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How do you handle a hypochondriac?

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People usually handle a hypochondriac with disdain and blame the person for bringing this on themselves, as if they are faking it, But this stance only makes the problem worse. The reason is that a person with hypochondria really believes they are ill, so when you tell them they are faking it or have disdain for them, it makes the sufferer even more determined to find out what their illness is, so that they can prove all the naysayers wrong.

Sadly, many doctors have this disrepectful reaction to hypochondriacs. When a doctor acts this way, then it becomes dangerous, as this triggers the hypochondriac to look for other doctors, and to insist on more and more medical tests, just to prove all the doctors wrong who have doubted their concerns about having a medical illness.

If you are a friend, family member, doctor, or other person who handles a hypochondriac, then the best way to handle them is to have empathy and understanding. You can start to help a hypochondriac by educating yourself about the disorder, and then understanding that they really believe they are ill, and that they are not faking their concerns. You handle a hypochondriac by listening to them, and comforting them, and taking their concerns seriously.

Hypochondriacs need to see their family doctor on a regular basis, to listen to their concerns, and to do examinations as warranted, taking their concerns seriously. When no illness is found, then this needs to be done gently, and with understanding. It takes time to do this, and after you gain their trust, they will slowly get better due to their relationship with you. Of course, they may eventually need to be referred to a psychiatrist or therapist, but the family doctor is the primary treatment provider for a person with hypochondria.

Unfortunately, many family doctors do not want this role, and try to refer them out to mental health providers. So if you are trying to handle a person with hypochondria, find a family doctor who has experience and skills to treat hypochodriacs.

answered May 7, 2016 by drcarlo (296,540 points)