What is Cyberchondria?

Have you ever diagnosed yourself using the Internet? Say you have a small itchy rash and you don’t remember what the cause was, so you turn on your phone and load up Google and search for "itchy rash won’t go away". You find the worst of the worst conditions association with your symptoms, and you begin to panic – that’s cyberchondria.

Hypochondria, or health anxiety, is a type of mental condition where you worry excessively that you are or you may become seriously sick. You may or may not have symptoms, or you believe that normal sensations of your body, or minor symptoms are actually signs of a more severe condition even though a medical exam revealed nothing.

Cyberchondria is what happens when health anxiety meets the internet. We can find a lot of information about many diseases and conditions via the world wide web, and as a result, people have began self-diagnosing. A small rash suddenly could be skin cancer, a benign cyst could be a malignant tumor, or a skin blemish may actually be melanoma.

Many health websites like WebMD, while informative, are not 100% useful for diagnosing your symptoms. A lot of the medical facts and diagnosis presented on those sites could be misleading.

If you are experiencing any symptoms internally or externally and you might not know what’s causing it or why, your first course of action should be to call your doctor (or in case of an emergency dial 911).

While it’s perfectly fine to go on the Internet to do some research about your symptoms, take it with a grain of salt. Use those health websites for informative purposes and not for diagnosis. Your doctor’s job is to diagnose and tell you what is potentially wrong with you and what can be done to treat it. That’s what they are trained to do.

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