Living with someone who has hypochondria

Someone who has hypochondria always thinks he has a serious illness. For example, they can interpret any form of itching, pain or cramps as a symptom of a disease. Medically speaking, there is usually nothing to indicate a disease. Hypochondria is a mental illness and it is an anxiety disorder. How someone deals with physical complaints also seems to be partly learned. It can be very difficult for a partner to deal with this.

What it is

People who have hypochondria often think they have a serious illness. They see every physical phenomenon, such as a twinge, cramp, itch or other form of normal physical symptoms, as a sign of illness. Sometimes they visit a doctor regularly, but nothing is found. The fear they feel over and over again can make the complaints worse. The fear can even cause them to develop physical complaints again, so that fear and the complaints keep aggravating each other. Hypochondria is an anxiety disorder. It can even lead to panic attacks.

The emergence

It is not always clear why this anxiety disorder arises. Sometimes it occurs more often in certain families. There is a possibility that a hereditary factor plays a role. Some people seem to be more susceptible to it than others. It may be that certain substances in the brain influence the feeling of fear and panic. Everyone has certain fears. It also depends on the way this is handled. Responding with fear seems to be partly learned. Experiences in life and upbringing also play a role in this.

Risk group

Although upbringing can play a major role, it often also depends on what you have experienced. It is not always clear whether the fear is the result or the cause of an event. Groups at risk for developing hypochondria are people to whom the following applies:

  • Being unemployed
  • Being depressed
  • People who are poorly educated or have little income
  • People who live alone
  • Addicts
  • People who have experienced something drastic

The symptoms of hypochondria

Someone with hypochondria is constantly checking their own body for aches, itches or stitches. With a headache, a person may think they have a brain tumor, or a heart condition with a small twinge in the chest area. Physical complaints are a reason to get anxious. Even if the doctor finds nothing, the fear of getting sick remains or returns in a short time. Sometimes the fear only becomes more intense. This can lead to the following complaints:

  • Palpitations
  • Becoming dizzy/fainting
  • Shivering
  • Feeling tingling in hands or feet
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Becoming short of breath
  • To sweat
  • The feeling of loss of control

If your partner has hypochondria

It can be very difficult if your partner has this anxiety disorder. Maybe you feel like it’s all about him/her or that he/she is showing off. It is difficult to reassure someone. It can help by softening the thought of a serious condition into a less serious condition. For example, palpitations do not always mean that there is something wrong with the heart, it can also be because someone is very busy. That is a normal physical phenomenon with anxiety. Don’t always be too strict and try to listen.


You can do this together with your partner, but also for yourself. You can do a lot to become less afraid of a serious illness. Try to determine for yourself when you feel fear and what physical symptoms you have. Write this down and describe what you feel and what complaints there are. See how you respond to the fear. Are you going to run away, lie in bed, drink alcohol or eat too much?

Think positive

Continue to practice replacing thoughts of a serious illness with a less serious thought. You can do this together with someone else you trust. Many people seek help from a psychologist. Take a critical look at yourself to see whether your thoughts about the serious illness are correct and whether you really have a reason to be afraid. By reasoning you can discover that the fear is unfounded. Think positively about it. Teach yourself that a physical phenomenon can also be something very innocent. Think of an innocent explanation every time you experience a physical complaint.

Find distraction

Try to find distraction at the time of the anxiety attack. Try to breathe calmly and relax your muscles. Don’t lie in bed or on the couch worrying, but go for a walk, exercise or call someone. If it concerns your partner, try to be understanding and do something fun together, for example. The person must learn to respond differently to fear and certain thoughts.

To the doctor

Don’t try to self-medicate for too long. If it does not improve, it is better to go to the doctor for help. If you have been keeping a diary, you can take it with you to review it together. He may advise you to continue with self-help and he can give you tips. You will probably have to make another appointment to tell us how things are going. Sometimes you are referred to a psychologist. Usually no medications are given.

read more

  • Self-care for anxiety: learn to adjust your thought pattern
  • Acceptance: how can you develop this?
  • Breathing techniques for a relaxed feeling