Differentiation to the Münchhausensyndrom
A completely different clinical picture, which should not be confused with that of hypochondria, is the Münchhausensyndrom. Here, complaints are only given because the "victim" has other goals in mind, such as an early retirement or insurance benefits. Others simulate without being aware of the motives.
People with the Münchhausensyndrom play the most serious illnesses deceptively real and force a medical treatment - sometimes even dangerous interventions. Often they seek attention, care and sympathy in this way.
Impact on social environment
Excessive involvement with physical ailments can easily become chronic and thus a lasting personality trait. The problem arises when the constant concern for one's own health affects social life.
Hypochondriacs often expect special consideration from partners, friends and even children. If they do not get it, they often get frustrated with their bodies and their own suffering. The professional or school performance drops - about ten percent of hypochondriacs are even incapacitated for work in the long term.
Behavior therapy in hypochondriacs
However, if those concerned are ready to see their fears as a result of mental illness, and to confide in a psychiatrist, for example, cognitive behavioral therapy can help. As many as six outpatient one-on-one sessions are said to bring an improvement, according to studies by American scientists.
The Clinic for Clinical Psychology of the University of Mainz combines individual and group discussions. The chances of success of the approximately three months lasting therapy are according to own data according to 80 per cent. In particularly severe cases of hypochondria, inpatient therapy is suitable. Psychosomatic clinics offer programs for six to eight weeks.
Objectives of therapy for hypochondria
What all forms of therapy have in common is that patients learn to assess their symptoms realistically. Not every muscle spasm is the sign of a severe metabolic disorder.
In addition, they gradually incorporate behaviors into their daily lives that they have previously avoided. For example, they shake hands with strangers when they say hello, something they used to refuse for fear of contracting.
In the next stage, they try not to investigate every new zipper, whether not a serious illness could be behind it.
Dealing with hypochondriacs
Hypochondriacs rely on human proximity and distraction. And this works best in society. Partners, friends and relatives should be made to understand that they take him and his problem seriously and in no way dismiss the complaints as illusions.
For the patient is ill, even if his illness is not organic, but psychological. Relatives must encourage the hypochondriac to speak openly with the family doctor about his fears, and advise him against changing doctors too often. And even if it is not an easy task, the advice to seek professional help from a psychotherapist or psychiatrist is also important.
- MEDICAL-PSYCHOSOMATIC CLINIC BAD BRAMSTEDT, Tel: 04192 / 504-0 (Head Office), E-mail: [email protected]
- MEDICAL-PSYCHOSOMATIC CLINIC ROSENECK, Tel: 08051 / 68-0 (headquarters), E-mail: [email protected]
- POLICY INSTITUTE AMBULANT FOR PSYCHOTHERAPY OF THE JOHANNES GUTENBERGUNIVERSITÄT MAINZ, Tel: 06131/3 92 46 21, E-mail: [email protected]
- PSYCHOTHERAPY AMBULANCE MARBURG (PAM), Tel: 06421/2 82 - 3657 (Secretariat), E-mail: [email protected]