Asked by: Sophie Parks, London
Psychiatry ditched the term ‘hypochondria’ a few years ago as it was considered too pejorative, and replaced it with two related diagnoses: ‘somatic symptom disorder’ (distress due to bodily symptoms that can’t be attributed to a medical condition) and ‘illness anxiety disorder’ (extreme anxiety about the possibility of having a serious illness, or developing one). There is no ‘cure’ for either condition, but both are considered treatable, mainly through psychotherapeutic techniques such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), which aim to help the patient to relax and not to catastrophise when interpreting bodily sensations.
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