What is cyberchondria? As the cyber denotes, it is related to the Internet. Cyberchondria is characterized as “excessive health anxiety generated by online searches.” It is a new form of hypochondria, which is defined as worry over an imagined illness with exaggeration of symptoms, no matter how insignificant, that lasts for at least six months and causes significant distress. Like hypochondria, cyberchondria becomes a problem when it interferes in one’s life, affecting work and relationships.
The easy availability of health information on the web has attracted countless people to research information about their health and possible medical treatments. A 2012 study reported that 61% of Americans turn to the Internet to answer questions about their health. However, this easy availability can be disastrous for people who already worry about their health. A lot of stuff on the Internet is pure impression and anecdote, and does not have a lot (or any in some cases) scientific validity. It is very easy to make the jump from headaches to diagnosing yourself with brain cancer. If you are prone to worry, and even if you aren’t, it’s best to visit a trusted doctor if you feel something is wrong.