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Could my hypochondria be OCD?
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Could my hypochondria be OCD?

Ever since I was a child I've been highly anxious about getting serious diseases.  I was born with a ventricular septal defect (very small and asymptomatic but I have to premedicate for dental work) and I had a younger sister who died of a similar but much more severe defect at 4 months of age, when I was about 3 years old.  I only have very vague memories of her presence but perhaps this spurred my later anxiety.  

Ever since my youth any symptom always made me fear cancer or some other dire disease. It got worse as I got older.  When I was 33 I came down with mysterious symptoms that apparently were chronic fatigue syndrome (sore throat, headache, fatigue) which lasted for about 3 years.  I decided in my darker moments that it might really be AIDS and lived in fear of having AIDS for about 10 years until I finally became pregnant by accident at age 42 and decided to bite the bullet and be tested for AIDS.  The pregnancy didn't work out but at least I finally found out I didn't have AIDS. You'd think that would make me happy, right?  No, of course not, because now I had nothing specific to concentrate on anymore so any disease is now fair game.  I could have cancer, liver disease, you name it!  

I worried about endometrial cancer for about a year because I had irregular bleeding (it was a polyp when I finally had a hysteroscopy for it).  I thought I had melanoma and had two perfectly good moles removed before I finally went to another dermatologist who was able to reassure me before I was covered with scars. Now I have a persistent pain in my stomach and am afraid it's stomach cancer (I go for an endoscopy next week).  There was a hot spell of weather a couple of weeks ago and my ankles swelled and I was sure it was either heart disease, kidney disease or lymphoma.  It went away but not before I called the doctor to ask about it.  He said it was the weather.  

I'm kind of facetious about this but in reality it is a serious problem for me because I'm constantly having these panic attacks when I notice a new symptom (right now I'm worried about a red bump on my ear that hurts).  And I'm sick of running to doctors.  I was wondering, would it be a good idea to go on an SSRI drug and see if it lowers my anxiety level about this stuff?  What is the best drug for OCD?  I want to be careful about my health and not ignore symptoms but I'm tired of being in a constant state of high anxiety.  My husband thinks I'm nuts.  

Please let me know anything you can about this.  By the way, my father is depressive and my half-niece (on my dad's side) is bipolar.  Also both grandpraents on my father's side were depressive, and one died in a mental hospital and the other committed suicide.  Thanks for any help you can give me.
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Avatar_n_tn
You describe what appears to be hypochondriasis, that is a preoccupation with the fear or belief of having a serious disease, despite adequate medical reassurance, resulting in significant distress, and personal/social impairment.

Hypochondriasis is quite different from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which is characterized by obsessions (recurrent and intrusive thoughts) or compulsions (recurring, conscious patterns of behavior, such as counting or checking).

I recommend that you seek psychiatric evaluation to help clarify your diagnosis. Group psychotherapy is the treatment of choice for hypochondriasis; medications will only alleviate hypochondriacal symptoms if there is an underlying anxiety or depressive disorder. OCD is usually treatable with a combination of behavioral therapy and medications such as the Serotonin Specific Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) e.g. Luvox, Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft.
4 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
I was exactly the same way.  If it wasn't one disease it was another.   As soon as I would stop obsessing about having something, I would start with something else.  I then went on Paxil and I've totally changed.  I no longer worry about illness anymore.  

I wouldn't ignore something serious, but I don't worry about stupid things, such as....if I got a headache, I'd wonder if I had a brain tumor.  

I really feel like a different person.
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Avatar_n_tn
That is me to a T. I am a 32 year old male who has had bouts with Hypochondria, of course I am gay and sexually active, thought not promisciuos and always safe.  Anyway, I have lived in fear of Aids for a while. But when i get my tests back , I am relieved for a while, then It turns into a different disease or impairment that I am afraid I might have or might get!!!! WHat am I avoiding by having these obsessive thoughts of disease and death????
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Avatar_n_tn
I'm the same.  And it is AIDS that scares me too.

Though it hasn't always been AIDS.  He has been diabetes, cancer, leukemia.  What ever I want.

Once I have the test and it comes back normal I am fine, but it always comes back.

I have finally made my first (second actually), appointment with a good therapist.  I can't wait to go.  I am actually scared of what it might bring out.

I would love to just take a pill to stop the panic and anxiety until I learn techniques to help me stop it naturally.

What are some of your experiences?
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Avatar_n_tn
Following an 18 month period of chronic headaches I have become totally terrified of serious illness. Partly due to the fact  was living in Germany but only spoke English it took years to finally realise my headaches were almost certainly caused by stress and associated muscle tension in my head and neck with some spheniodal sinitus thrown in to confuse me. However during that time I had numerous scans, read lots of books and started to learn all sorts of nasty stuff about what can go wrong. A year later I had a mysterous groin pain, and a few differential diagnosis, this kicked of a sequence of symptoms, fears and treatments that have touched on every sinister descease I can imagine over a period of 3 years. I now have major problems, I suffer constant pain and have most of the symtoms (symptoms) of Fibromyalgie. I also have heart palpatations and major attacks of chest pain that mimic heart attacks. I have been rushed off to hospital numerous times (just in case) including a helicopter trip. This was after I have even spent 5 months as an impatient being treated for heart neurosis, which I certaily have and can't shake off. My advice is get treatment as soon as possible before the fear and anxiety start to cause real physical symptoms, and it becomes a real viscious circle. I take Alprazopam and it has helped, but I think I was given this 3 years too late and all I am doing is standing still. If offered do anything to halt the fear and anxiety before it goes any further. Once you have real pain like I do, it will cause depression, it will cause more fear and will cause anxiety. Accept you have a problem and look for help. Good Luck.
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Avatar_n_tn
hello, i have been suffering from this since i was 11. I am now 31 years old and am still plagued by it. Other people will not take it seriously or think its kind of funny but they dont understand. Its deeply rooted in the fear of death, I feel. i have had every disease you can imagine; cancer, aids, neurological-muscular (ie MS, ALS). I have major deppression/bipolar with a schizotypol affect. I am on Paxil, Seroquel, which is wonderful, and Willbutrin. Doing pretty good with as I just started doing something about it just recently. I havent felt like this since I was about 15!  Before taking this stuff, I was totally delusional, paronoid, having panic attacks, heavily depressed, suicidal, mixed with periods of being completely estatic, happy, thinking that the way i was before was so far away and then BAM, delusional again, paronoid, completely believing i was dying. I still think about the diseases esp the really life threatning ones, but tI dont believe it anymore, and I can quickly put them aside or dismiss them.
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Avatar_n_tn
Pardon me, but it feels so good o know that ppl have same problems as I do. I guess my hypochondria has it's roots in my mother beeing a doctor and a 6-tome medical encyclopedia in sinister black hardback we still have (if you have one of those, hide it from your kids).
I was fine untill a couple of months ago, when I woke up with a lump in my anus the size of a pea that hurt like hell. I looked it up in THE BOOK and came across anal cancer! Imagine my panic. Naturally, I started palpating myself all over and found a couple of tendons on the edge of my rib cage that were painfull (in hindsight I believe it was all that palpating). Right, so now there was liver and lung cancer to panic about (the lump has shrunk after I applied some hemorrhoid cream). Then, after all the deep breathing to find any strange wheezing noises I could, I found that I had some serious pains in my back. I am a photographer and ussually lugg a heavy bag with equipment around, but why diagnose a strained back when you can think of lung CANCER, right? Oh yeah, I've had a bit of a sore throat so why not panic about throat cancer as well.

Anyhow, the best therapy I found was a long talk with a good friend who has had the same problem, rest from work and keeping myself occupied doing things I like best, like long walks and taking pictures for pleasure only. Oh yeah, and staying away from the things like THE BOOK.

Good luck ya all

Vladan

PS
Wanna talk more? Mail me at ***@****
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi
I believe I have this hypochondriasis and not the OCD that I am being treated for.
I have a fear of oral cancer, only this, nothing else.
I am always looking in the mirror to see the inside of my mouth, and am forever feeling for lumps in my mouth as well.
My father died of this mouth cancer, and I had a scare two years ago at the dentist when he found a white patch inside my mouth (it cleared up on its own within 2 days) (pizza burn) This frightened the life out of me and I have been scared to death ever since. I am on Prozac 40Mg daily but it does'nt seem to be working as I am still worrying, I found a very small lump on the inside of my cheek (cannot see it only feel it) I shot up the doctors like I always do, he said it was nothing at all, some gland or something. thing is I don.t believe him, I still think this lump is cancer. I'm a no-hoper by the look of it.
rs  
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Avatar_n_tn
I've had a history of anxiety disorders of various kinds since I was 9 years old.  I received treatment as a child for GAD and had peace of mind for 15 years.  Last year, after I got married, I began to notice a recurrence of GAD symptoms.  Then, after a few months, the symptoms became centered around the fear of having skin cancer.  Several people I worked with had been diagnosed at that time (one was terminal...he died a month ago), and I guess this provided a trigger. I went to several doctors, had a skin biopsy done, and started seeing a psychotherapist to treat what I felt was an unreasonable fear of disease.  After the tests came back negative from the doctor, I felt much better and began taking Serzone.  Three months later, I became obsessed with the belief that I had colon cancer, luekemia, throat cancer, etc.  The symptoms had returned with a vengeance and the Serzone was doing nothing.  I went back to the psychiatrist and she told me that she suspected my problems were closer to OCD than GAD and prescribed Prozac.  I am now taking 40mg of Prozac a day, and the difference is huge.  I never went to a medical doctor for tests, but my fears of cancer faded away by themselves.  I've been on Prozac for about 8 weeks and will soon reach 60mg a day.  Therapy has been good for dealing with the emotional trauma, but the medication has really been helping the most.  

The lesson from all of this is that help is out there.  Its tough when you start taking the meds, waiting for a result, but just hang in there.  If the problem is OCD related, the Prozac should work wonders.
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear all,

I want to thank you all for sharing your stories and personal experiences; I'm relieved to hear that I'm not the only one who is going through this.

I've been absolutely tormented with my body since I was 11 years old. I was sexually abused by my father, and though I have rationalised that I've got over that and what's done is done, I do wonder if this lies at the heart of having such a bad relationship with my body - it is constantly persecuting me!

I have become extremely paranoid - it is difficult to describe, but I'm even projecting my own self-image of being unwell with something, onto others. Does this happen to anyone else? It is really embarrassing for me to admit, but the way that this manifests itself is that I imagine, that anyone looking at me for any space of time, is looking at me with concern because I look sick with something that they know the symptoms of. Perhaps they could be looking at that raised mole on my forehead and know that it is something really bad etc. etc. I even mishear (or hear?) people in ways that confirm my own suspicions. Cripes, this is hell. It is hell not merely because of my constantly thinking about my body, but because it conflicts with my own self-image. I'm generally someone who looks after other people and their needs, someone who is genuinely interested in the well-being and happiness of other people - i'd like to think of myself as a kind person who respects each individual and wants them to know that they are important. Yet doesn't this kind of behaviour conflict with that? Rather it would seem that I'm massively selfish and self-obsessed...

Nevertheless, I cannot tell you how empowering it is just to know that there are others out there feeling the same kinds of anxieties, worries - the same torment. I hope for you all that you beat this thing. And on the basis of what I have read here, I will seek help for what appears to be either OCD or hypochondria - whichever of these it is (they are both labels after all) as long as I don't feel the same entrapment in my body as I am feeling now, I'll be a happier person.

Thanks for allowing me the space to talk freely about this. That helps too!
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Avatar_n_tn
I have also suffered from OCD, or hypochondria, not exactly sure which one, I have obsessed over mouth cancer, breast cancer, brain tumers,you name it..about a month ago my husband was told that he has to have surgery to remove part of his colon, and my mom died of colon cancer at age 65mm anyway i went with him for his fourth colonoscopy and i started feeling sick,(had my period) so brished it off., still had some nausia the next day, and he had to go to the hospital , because he was getting another infection. I couldnt even drive him there since it was another town away, my anxiety was so high and i really thought that if i went i would die of stomach and anxiety. so we had a friend drive him. that night i felt so guilty, but they released him and all seemed well, then the next day i still had the gas pains in my stomach, and they wouldnt go away..no other symptoms just gas..finally went to doctor, he said it could be collitus because when he pressed on my left side it hurt, ofcourse he was pressing so hard that the right side hurt too, but collitus stuck in my head for days and off to the internet i went, i forgot that he also said that it is probably anxiety and he put me on lexipro, which also gave me side effects that would mimick stomach cancer or gallbladder disease. all  i kept thinking was that i has to have my gallbladder removed and how would i do that when i am terrified of being put to sleep. then i started getting diahrea that seemed kind of mucousy and i remembered that he said that that could be a symptom of collitus, so my mind went back to that. went back to doc, and he said if you're that worried about it then get a colonoscpy. Well that was all i needed to hear now i had colon cancer in my mind..since my mom had it, so did i..the symptoms that i read about were not that horrible as i had hoped and i do not have all of them but gassy stomach and stool changes lead me to beleive that maybe i only have some..to make matters worse, i am also terrified of a colonoscopy..the lexipro just makes me drowsy every afternoon but i still worry..glad i found this web-site..
                                                               Tara
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Avatar_n_tn
I have been obsessing for many years as well.  Any little lump, i.e. a pimple under my armpit, that I automatically assume is cancer, an occasional pinch in the chest that must be heart disease, a cough that is absolutely lung cancer (in my mind).  How do I get these thoughts out of my mind.  I have even began projecting these fears onto my children.  My daughter had a swollen lymph node behind her ear, and I brought her to the emergency room in the middle of the night just to be told that it was a swollen lymph node, went away a couple of days later.  I have been on paxil for six years then lexepro for another six, but I still have these symptoms.  Right now I am suffering from joint pain, which I have convinced myself is lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.  All of these thoughts cause recurrent panic attacts. They make it difficult to work, and to function at all.  I am so consumed with myself that it takes away from my family and keeps me from living.  I wish there was a cure. No on really takes it seriously.
Thanks for listening.
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