Hypochondria, or health anxiety, is excessive worrying about contracting or being affected by serious illnesses. The concerns are usually strong, difficult to control and recurring, despite studies showing that you are healthy and not at risk. 


APPOTEK can help with Hypochondria via consultations with doctors, psychologists and referrals.


Health anxiety manifests as the patient interpreting symptoms of common illnesses as signs of a serious illness. This may mean, for example, that a common headache is interpreted as the symptom of brain tumor; or stomach pain as a symptom of gastric cancer.


For some people, the concerns revolve around several different diseases, while others worry incessantly about the same disease. 


Diseases commonly feared by hypochondriacs are:


  • cancer
  • heart disease
  • neurological disorders (diseases affecting the nervous system), such as multiple sclerosis.


Common behaviors of hypochondriacs can be divided into two main groups – avoidance and control behavior:


  • Avoidance means that you avoid situations, places, people or activities that may cause anxiety/concerns. For example, in the case of health anxiety, it may be avoiding sick friends, exercising or physical activities, for fear of contagion.


  • Control behaviors are things you do when you feel anxious and nervous about having a serious illness, to reduce anxiety. In the case of health anxiety, common control behaviors are: controlling or inspecting your body in different ways, seeking information about symptoms online, seeking medical care several times for the same symptom, even though the doctor assures you there is nothing wrong, or asking relatives repeatedly about your symptoms.

Health anxiety in children and adolescents

Children with a parent suffering from health anxiety have a greater risk of having it themselves, even than children with close relatives who are ill or have passed away.

Causes of health anxiety

Why some suffer from health anxiety is not entirely clear, but heredity and psychological factors can play a role. Various life events, such as the death of a close relative or becoming a parent, can also trigger health anxiety. Health anxiety can sometimes be a component of other mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety syndrome.

Causes of health anxiety

As all cases are individual, it is best to follow the advice of a psychologist given you in therapy. But in general, you can also:


  • avoid caffeine
  • try to avoid stress
  • keep up physical activity, which helps with anxiety.
  • stop smoking
  • sleep enough
  • train yourself to let the anxiety be there and not panic – it often goes away by itself without you having to do anything about it.


Contact a psychologist for help with treatment that is right for you. Exposure, response, prevention and conscious presence are the psychological methods that can give good results in the treatment of health anxiety.


In some cases, therapy may be supplemented with antidepressants, but only after individual assessment by a doctor.

When to consult a doctor

Seek help if you are overly worried about illnesses and have anxiety.

How APPOTEK can help

  • Consulting
  • Psychological treatment
  • Individual assessment of doctors and prescriptions if necessary

Valeria Chernikova, Neurologist, M.D.