A hypochondriac can feel symptoms himself

Hypochondria and corona : The fear of contracting the virus

The elevator button in the office, the door opener in the subway, a stained glass in a restaurant or the lifting of the toilet lid in public buildings - if this list has just left you completely cold, consider yourself lucky. Then you belong to the group of people who are likely to have little or no fear of germs and viruses.

However, if you have just had a slight shiver or you can even feel the budding cold sore on your lip, then in times of the corona pandemic a certain panic is likely to lie dormant in you.

A “healthy” fear is also entirely permissible. If the person sitting next to you on the bus suddenly starts coughing these days, signals will probably sound in each of us and arouse hypochondriacal ways of thinking: “Does the stranger have the virus? Do I get it now too? .... He coughed; also dry, I heard it exactly. And then also in my direction! "

Rainer Hellweg, managing senior physician at the Charité Mitte psychiatric clinic, can reassure you: “We still don't know enough about the corona infection and its course, and those suffering from coronaviruses often show very unspecific symptoms that can also have a flu-like effect or a cold. Seen in this way, not everyone is a hypochondriac who thinks about being infected with coronaviruses. "

People with hypochondriac disorder

But there are certainly people who, at such moments, actually suffer from an inappropriately strong fear of becoming ill or being infected and who feel confirmed by the smallest symptoms. In common parlance these people are called hypochondriac. But Hellweg explains: "According to modern classification, the hypochondriac disorder is just one form of the so-called somatoform disorder."

People who suffer from these disorders are always worried about their health. "This can also be a pronounced hypochondriac disorder, for example if these people believe they have diseases such as AIDS or Corona and they cannot be dissuaded at all, even if they test negative in this regard." These people are now particularly affected by the corona phenomenon affected.

Corona pandemic particularly stressful for anxious patients

"If you are always worried anyway and believe that you are suffering from one or more severe and progressive physical illnesses that have just not yet been recognized, then such a corona pandemic becomes a further threat for these patients," says Hellweg and stresses that such circumstances further exacerbate the somatoform disorders.

Background about the coronavirus:

The psychologist Cornelia Praetorius, head of the Berlin North Region Crisis Service, as well as Rainer Hellweg suspect that “people with anxiety disorders are even more stressed in such times”.

Her colleague Angela Hofmeister also classifies the corona virus as another factor causing uncertainty. She points out that the Berlin Crisis Service offers a good opportunity for advice for "people who are unsettled by the overall crisis situation caused by the Corona" or who have overcome difficult life situations. At the moment, however, the inquiries were still limited.

Overcrowded emergency rooms and testing centers

It looks more problematic in the hospitals: Rainer Hellweg confirms that the emergency rooms are currently overcrowded. People who are prone to hypochondria are particularly motivated to go to a rescue center at such times.

But even those patients who do not suffer from an anxiety or somatoform disorder are unsettled and rush into the test centers. "Without knowing about the corona pandemic, many patients with unspecific complaints such as headaches or runny nose and scratchy throat would normally not necessarily seek medical contact," emphasizes Hellweg.

That would be due to the fact that the coronavirus pandemic currently seems difficult to control "and anything that threatens to be uncontrollably dangerous and can possibly also end fatally triggers fear in people." particularly impaired by such incalculable threats.

While a negative test result should reassure the average patient at the latest, the “somatizer” still believes that the test may not have been carried out correctly or at the wrong time. Rainer Hellweg speaks of the "patient with the big file" who wants to be tested again and again because of his "catastrophic thoughts". The next visit to the rescue center or the family doctor is preprogrammed. And the fear of the unknown corona virus remains.

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