The news feed has been occupied by Covid-19 for quite a while now. Everywhere you look, there are new norms of work, research and living. At first, I found it helpful to research the topic as much as possible. But soon enough, the amount of information became overwhelming, and a similar sense of fear consistently returned.
When I was young, I read about an infectious disease that killed many people, much like Covid-19. With enough contemplation, I was sure that I had all the symptoms. I was sure my situation was horrible. Although this ‘disease’ did not turn out to kill me, my fear for all sorts of other diseases never stopped for the next five years. I feared hospitals, health checks and blood tests. But each time, the results turned out fine. I couldn’t believe how they still couldn’t figure out what’s wrong with me.
I had a loving family, but even they had trouble understanding my worries and list of potential diagnoses. I wish they would’ve been more supportive and took me to counseling. But unfortunately, I was on my own.
An Accurate Diagnosis
Finally, one day I came across a new diagnosis. My consistent list of worries fit closer to to the definition of a hypochondriac. Based on what I found, a hypochondriac is someone who lives with the fear of a critical, yet undiagnosable, medical condition. That was the closest match to my condition, and I was able to finally accept an accurate diagnosis of health anxiety.
It was a massive relief that I was not alone, and I did have a medical condition, a mood disorder. I wasn’t making it up!
Hypochondria affects about 5% of the medical care and more than 200000 people are diagnosed each year. I would guess the real numbers would be much higher, as there are other people like me who lacked the courage and support to seek help in the right places.
Covid-19 might just be a trigger for someone to go from health-conscious to hypochondriac. Or it might significantly worsen the anxiety for someone who is already struggling with it.
If this is you, please know that you are not alone and reach out for help! Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation.
If you know someone freaking out about Covid-19, don’t tease them or say it’s nothing. Spread some love because anxiety is more common than you might assume.
Rainie Ye is a biomedical science graduate and currently pursuing her PhD. She loves writing about science, health, nutrition and fitness. She has written for more than 100 blogs as a freelancer.