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Common Conditions addressed at the CCT

Illness Anxiety Disorder

Illness anxiety disorder is preoccupation with and fear of having or acquiring a serious disorder. Diagnosis is confirmed when fears and symptoms (if any) persist for 6 months despite reassurance after a thorough medical evaluation.

Illness anxiety disorder (previously called hypochondriasis) begins during early adulthood and appears to occur equally among men and women.

The patient’s fears may derive from misinterpreting nonpathologic physical symptoms or normal bodily functions (eg, abdominal bloating and crampy discomfort, awareness of heartbeat, sweating).

Patients with illness anxiety disorder are so preoccupied with the idea that they are or might become ill that their illness anxiety impairs social and occupational functioning or causes significant distress. Patients may or may not have physical symptoms, but if they do, their concern is more about the possible implications of the symptoms than the symptoms themselves (eg, their stomach discomfort itself is less distressing to them than the possibility it might be cancer).

Some patients examine themselves repeatedly (eg, looking at their throat in a mirror, checking their skin for lesions). They are easily alarmed by new somatic sensations. Some patients visit physicians frequently (care-seeking type); others rarely seek medical care (care-avoidant type).

Somatic Symptom Disorder

Somatic Symptom Disorder is a similar condition to Illness Anxiety Disorder, but in this case, there are bona fide somatic symptoms with which the individual becomes preoccupied and over-reactive, to an extent that impairs their ability to function appropriately in their personal or professional life.
Psychologists at OCCT who treat Health Anxiety are well trained in drawing the distinction between these two conditions. This is extremely important, as treatment planning will differ significantly between these two distinct presentations.