Hypochondriacs die earlier than those who worry less about their health

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On average, worriers died five years younger than those who worried less. Photo: Pexels


(Stephen Hughes/ The Conversation) — People who worry excessively about their health tend to die earlier than those who don’t, a recent study from Sweden has found. It seems strange that hypochondriacs who, by definition, worry yet have nothing wrong with them, should enjoy shorter lifespans than the rest of us. Let’s find out more.

First, a word about terminology. The term “hypochondriac” is fast becoming pejorative. Instead, we medical professionals are encouraged to use the term illness anxiety disorder (IAD). So, to avoid triggering our more sensitive readership, we ought to use this term.

We can define IAD as a mental health condition characterised by excessive worry about health, often with an unfounded belief that a serious medical condition is present. It may be associated with frequent visits to a doctor, or it may involve avoiding them altogether on the grounds that a real and quite possibly fatal condition might be diagnosed.

The latter variant strikes me as quite rational. A hospital is a dangerous place and you can die in a place like that. (…)

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