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What Is Illness Anxiety Disorder?

Illness anxiety disorder (IAD) is a mental health condition in which an individual worries excessively about having a severe illness (or contracting one). Patients with this condition may have no physical symptoms of an acute illness or may be under the belief that minor symptoms or normal sensations in the body are symptoms of a critical disease. This can apply even if a medical exam indicates otherwise.

Excessive anxiety like this can cause intense distress, which may become debilitating. Thus, it is essential to understand the signs of illness anxiety disorder as well as how to treat this condition. Life does not have to be filled with worrying about potential illness.

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Relation To Hypochondria

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The first important thing to discuss is IAD's connection to hypochondria. Hypochondria is a popular term many people use to describe those who are more concerned about their health and the idea they have serious medical conditions than the general population. However, hypochondria is no longer a recognized diagnosis of the American Psychiatric Association's fifth edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

Instead of hypochondria, patients who meet certain criteria would receive one of two diagnoses. The first, evidently, is IAD, specifically when no physical symptoms are present, or they are quite mild in severity. The second diagnosis patients may receive is Somatic symptom disorder (SSD), often if there are multiple or significant physical symptoms. For full details on SSD, check out What Is Somatic Symptom Disorder?

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Jessica Groom
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