A child who has Health Anxiety wrestles with a preoccupation with having or getting a serious illness or condition. He or she often misinterprets naturally occurring sensations as evidence of illness.
Consequently, the child might become easily alarmed about his or her health and might engage in excessive checking behaviors. For example, he or she might insist on frequent visits to medical professionals or want his or her temperature taken far more often than necessary. Some children adopt a decidedly different attitude and avoid medical attention at all costs because of a fear of what might be discovered. They also dislike talking about what ails them and dodge questions about their health.
Even when a child has a legitimate illness or condition, the degree of worry and related checking behaviors are far more extreme and time consuming among those children who suffer from Health Anxiety. For them, the stress is ongoing, excessive, uncontrollable and physically draining. It also significantly impacts their quality of life.
Although Hypochondriasis is not technically considered an Anxiety Disorder, it is included here because it shares the pervasive feelings of excessive, irrational fear and distress that characterizes other Anxiety Disorders.
Hypochondriasis is when one is preoccupied with fears of having – or the belief that one already has – a serious disease. These fears are based on a misunderstanding of normal bodily symptoms or of a minor physical problem. The preoccupation persists even after a comprehensive medical exam reveals that no medical condition exists.