Hypochondriacs have a tough life, continuously battling some ailment created from their imagination. However, the life for their spouses is even tougher, and often filled with frustration and exhaustion. In this article, we will learn how to correctly deal with a hypochondriac spouse, through love and support.
It is important to remember that, differentiating between real and imaginary illnesses is quite difficult. Therefore, when dealing with a hypochondriac, one should never assume that the person is making up the symptoms, without checking the situation critically.
Hypochondria is a genuine disorder of the mind that affects approximately 5 – 10% of humans around the world, in varying degrees of severity. Usually recognizing hypochondria for what it is takes some time. While it may initially seem that a person is genuinely sick, repetitive obsessive compulsive behavior and constant anxiety about illnesses help in the recognition of the true problem.
However, this disorder can create a lot of strain on relationships, as partners and spouses are forced to provide repetitive reassurances during all their interactions, which could lead to guilt, exhaustion, and frustration, that they might not be supportive enough, or the fact that they might be overlooking a real illness. Usually, the treatment for hypochondria is undertaken through a mix of cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressant medication.
Signs That Your Spouse is a Hypochondriac
- Your spouse is victim to panic attacks, severe anxiety, and depression, which leads the person to feel more pain than normal.
- Hypochondriacs have an obsession to learn everything about various illnesses and their symptoms, usually through the Internet.
- Some people have also been known to run from one doctor to another to confirm their illnesses, while others refuse to consult a doctor at all.
- Whenever they fall sick, they believe that it is due to a very deadly disease.
- Hypochondriacs often get downcast and depressed at the slightest sign of an illness, and may avoid conversation or other interactions.
Let us look at the best ways to deal with a hypochondriac spouse, once the condition has been identified.
Dealing with Hypochondriacs
- If your wife or husband is a hypochondriac, it important that you hear them out. People who are suffering from this condition always need to speak out about their supposed problems. Even though you might have heard all of their complaints before and know that the illness only exists in their head, you should listen to them in an effort to appear interested and concerned about their well-being.
- It is extremely important to find acceptance for their condition. Denial will only worsen the situation.
- Always try to keep your responses to their pleas neutral, but supportive, and never appear skeptical or show too much concern with their complaints.
- Actively discourage hypochondriacs from surfing the Internet, as this is a major source of danger for them. Keep reminding your partner that diagnosing themselves for illnesses through the Internet is harmful for their health.
- Try to show that you are empathetic to their situation, and that you understand the pain and discomfort that they are going through. You should be sympathetic, but avoid being either encouraging or discouraging about the situation.
- Hypochondriacs often want to talk only about their perceived illnesses. One should try to steer away the conversation to other topics that are not related in any way to their condition.
- Try to distract them from their pains by organizing physical activities; even simple exercises such as walks can be useful in keeping their minds off the problem. But, any distraction should feel natural and not forced.
- If your spouse is unwilling to listen to you, ask someone among your friends or family who has better influence on your spouse, to help.
- Most importantly, hypochondriacs are in need of therapy from a good psychiatrist.
- Get your spouse enrolled in a support group.
- Consult a doctor to see if any problem actually exists, and stick to the same doctor. If your spouse gets a clean chit, which is disbelieved by him/her, try to convince him/her of the doctor’s expertise.
Remember, the key is to be caring, but firm with your partner. This will help your spouse come out from the imaginary diseases, which cause such irritation and disharmony with your family life.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical professional.