Beware of Cyberchondria

mas home careThe internet is an amazing tool. Never have people been able to have as much information at their fingertips as they do today, and tomorrow they will have even more. We use the web for work, entertainment, socialization, and research. For the health care arena, this means people are able to gain knowledge to promote healthy living and arm themselves with information regarding medical treatment. Unfortunately with the benefits also come the downfalls.  A common practice goes as follows: Not feeling well today? Google those symptoms and Voila! Thousands of search results will emerge onto your screen. Who needs a doctor when you can diagnose yourself? Think again, especially if you tend to be a hypochondriac.

Because of the vast array of health and medical information available over the internet, it is increasingly easy to develop a needless worry because you have found the worst case scenario. This latest form of hypochondria is being referred to as cyberchondria. Hypochondriacs are individuals who worry over an imagined illness. They exaggerate their symptoms. Even the slightest headache can become excruciatingly painful; leading them to think it’s a brain tumor. Hypochondria is clinically defined as lasting at least 6 months and causing significant distress.

Previously someone with hypochondria would need to read books or grill their doctor for possible diseases. A doctor would then be able to talk to them to try to relieve their stress and assure them they have no need to worry. With the rise of the internet they are now able to have an even greater number of possible illnesses without ever speaking to a medical professional. This makes it easier for the person to jump into a full blown obsession, constantly focusing on the disorder they believe they have.

You do not need to have hypochondria to become bitten by the cyberchondria bug. Many of us have found ourselves having a temporary neurotic moment of undue worry about some health related article we read or symptom we researched. The best thing is to judge the legitimacy of a site and follow up questions or concerns you may have with your physician. The internet is not a substitute for a medical office. Even reaching other health related subjects like New England home care should be followed up with personal interaction with professionals in the field. If you are someone who tends to be a worrier, it may be best to skip the search engine and divert those questions right to your home care nurse or doctor.

MAS Home Care provides in-home care services in Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Contact us today!

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