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Searching Symptoms on Internet & getting worried is a form of Anxiety

07 Sep 2016


In this modern day and age of technology, we not only turn to the internet for online gaming or movies but see it more of as a lifetime companion.

Remember the last time when you actually opened up a dictionary to search for the meaning of a word? Was it a year back, two years back or may be long enough for you to even recall!

With the advances in the technology we have not only have replaced books and colleges but are also in the process of  replacing humans, be it our friends, our teachers or even our DOCTORS! 


Doctors, may at once sound surprising! But the fact we’ve all done it: You have a symptom, say a persistent cough, and instead of reaching for the doctor either online or offline – you turn to your computer or iPhone and rely on the powers of Google to self-diagnose. No matter how general it may seem, it is a serious condition with serious consequences. In the following article I wish to cover to a very new yet common disorder called “CYBERCHONDRIA” or the Internet print out syndrome.


The term ‘cyberchondria’ started cropping up in newspapers around 2001, referring to anecdotal reports of patients bringing their doctors print-outs from the Internet. But the concept didn’t get a lot of attention until 2008, when computer scientists at Microsoft published a study describing its causes and consequences.


The researchers analyzed the search patterns of hundreds of thousands of people who used Microsoft search engines. About one-third of people searching for medical-related terms tended to “escalate” their searches, the study found, meaning that their search would ratchet up to more and more dire outcomes. An initial search of “headache,” for example, might be followed by “headache tumor” and then “brain tumor treatment.” And then we all know the end! All these researches leading to nothing but unending anxiety or persistent fear.


The term "cyberchondria" is derived from the terms “cyber” and “hypochondria”. It is defined as  the deluded belief that you suffer from all the diseases featured on the Internet or in simpler words “Cyberchondria” refers to excessive health anxiety generated by online searches.

Research suggests that90 percent of hypochondriacs who have access to the Internet become cyberchondriacs 


Symptoms of Cyberchondria

·         You Surf for Vague Symptoms

When symptom surfing, you concentrate on hard-to-diagnose, vague symptoms, such as fatigue, general muscle aches, headaches and strange physical sensations.


·         You Focus on the Worst Case Scenario

Your head hurts so you Google your symptoms. Instead of clicking on the search result that says itcould be a migraine, you hone in on the words: "brain tumor," "cancer" and "cerebral hemorrhage." Research suggests that one key symptom of Cyberchondria is that you easily believe you have -- or could have -- these rare disorders without taking into consideration the risk factors, prevalence and incidence of the disease or syndrome.


·         Your "Favourites" are Filled with Medical Search Results

Instead of links to recipes, yoga posescelebrity gossip or dream vacations, your favourites are littered with links to symptom checkers, dire disease symptoms and other medical listings


·         You Can't Remember the Last Symptom You or Your Family Experienced That You Didn't Research Online

You get the feeling that something is wrong and keep searching to prove your instinct right – because, well, when is it ever wrong?  Research suggests that women are particularly susceptible because they're typically the ones to keep track of their family's health.


· You Don't Let Up

Every search result confirms that it's just a migraine, but you're not convinced. "One tip off that a person has Cyberchondria is when they don't believe the search results that say they're ok, or don't have the serious disease," says Leiberman. "So they keep researching and surfing 'just to make sure' or to reassure themselves that there's a chance they're ok."


· You Feel Worse After You Get Off the Computer

After searching for information on your symptoms, you feel worse, not better. In fact, your symptoms may even become more dramatic or intense.


· It's Taking Over Your Life

Do you find yourself spending more time symptom-surfing than answering emails or making time for the people you love?Cyberchondriacs can spend hours surfing the web, since the number of sites and social media outlets that discuss symptoms are endless. This allows the Cyberchondriac to avoid other activities in her life, such as work, dating or doing the dishes.


Risks of Cyberchondria

Apart from inducing anxiety, cyberchondria poses certain risks.Cyberchondriacs may often be more inclined to buy into false treatments online. Not forgetting to miss the costs that comes with cyberchondria may be enormours-  both financial and health-wise – to misdiagnosing yourself. However, the biggest risk associated with obsessive Internet searches is arguably to your health because of the stress it causes. The big irony is that people tend to be less healthy when they are preoccupied with their health as opposed to exercising.


Tips Avert and Treat Cyberchondria

If you’re prone to health anxiety, there are certain things you can do to stave off cyberchondria.


· Make an appointment with your doctor. If you find yourself in an obsessive funk for more than a couple days, make an appointment to go see a doctor.


·    Have regularly scheduled doctors’ appointments at frequent intervals. If you have any concerns, you can bring them all at once.


·    Mute infomercials on drugs. Pharmaceutical companies are legally required to list all potential drug side effects, but when broadcast on television, the effect can be anxiety-producing. However, becoming aware of what makes you anxious is half the battle to overcoming cyberchondria.


·    Disengage from the virtual world. The Internet is 24/7, and constant health worry is exhausting for people. Encourage yourselves and people around you to put their phones down and be out living life. Distraction is often a marvelous thing when it comes to averting health concerns.


·  Don't Surf , stick with credible websites if you have to. Avoid generic questions and answers. e support group. Instead, consult credible websites such as those having well known doctors with good credentials answering to your queries. Best option still is to make an appointment with a doctor instead of relying on Dr.Internet. 

Recognise this, If you seek constant reassurance, get panicked,jittery and shaky for your and your family's health. If you try and justify past health issues that have happened in completely believing that the other serious issues have already happened to you or your family and you keep surfing in anxiety to find an answer that can negate your obsessive thought, then you may be suffering from what we call as health anxiety or hypochondria. 

It keeps you and your family members reassuring you completely stressed, sad and on the edge. The way to come out of this is Counseling. And we can help you 100% 

If you are facing these issues, then please do not hesitate to reach out to us at

Just Click the pink chat button and Type "Counseling to instantly connect with a psychologist and know more about process and charges for management of health anxiety. 

Tags: #healthanxiety #google doctor #cyberchondria