There is no evidence needed to show that using “Google” as our friend, a doctor, a teacher in short everything has become prevalent in recent years. It is estimated that more than 100 million of us use internet users face health-related issues.
Internet interface has become so convenient that we tend to treat it as our doctor and consult it for every little issue. People can find information on any disease, its symptoms, causes, and cure all at one place free of cost, and also it is easily understandable coming from various expert sources, hence becoming the trend.
Recent studies have shown that the number of health-related information seekers has increased from 18% in 2007 to 51% in 2016 UK alone. This report is higher than that of any e-commerce or blogging websites.
Obviously, there are benefits of it such as you get educated about many diseases, symptoms, and treatment. But on the contrary, it also increases anxiety about any minor sign and cases of self-diagnosis which can be fatal at times.
Also, the time spent by a person searching about health-related issues is much more than the person having no such issues. Scientists have given a word to define such repeated online research about any health associated suspicion which is known as CYBERCHONDRIA.
What is Cyberchondria?
Cyberchondria is the excessive anxiety of a person about his or her health which is supported by heightened anxiety and psychological disorders. It is much more than the normal tendency to search on the internet about health issues.
Every online research related to health is not cyberchondria, the difference lies in symptoms and their consequences. Such interest in these issues becomes a habit that ultimately leads to severe levels of anxiety.
Cyberchondria is not a disorder it is an abnormal behavior pattern. It boosts up the worries and fears relating to the future outcome of the disease which can increase to an extent that it can distort our daily functioning.
Symptoms of cyberchondria
According to exerts, searching, or trying to gather more and more information bout your disease or and health disorder, minor or major only leads to serving your illness. This restlessness only makes a home in our minds. It is like hosting another disease in your mind.
Symptoms of cyberchondria are:
- You will find your search history filled with medical-related issues searches.
- You at least 3-4 times a day on your internet about diseases.
- You are extremely concerned about your health and fear a lot about acquiring any new health-related issue.
- Any health-related information fills you with anxiety.
- You worry about small or normal symptoms or any abnormality in your health and check them immediately online.
- You seem actually medically healthy but with these searches, you always keep thinking that you must be suffering some of the other diseases.
If you find yourself with all these symptoms then you must seek medical help and get yourself checked.
How cyberchondria affects us?
Cyberchondria can take up an ultimate toll on our lives. This anxiety health-related searches may ultimately lead to insomnia, reduced appetite, medication, self – diagnosis, several doctor visits, persisting thoughts of getting medical tests done, worries about getting any serious disease, reassurance, depressed mood, etc.
Cyberchondria is our inability to control the behavior of such online research. It makes people impulsive.
Repeated searches for any problem to get clarity can increase the overall health anxiety. An anxious person always craves for reassurance and due to uncertainties related to excessive thinking and worry.
In a health-conscious person, worries revolve around health concerns which can even be imagined and such reiterated searches nurture these worries. If these worries go unchecked it may cause more anxiety.
Such a person can get involved in the cycle of worries and anxiety as any new piece of information may bring him some conclusion and remedy but with that, it also gets new discrepancies.
Such discrepancies can stimulate discomfort and distress at such a level that he or she may need professional help to heal the underlying worry.
Surprisingly, people with Cyberchondria only believe in physical causes and not concerned about the mental ones. They prefer to go to a physician rather than a psychologist.
Such neglect can only lead to a delay in treatment and not relief. It may give rise to some compulsive disorders and mental illnesses, panic attacks, and depression thus complete health care is a necessity.
How to overcome cyberchondria?
It is very important to track the early symptoms of cyberchondria. There is no doubt that the internet does help us in seeking information. However, with so much information available with no credibility one can easily get confused and misguided.
It is very easy for a layperson to become a victim of misinformation. And when the issue comes of your health one can not take the risk of being casual and have to be serious. Thus it is always advisable to seek medical help and go to professional doctors when the question of your health arise.
There are some ways by which one can overcome the symptoms of cyberchondria in earlier stages.
- Try to indulge in other activities. Try new activities. Anything which interests you, something you always wanted to do. In short, all the time that you waste using the internet tries to make it productive. Art, dance, sing, paint, just do what makes you happy.
- Time your internet usage. Minimize the amount of time in using the internet.
- Indulge yourself in some physical activity. Exercise helps a lot in keeping the mind stable.
- Meditate. Meditation is very effective in dealing with stress and anxiety-related issues. Try to calm your body with the help of meditation.
- You can also go for some therapies and take the help of therapists and psychoanalysts.
- Listen to meditative music to calm up your body. Maybe music therapy can work for you. There is no harm in giving a try.
Try all these easy hacks and remember you will be able to overcome it.
Last but not least, always check the credibility of anything you read online. Make smart use of technology.