Hypochondriacs are always fighting some ailment of their imagination. Tolerating their cycle of symptoms is exhausting and frustrating. Though it may be all in their head, the hypochondriac in your life is in need of love and support. Learn more about how to deal with a hypochondriac by reading the information below.
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Hear them out. Hypochondriacs need to verbalize their condition; no matter how fabricated it may be. Even if you've heard it all before and know it's all in their head, listen in an effort to appear interested and concerned.
Remain neutral in your response and try to keep responses nonverbal. Don't appear skeptical or overly concerned with the hypochondriac's complaints but remain supportive.
Show empathy. Assure the hypochondriac that you understand their discomfort and pain. Without encouraging or discouraging their concerns about their health, appear sympathetic.
Discourage the hypochondriac from surfing the Web. Internet diagnosis is a dangerous trend among the delusionally ill. Without dismissing their pain and suffering, remind the hypochondriac that self-diagnosis through Internet research is hazardous to their health.
Accept their condition. Though many of the complaints are psychosomatic, hypochondria is a very real condition.
Tips and warnings
- Steer the conversation. Hypochondriacs often monopolize conversations with discussion of their illness. Change the topic by bringing up something unrelated to physical conditions.
- Preoccupy the hypochondriac with fun activities. When they start complaining about their aching bones, suggest a walk around the block. Tackling the perceived pain through physical activity is a good way to make them forget about it.
- Remember that it's hard to distinguish between legitimate health problems and imaginary ailments. Don't automatically assume the hypochondriac is making their symptoms up. Assess each episode with a critical eye.
- Some hypochondriacs are in need of therapy. Their constant complaining is actually an attention seeking device.