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Self-diagnosis: Boon or Bane? Know about Cyberchondria

Do you have the habit of emerging too deep into the internet for health solutions? Do you often surf the internet and convince yourself that a simple condition like a rash is skin cancer? Well, you might be suffering from cyberchondria.

What is cyberchondria?

Cyberchondria is the phenomenon wherein an individual assumes to have severe health conditions after self-diagnosing common symptoms on the internet. It is a growing concern as it often leads to unnecessary medical anxiety and panic.

Are you a cyberchondriac?

You may have cyberchondria if:

  • You fear to have various diseases. People with higher health anxiety fear to have at least 5 diseases while their low anxiety counterparts, feared to have less than 2.
  • You spend 1 to 3 hours per day on the internet, looking for symptom information. On an average, people with low health anxiety spend up to an hour researching common symptoms.
  • You tend to check the internet 3 to 4 times on the days you feel sick.
  • Your anxiety levels shoot up after researching for disease-related symptoms online.
  • You report to have more illnesses even though your health has not undergone any major changes.

Risks of cyberchondria

Cyberchondria entails the following risks:

Misdiagnosis or over diagnosis
Using the internet to diagnose your symptoms may lead to avoiding doctor visits. On the other hand, it may make you think there is more wrong with you than there actually is

Chances of missed diagnosis:
Self-diagnosing results in missing out on existing medical conditions. Matching symptoms is not the best way to deal with a health condition as many disorders have certain symptoms in

Potential risk of self-medication:
Self-medication poses risks such as use of incorrect medicines, excessive dosage, of prolonged duration of use, incorrect manner of administration and detrimental medicine interactions.

Possibility of unnecessary panic:
The internet misses out on simple but important details of diagnosis. This may create needless anxiety, stress, and fear. For example, people with mood swings can get diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In reality, mood swings can be a part of many different clinical scenarios, bipolar disorder being just one of them.

Negative impact on doctor-patient relationship:
Trust between doctor and patient can influence everything from the frequency of your doctor's visits to your self-care habits. Research states how well you get along with your doctor could even impact your overall wellness.

The human body is very complex and dynamic. Genetics and physiology of every individual differ, and so does their response to a disease. We urge you to consult a specialist instead of looking for a solution online.

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