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對健康的焦慮

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對健康的焦慮 Health Anxiety

Suffering minor aches and pains is a normal part of being human. Our bodies constantly exhibit mild signs of discomfort, and usually we ignore these as being what they are—nothing serious. But what if every tiny ache, every twinge of pain, and every harmless ailment was, in your eyes, the sign of a terminal illness? That’s the kind of mental torment sufferers of health anxiety, or hypochondria, have to deal with on a permanent basis.

Hypochondriacs are constantly afraid that they may have a terrible disease and become obsessed with checking their bodies for symptoms. Even the most innocuous symptoms can, to a health anxiety sufferer, lead to a cycle of obsessive behavior, driving them insane with worry. To a sufferer, a cough is sure to be lung cancer, a headache is a brain tumor, and stomach pains most certainly are proof of an ulcer.

According to some statistics, six percent of patients who visit doctors have health anxiety and not only do they cause themselves undue distress, they also take up unnecessary amounts of doctors’ time and medical resources. The problem has gotten worse since medical information has become readily available on the Internet. Hypochondriacs are now able to find obscure diseases that seem to fit their symptoms, and they convince themselves that they are one of the rare sufferers.

It’s important to note that hypochondriacs do not make up their symptoms. But while the symptoms may be real, their exaggerated self-diagnosis is often the problem.

The condition has been linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder, a form of anxiety that makes people obsess about the tiniest things and exhibit bizarre behavior as a result, like turning light switches on and off times before they leave the room. The same kind of obsessive behavior is thought to be at the root of health anxiety.

One of the main problems doctors have in treating hypochondriacs is that they often don’t trust doctors’ advice and, even when constantly assured that they are not sick, will still be doubtful. Doctors usually refer health anxiety cases to behavioral therapists who can better help patients come to terms with their condition.


對人類來說,身體會有輕微的酸痛與疼痛是很正常的。我們的身體經常會有輕度的不適症狀,通常我們會予以忽略,因為只是不舒服而已,沒什麼大不了的。但是,若是每一次的小痠痛、每一次的劇痛、每一次無關緊要的病痛,在你的眼裡都是身患絕症的跡象呢?這就是健康焦慮患者(或疑病症患者),永遠都要面對的精神折磨。

疑病症患者會不斷地擔心自己可能罹患了可怕的疾病,並且會檢查自己的身體,一心想要找出症狀來。對健康感到焦慮的患者來說,即使是最無害的症狀,也會導致周而復始的強迫行為,他們都快要被煩惱給逼瘋了。對患者來說,咳嗽絕對是肺癌,頭痛是腦部有腫瘤,胃痛肯定是胃潰瘍。據統計,就醫的病患中有6%對健康感到焦慮,他們不僅造成自己不必要的困擾,也佔用醫師不必要的時間與醫療資源。

自從網路上的醫療資訊唾手可得後,問題變得更嚴重了。現在,疑病症患者能發現似乎與自己症狀符合的罕見疾病,並且說服自己是罹患罕病疾病的患者。

值得注意的是,疑病症患者可不是胡亂捏造自己的症狀。他們的症狀或許是真的,但是他們自己過度誇張的自我診斷,往往才是問題。

強迫疑病症通常與強迫症有關。強迫症是一種焦慮的形式,會讓人執著於最微不足道的小事上,結果出現怪異的行為。以開關燈為例,他們會開關十次燈,然後才會離開房間。相同類型的強迫行為被視為是健康焦慮的根源。

醫生在治療疑病症患者時,常遇到一個主要的問題:病人通常不信任醫師的意見,即使醫師已經再三保證他們根本就沒生病,病人還是很懷疑。醫師通常會將疑病症患者的個案轉介給行為治療師,因為他們更能夠幫助病人面對自己的症狀。

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