My Fear of Illness Is Killing Me

· February 9, 2019
Everyone has a fear of illness. It's one of the most universal fears, related to the fear of death or the fear of madness. Read more about it here!

Everyone has a fear of illness. It’s one of the most universal fears, related to the fear of death or the fear of madness.

A healthy person doesn’t want to die since their self-preservation instinct is intact. But sometimes, this fear of illness and death may become excessive. In turn, it may affect our health and complicate our desire to live.

It may be very difficult to lead a healthy life when your mind is drenched with fear of illness, pain, or death. Sometimes, the fear of death is so intense that it produces unbearable suffering. In the most extreme cases, it may lead to suicide.

The fear of illness is real

People who suffer from hypochondria are usually the ones we associate with this fear. This fear makes them anxious and pessimistic. They imagine a future full of pain, viruses, discomfort, and incurable diseases, among other things. Therefore, it’s common for them to adopt compulsive hygiene behaviors. For example, they may wash their hands many times throughout the day to regain a sense of control.

The medical term for people suffering from severe fear of illness is hypochondriac.

Another characteristic of hypochondriacs is their constant self-examination and preoccupation with their body. They interpret a small discomfort, a bodily sensation, or a skin blemish as a symptom of a serious or deadly illness. Furthermore, they submit their body to constant scrutiny, observing themselves through an imaginary magnifying glass that amplifies any speck they detect.

This causes them great anxiety, so they go to the doctor often. However, they’re filled with a constant doubt that stems from deeper insecurity. They don’t even believe when the doctor tells them that they’re fine.

They understand that their behavior isn’t normal. However, they still think that it’s logical to believe that their fears will come true.

When the disease is psychological

Hypochondriacs have a psychological disorder. However, they refuse to accept that they need to be treated for it.

Thus, they usually demand to get the most complicated tests and scans done, including X-rays, CT scans, electrocardiograms, etc.

The results of these analyses tend to not be good enough for them. Namely, they continue to believe that their discomfort has a cause. Therefore, they believe that their doctor just wasn’t able to discover what was wrong with them. On the other hand, they don’t believe that the drugs their doctor prescribes work. They read the pamphlets carefully and get scared of possibly suffering from the side-effects described in them.

If they decide to take the drug, which only happens on rare occasions, they suffer from the side-effects by mere suggestion. As a consequence, they change doctors frequently or consult many to compare their opinions before deciding on starting treatment.

Their world revolves around their fear of illness

Hypochondriacs also tend to buy and read medical encyclopedias or health websites. Some even attend medical conferences intended for doctors. They consult the encyclopedias or health websites every time they notice a minor symptom or when they hear about a disease that an acquaintance has contracted.

Talking about illness makes them anxious. But, on the other hand, it’s also their favorite topic of conversation, since it’s the one that interests them the most. In a way, their whole life revolves around their fear of illness and death.

Fear of illness, like most phobias, can be devastating and require medical attention.

Modern society, in which pain has less and less meaning, promotes the rise of hypochondriacs. This is because we live in a society that’s concerned with living comfortably, sometimes to a fault.

At times, the fear of illness has a real foundation. If so, the fear of dying can be frankly intense. It can even lead to a depressive disorder, as is the case of the terminally ill.

In short, the people who are afraid of disease’s lives revolve around that subject. Ironically, this keeps them from living a peaceful life. A good mental health professional can help treat hypochondriacs.

Pearlman, J. (2010). Hypochondria: The Impossible Illness. PsycEXTRA Dataset. https://doi.org/10.1037/e641322009-019