We’ve all experienced the moment of anxiety that comes when we notice a new health-related symptom. Whether it’s physical or mental, any change can feel alarming. Often, our first response is to pull up our search engine of choice and attempt to figure out what is going on. While there are great benefits to having this information at our fingertips, online resources can also create unnecessary concerns. This phenomenon has only increased as the internet has become more vast and accessible. As a result, researchers have crafted a new term for the increased anxiety stemming from online symptom checking: cyberchondria.
What is Cyberchondria?
You’ve likely heard the term “hypochondria” before and associate this with an unhealthy obsession with having various medical conditions. A person with hypochondria is often convinced they have an ailment and require treatment. Cyberchondria acts in a similar way. The main difference is that this disorder is primarily influenced by information on the internet. According to The Journal of Psychiatry Research (2018), cyberchondria occurs when a person engages in repeated online research about medical information, resulting in excessive concern regarding their health. These continual searches frequently lead to self-diagnosis, resulting in higher levels of stress about potential conditions.
Mental Health Effects of Self-Diagnosis
Sometimes, the information you find on the internet can be helpful and decrease your anxiety about your symptoms. However, spending too much time researching can have the opposite effect. Because of the wealth of information available online, you may convince yourself that you have a rare condition. While your symptoms may partially align with an online diagnosis, it’s important to consult with your doctor if you have concerns. Self-diagnosis can increase anxiety unnecessarily, and for those with an existing mental health or substance use disorder, this increase in stress can have detrimental effects.
Managing Cyberchondria and Addiction
If you have a substance use disorder, learning to manage additional stressors is vital to maintaining your sobriety. Cyberchondria is especially dangerous because it can become an unhealthy obsession that distracts you from your recovery. The resulting anxiety can also cause your sobriety to waver if you lack proper coping skills. Especially for those in early recovery, managing outside stressors poses a challenge. Developing alternative coping strategies is a central aspect of addiction treatment, and these techniques can help with any stressful situation.
Treatment for Substance Use Disorders and Anxiety
If you’re struggling to manage an addiction alongside anxiety, Hemet Valley Recovery Center can help. We understand the challenges that come with living with a substance use disorder, especially when life stressors affect your sobriety. Learning to cope with change helps you maintain your sobriety for years to come. Our variety of programs is designed to fit your specific needs. We offer specialized treatment for young adults as well as older adults because we know addiction can affect any age. We also offer one of the only on-site medically supervised detoxification facilities, so you can detox in a safe, comfortable environment before entering treatment. If you want to build a solid foundation for your recovery, contact our admissions team today.