Advice for Living with a Hypochondriac

Health problems come with many stressors. Aside from the illness or disease itself, you may face home or workplace problems or financial stressors. True health problems, from minor to major, create bumps in the road. When a loved one is sick, it’s easy to approached the illness with patience and compassion. It’s not as simple, though, if you’re living with a hypochondriac.

What is Hypochondriasis?

Hypochondriacs are individuals who are convinced they have an undiagnosed medical problem. These individuals go from doctor to doctor getting test after test to confirm their perceived illness. Unfortunately, they’ll never receive the answer they’re looking, for unless they visit a psychologist.

Hypochondria is considered a mental illness and is categorized as an obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’s believed to be caused by an imbalance of the neurotransmitter serotonin and other chemicals in the brain. The instigating factor is often anxiety or depression, and the only known forms of treatment include medications or cognitive behavioral therapy.

You know you’re dealing with a hypochondriac when you witness any of the following signs. The individual…

  • talks non-stop about their health.
  • constantly checks for problems with their body.
  • spends an inordinate amount of time researching diseases and symptoms.
  • visits the doctor frequently, or more than one doctor, or doesn’t go to the doctor at all despite frequent complaints.
  • avoids places they fear will get them sick.

Tips for Living with a Hypochondriac

Living with an undiagnosed hypochondriac can be a true challenge and test of your relationship. You may experience frequent disturbances to normal living, like your partner canceling plans, calling into work, failing to complete household chores or not engaging in life in any healthy way.

Your partner’s choices ultimately affect you. So here’s what you can do about it.

1. Provide support.

First, give your partner a chance. Maybe something is wrong. Take them to the doctor; even get a second opinion. If doctors officially rule out physical health problems and the anxiety persists, then encourage your partner to see a psychologist.

2.  Learn what you can.

Educate yourself on hypochondriasis. If you don’t know what’s going on, then it’s difficult to approach the problem from a detached standpoint. You risk getting caught up in the swirl of anxiety.

3. Attend support groups.

It’s preferable you do this with your partner. When you connect with others in similar situations, you can learn what works well for others. You can see and feel that you’re not alone on this journey. That type of support can often make the biggest impact.

4. Do some self-reflection.

What role have you played in enabling your partner’s anxieties? Take an honest look at your relationship. Where can you take responsibility for yourself and disentangle yourself from your partner’s behavior? When you clarify this piece within yourself, you’ll naturally disallow your partner from entangling you in their problems. This positions you to provide firm but caring support in their journey to wellness.

5. Set boundaries

When you become disentangled you’re able to set healthy boundaries. Maintaining your own mental health  is paramount. Learn to provide a compassionate ear while being unafraid to ask for space when you need it. You can provide support without engaging the illness and take a stand for your partner getting the help they need.

You don’t have to deal with challenges such as hypochondriasis alone. It’s vital that you seek support in some form. Often you’re so enmeshed in the problem you can’t get enough space to see the next right steps. That’s where an outside individual or group comes into play. Once you can create distance, then you can create solutions.

Image via Getty Images

37 comments

Thomas M
Thomas M21 days ago

Thank you

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Gino C
Past Member 21 days ago

Thanks you for sharing

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson22 days ago

Thank you.

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Ruth S
Ruth S22 days ago

Thanks.

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Ruth S
Ruth S22 days ago

Thanks.

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Melanie S

Thank you for sharing.

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Renata K
Renata Kovacs22 days ago

I think it is sad to live like This also I think makes harder for people when Health Matters are everywhere via Radio,Newspapers TV internet I am not surprised people tend to worry ..Thoughtful post thank you to share....

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Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohn22 days ago

Many thanks to you !

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Danuta W
Danuta W22 days ago

thank you for posting

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Barbara S
Barbara S23 days ago

thank you

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