After a small cold that has extended its stay to a week, you jump on the internet. Googling every small symptom and accepting the first and wildest result that pops on the screen. And stress yourself over an ill-informed answer. Most often than not, it’s a roulette of 3 of the worst medical conditions to ever exist and your symptom somehow fits it! The resulting anxiety, panic and acknowledgement that you are “doomed” is not a healthy thing. The condition that refers to a person’s anxiety about their health that is created by using the internet to search for medical information is known as Cyberchondria.
TC46 connected with General Physician Dr Sanjay Shah from Fortis Hospital in Mumbai to get expert advice on cyberchondria and its effects. Here, he talks about the causes, signs and how can one seek professional help when diagnosed with cyberchondria.
1. Cyberchondria And It’s Rise During Covid19
Cyberchondria is also known as Compucondria, which is the Accelerated Anxiety-Neurosis Syndrome based on the review of the search results and available literature online, primarily related to health issues. Cyberchondria is surely a growing concern, as now anyone can research all of their symptoms online for any illness.
There been a rise of cyberchondriacs during the COVID-19 crisis primarily due to:
- Restricted face-to-face interactions in COVID times
- Requirement to spend more time at home due to COVID restrictions
2. Cyberchondria Is More Likely To Affect The Youth
People with depression and anxiety are more likely to experience Cyberchondria. First-time mothers are more prone. It is more likely to affect the younger population. Also prevalent in people whose loved one has passed away.
Signs to know if you are cyberchondriac:
- You check health information website to get relief from anxiety
- The time you spend checking health symptoms online is interfering with your life
- You seek reassurance from the people in chat rooms or on social networks
- You see your doctor more than your friends
3. Cyberchondria Affect One’s Well-Being
A fixation or even obsession over being sick can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. It generally leads to higher degrees of stress, which in turn can cause elevated blood pressure, headache, muscle tension and a weekend immunity system.
4. Cyberchondria And Its Relation With Other Illnesses
Cyberchondria is positively associated with health anxiety and Obsessive Impulsive Neurosis. It produces more health worries/ issues and impulsive behaviours. There are plenty of online services available to counter cyberchondria like Medlive Plus (overall health information), DailyMed (drug information), Mayoclinic and John Hopkins (medical procedures), NIH Office of Dietary Supplements (dietary supplements).
5. Seeking Professional Help For Cyberchondria
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often effective in treatment. You should also,
- Schedule routine check-up with your healthcare provider
- Live a healthy lifestyle
- Practice meditation to reduce anxiety
- Limit your online search
- Arrange meetings with the counsellor
- Check-in with your mental health
Importantly, before performing a search online, always ask yourself if you can find reliable health advice elsewhere.
TC46 Recommended 5 Natural Remedies For Anxiety
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) has given positive results when applied to patients suffering from these two mental conditions. Also, the drugs most commonly used against anxiety have also been proved effective against an array of anxiety disorders. However, if your condition is mild then you can resort to some self-monitored natural remedies alongside more conventional medical therapies.
1. Set A Routine And Follow It Like A Regime
If you’re depressed, following a routine is a starter to combat it. Routine gives you a structure and a sense of control. It allows you to create space for all your tasks, prioritise them, and take time out for self-care. Anxiety can strip away the structure from your life. Follow a schedule and set up daily goals. The goals could be as small as waking up at a specific time or doing the dishes every other day or taking compulsory walks for half an hour every day. And as the days progress and you start feeling better, aim for more challenging goals. Setting up such small and achievable goals will help you to get back on track.
2. Make Workout A Priority On Your Daily To-Do List
Exercise burns off your anxious energy and has shown long-term benefits for people with anxiety and depression. Psychologists claim that regular exercise seems to encourage the brain to rewire itself in positive ways. You don’t have to run marathons to see the benefit, just taking a walk once a day will also help.
3. Utilise The Healing Power Of Meditation
You racing and negative thoughts can be slowed down with the help of a little meditation and yoga. Practising meditation and yoga regularly will help you to manage stress and anxiety. Mindfulness-based meditation has gained immense popularity recently as it’s highly effective for people suffering from mood disorders and anxiety.
4. Take Control Of Your Sleep-Wake Cycle
Anxiety will give you a tough time when it comes to your sleep-wake cycle. Remember too little sleep will make your depression and anxiety even worse. Try going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Avoid naps and ensure that you get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Inadequate or poor sleep can cause problems with your cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, and nervous symptoms.
5. Pen Down Your Anxious And Depressive Thoughts
Finding a way to express anxiety can make it feel more manageable. Some research suggests that journaling and other forms of writing can help people to cope better with anxiety. Similarly, pen down your thoughts whenever you are feeling low as it will help you to introspect and understand your emotions and motivations in a better way.