According to a new study, people with hypochondriasis are more likely to die earlier than others. How can we explain such an observation? The answers from Dr. Gérald Kierzek, emergency physician and medical director of TipsForWomens.
Hypochondria affects people who are perpetually worried about their health, with excessive fear of illness. According to a Swedish study, they present early mortality compared to the general population.
Earlier mortality for hypochondriacs
Karolinska Institutet researchers studied data from the National Patient Registry, 41,290 in total. Among them, researchers identified 4,129 people affected by hypochondriasis. The majority were women, almost all with an anxiety disorder (78%).
By assessing their risk of death or disease, scientists were able to determine that these particular patients live on average 5 years less than others: on average up to 70 years, compared to 75 years for others.
Different factors explain this early mortality
Hypochondriacs live with above-average anxiety and tend to analyze the slightest physical sign as the onset of illness. Paradoxically, their early mortality cannot therefore be explained by a delay in diagnosis due to lack of consultation. “On the other hand, there may be a sort of weariness in the face of the patient’s recurring complaints, which may lead to an involuntary delay in diagnosis on the part of the doctor. notes Dr. Gérald Kierzek, emergency physician and medical director of TipsForWomens.
More anxiety and increased risk of suicide
On the other hand, what scientists demonstrate is that the stress caused by this hypochondria triggers inflammation capable of causing certain pathologies. In fact, these patients have four times the risk of suicide and are also at greater risk (+64%) of contracting certain pathologies such as the flu, for example.
“Anxiety and chronic stress lead to chronic inflammation, which is a major contributor to disease” said Dr. Gérald Kierzek. “These conclusions highlight that the hypochondriac person himself creates the danger“adds the doctor, who recommends”to listen to your body, but not too much” and rely on anti-stress techniques to free yourself from anxiety such as self-hypnosis, meditation or relaxation.