Are You A Cyberchondriac?

By Richard157 Latest Reply 2009-04-27 22:56:19 -0500
Started 2009-03-15 13:11:51 -0500

Health information online is breeding a generation of cyberchondriacs - people who needlessly fear the worst diagnosis after surfing the net, say researchers.

You may be a cyberchondriac if …

… you feel worse after Web surfing instead of better

"If research on the Internet helps to make you feel empowered, and engaged in a dialogue with your doctor, it's helpful," DiMatteo says. "But if it makes your heart rate go up, that's potentially problematic.

Or to put it another way: "If you feel more scared and confused after being on the computer for half an hour, that's not good," says Dr. Vicki Rackner, a surgeon and patient advocate.

… your doctor's reassurances don't help

"I don't have a problem with people fishing around on the Internet to see what diseases they might have," Barsky says. "For most people, a doctor's reassurances that they're fine is adequate. I worry about the people for whom that isn't enough, and whose concerns persist and go right back on the Internet."

… you move quickly from suspicion to conviction

If you quickly become convinced your shaking hands are Parkinson's disease, or your sore throat is an immune deficiency, you need to back away, our panel of experts says. Investigate your symptoms if you like, but leave the diagnosing to the doctors.

How to avoid becoming a cyberchondriac

Barsky suggests putting limits on your surfing right from the start.

"Plan in advance what you want to find out, what the question is you're trying to answer, and how much time you're willing to spend on it," he says. "If you find yourself exceeding those limits, you should ratchet it down."

Here is a link from the BBC:

17 replies

biBBWinVT 2009-04-27 22:56:19 -0500 Report

No, but I sure do love all the readily available science and medical info on the web! I am part of a roleplaying/writing group in which I play a doctor. Since I don't like to go into a role without playing it right this kind of thing sure helps!

alwaystryin 2009-04-26 10:05:45 -0500 Report

A very interesting observation, and it just reminds me of how many things adapt to the medium of the day. It used to be all the TV Commercials that had the same effect, however, now it is all over the Web. In my writings I call a Book, I am not going to use the word 'Internet' even though it is about my life interwoven with Technology!

jsd2005 2009-03-16 11:59:29 -0500 Report

I am a cyber nut, but I usually feel better as It helps me gain knowledge, which I hope can help me in my search for health. There is so much out their, you have to be careful and check out the sites that are legitimate,

LadyDi - 26259Miller
LadyDi - 26259Miller 2009-03-16 12:04:34 -0500 Report

The Internet is an amazing resource. As with everything, however, caution must be used. You can't believe everything you see or hear. That pertains to everything in life, though, doesn't it? I love the Internet and find it a never ending source of information.

2009-03-15 19:00:52 -0500 Report

I know I definitely am a cyberchondriac (or was!) When I was first diagnosed I spent hours reading everything I could find about Type 1. All the horror stories, conflicting information, it was just a mess. I had to make myself stop because I was more confused than when I started out hoping for answers! I couldn't talk to my family or friends about diabetes, none of them are diabetic! I finally stopped reading, listened to my doctor's and a few good online friends and STOPPED reading about it. The internet is a good source, but when you know nothing at all about diabetes, diet, carbs, shots, it's not the place to learn. I'm just happy it's getting easier and I have a better understanding of it now than I did a few months ago. Take care! Angie

GabbyPA 2009-03-15 15:15:49 -0500 Report

I recall this phenomenon in my High School Psyc class. Every time we discussed a new type of condition, all of us suddenly felt we suffered from that. I am sure we all drove my teacher crazy. LOL
I don't know why it is we do this, but that is one reason I don't look too much unless I have a reason. I try not to get too sidetracked either.

The pharmacutical companies are banking on this pattern in people. That is why we are such an over medicated population. All day on the tv, radio, magazines and internet, we see 100's of resons we should be sick and taking a pill. It is crazy.

LadyDi - 26259Miller
LadyDi - 26259Miller 2009-03-15 15:53:59 -0500 Report

You are sooooo right!

Avera 2009-03-15 23:29:57 -0500 Report

When I was in college, the same thing happened in my Psychology classes, especially the Abnormal Psychology classes. I had a nephew that thought he was truly mentally ill after taking that class.

caspersmama 2009-03-16 10:47:15 -0500 Report

I did that too in my Deviant Behavior class. I just knew all my friends and family were criminals. Plus I thought I would be the next psyhco make the news in my Abnormal Sociology class.

caspersmama 2009-03-16 11:15:25 -0500 Report

I love your look. You seem to be a classy lady. I want to be taller(I am 5'3") and thinner( I am ———) and have better hair( mine is thin and straight). Oh well, I have my health. Oh dear not that either. Well I need to go back to the hairdresser NOW.

LadyDi - 26259Miller
LadyDi - 26259Miller 2009-03-15 14:09:00 -0500 Report

I have thought that was the case for years. Before the Internet I had a friend who had 4 kids and they had everything imagineable, according to her. She constantly read medical material, then immediately deduced that 1 or more of her kids were showing symptoms - immediately took them in to see the doctor. We've been out of touch for years, and her kids are all grown. I'm sure she must be lovin' the Internet!

caspersmama 2009-03-15 14:07:35 -0500 Report

If I do surfing on Web Md or Dlife, I will print it out and mark the symptoms I have and discuss with my doctor. So far it has worked and no fear to report.

lipsie 2009-03-15 13:45:01 -0500 Report

I have to say I can understand this. Years back I was having problems and searching answerings, I thought I was dying even at one point so yeah you have to limit yourself and be careful but looking into things can help in my opinion also, prepare for appt. with you docotrs and your own thoughs. Sheila

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