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Stop don’t Google – The Rise of Cyberchondria: CBT Can Help

Stop don’t Google – The Rise of Cyberchondria: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Can Help

The internet can be a great tool when used wisely. However, it can work against you when used wrongly. You may have heard of hypochondria or health anxiety, but what about Cyberchondria? The first half of the word gives a clue as to what it might mean…cyber. Here we take a look at just what it is, the symptoms that give an indication you might be suffering from it, the impact of it and how cognitive behavioural therapy can help.

What Is Cyberchondria?

Cyber, of course, is related to the internet, so in simple terms Cyberchondria is an unfounded escalation of concerns about symptoms, where a person becomes obsessed with making a search online to diagnose themselves, and it is on the rise.

Cyberchondria is on the rise due to the fact that it is so much easier to open a web browser and type in your symptoms than it is to book a visit to see a doctor. However, with the internet offering a wide amount of information on virtually every illness and disease you could think of, it is not always wise to go searching yourself. Illnesses such as cancer can have the same symptoms as an illness that is only minor, but straight away the worst case scenario is assumed.

Three Symptoms of Cyberchondria

There are symptoms that may determine if you have Cyberchondria and three of the main ones are:

1. Searching Health Information Sites To Ease Anxiety
If suffering from Cyberchondria you will be searching the internet looking for answers to any physical symptoms that you are experiencing. Checking symptoms often provide relief from anxiety about your symptoms, but the problem is that the relief is only temporary and quickly returns. The person then goes back to the internet searching again and it becomes a never ending circle.

2. Checking Symptoms Online Interferes With Your Life
One symptom of Cyberchondria is the amount of time spent searching symptoms online. The sufferer may search every day for symptoms and the searching may take over their life to the point where they do not think about anything else and it is the primary activity.

3. You Go To Chatrooms To Get Reassurance
You may find that you go to online chat rooms to get reassurance about your symptoms and you spend a lot of your time doing so to the point it becomes an obsession.

Impact of Cyberchondria and the Benefits of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Suffering from Cyberchondria can have a severe negative impact on your life. It might come to the point where the only thing you care about is going online to check your symptoms. Your social life and work life may suffer as you constantly focus and check symptoms in search of a diagnosis, which more often than not turns out to be the wrong diagnosis.

Cyberchondria can lead to anxiety building up and anxiety brings with it a whole host of other symptoms, which you then check and it becomes a vicious circle. Cognitive behavioural therapy can help someone suffering from Cyberchondria. Also known as CBT, a cognitive behavioural therapist can help in making changes for life in anyone suffering anxiety, depression, panic attacks and worry, all of which are brought on with Cyberchondria.

CBT is a very effective type of therapy as it deals with your feelings, thoughts and behaviour and how they impact each other. By working with a therapist you can learn how to develop a new understanding of what you experience and learn ways in which to move forward.

Cognitive behaviour therapy helps you to understand that you are suffering health anxiety and anxiety brings fear and CBT is able to treat fear effectively. A therapist can help you to make changes that will change your life for the better forever.

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Sarah Rees

Sarah is a fully accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and mental health writer delivering Modern Mental Health for you and with you in Mind. Sarah is the author of ‘The CBT Journal’ which helps you write for your wellbeing incorporating CBT techniques. For more information and to keep in touch have a look at sarahdrees.co.uk.