Excessive worrying about serious illness or believing minor symptoms indicate a severe illness is known as illness anxiety disorder, hypochondriasis, or health anxiety. Even after a medical examination, no serious medical condition may be found, despite the belief that physical symptoms are associated with a specific, serious illness. This anxiety can cause severe distress, disrupting daily life. Illness anxiety disorder is a long-term condition that may fluctuate in severity with age or during stress. However, psychotherapy and medication can help ease worries.
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) no longer recognises hypochondriasis as a separate diagnosis. Instead, individuals previously diagnosed with hypochondriasis may now be diagnosed with illness anxiety disorder, which focuses on fear and worry related to uncomfortable or unusual physical sensations that could indicate a severe medical condition. Somatic symptom disorder, a related disorder, is characterised by the focus on the disabling nature of physical symptoms such as pain or dizziness without the accompanying worry of a specific illness.