Scared You Might Have Cancer? DON'T Go On the Internet!

I've been accused of being a hypochrondriac.  And I suppose I am.   But there are actually people who are worse off than me.  The cyberchrondriacs.

These people look up any ailment they have on the Internet to see whether it is cancer, or a stroke, or a broken bone.  Only, the information doesn't reassure them -- it only makes them even more desperate.

According to newswise.com, for folks who have trouble handling uncertainty, “cyberchondria” – the online counterpart to hypochondria – worsens as they seek answers, according to a Baylor University researcher.

"If I’m someone who doesn’t like uncertainty, I may become more anxious, search further, monitor my body more, go to the doctor more frequently — and the more you search, the more you consider the possibilities,” newswise.com quotes Thomas Fergus, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. “If I see a site about traumatic brain injuries and have difficulties tolerating uncertainty, I might be more likely to worry that’s the cause of the bump on my head.”

But it's not just the medical info that haunts people.  It's the money it could foster.  "Doubts about health — unfounded or not — may trigger worries about potential medical bills, disability and job loss," newswise.com quotes Fergus. And that can lead to even more Googling, obsessing, doctor visits, unnecessary medical testing and distress.

Studies have shown that eight out of 10 people seek medical info on the Internet.

And the online glut of information has only made it worse for cyberchondriacs.  “When you look at a medical book, you might not see all the possibilities at once, but online you’re presented with so many,” Fergus told newswise.com.



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