Paloma Nicoletti in Vice:
Let’s talk about fear, health and why so many of us have decided that sitting in front of the computer googling symptoms is a sensible thing to do. Let’s talk about the evenings we’ve spent boring ourselves and our friends with all manner of internet-derived self-diagnoses. Let’s talk about hypochondria. We live in a world where certain words and concepts are bandied about daily despite many of us lacking a medical background to make sense of them. We link symptoms with illnesses and try to come up with solutions without consulting professionals. We tell ourselves and others stories about our bodies and our health and everything that’s going wrong with them.
That kind of health anxiety may have led to you being labelled — or labelling others — as a hypochondriac. But what exactly is hypochondria? What are its symptoms, and what, if anything, can we do about it? We asked Santiago Levín, president of the Association of Argentine Psychiatrists (AAP) to fill in the blanks.
Santiago Levín: Daily language can change the meaning of technical medical terms. Think about obsessive compulsive disorder, for example. You might often hear people labelling themselves as having OCD, when in reality they just exhibit a few tics, or perhaps some repetitive behaviour. Hypochondria, in a strict sense, isn’t just being a bit worried about your health. It isn’t being a bit scared of getting a serious illness. Neither is it a case of feeling worried about your health in the middle of a world-changing pandemic. Health anxiety in a situation like the one we’re living through is normal, appropriate, and expected.