worrying about their health as soon as they start to approach the same age, regardless of what their average life expectancy is.
For most illnesses, a person's odds of developing a disease or health problem increase with age. Sometimes, being aware of this, is what can set off a chronic case of hypochondria in someone who wasn't previously affected by it.
A woman may realize that breast cancer happens more often to older women. She may read an article that her risk of developing breast cancer jumps from .43% in her 30's to 4% in her 60's. As she reaches her 60's, she may start to obsessively worry about this, even though her fears are entirely based on the article she read and not based on any real symptoms or doctor assessments.
Other Mental Disorders
Sometimes hypochondria can be a secondary mental illness that may point to a more serious illness such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Anxiety, OCD, and a wide range of other mental illnesses sometimes cause a person to develop hypochondria and this may be one of the first signs that a person has one of these other disorders.
There's some disorders that cause feelings to become magnified such as depression and bipolar disorder and this in turn can cause rational fears of health concerns to become irrational as these fears themselves become magnified and a person feels them tenfold.
Drugs, Tobacco, and Alcohol
When it comes to hypochondria and alcohol or drugs, there's many connections that can be made. Drugs and alcohol can trigger this disorder for different reasons. The easiest way they trigger is by causing anxiety in a person when they aren't using these substances.
It's no secret that most people who smoke cigarettes begin to get irritable and have increased stress when they haven't had nicotine within a few hours. The same goes for coffee drinkers who are withdrawing from coffee and those who are withdrawing from other drugs or alcohol.
This mental stress can cause anxiety and anxiety can often trigger hypochondria. This can simply be a temporary episode which goes away as a person's brain adjusts back to sobriety and returns to normalcy, or can even cause a lifelong disorder.
Drugs and alcohol can also trigger hypochondriasis when a person realizes that these are unhealthy lifestyle choices and begin to worry about their health. A person who smokes crack cocaine may constantly worry about having heart problems even after quitting it's use because they realize that it has a negative effect on the heart which can cause problems later in life. The same goes for a person who smokes cigarettes and worries about lung cancer long after they've quit.
Feelings of guilt can easily lead to hypochondriasis when a person feels they've done something bad. They may believe in karma or have feelings of impending doom because they have a perception that they deserve to get sick or die for doing bad things.
This can actually be tied into a person's religious beliefs as some religions teach that a person will suffer karma in this life for things they've done, while others teach that their karma or punishment will happen in the next.
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