Do you Google every change in your body for fear it's a symptom of something bigger? Have you convinced yourself you're suffering from an illness you've read about online, to the point of worry or distress? Are you constantly at the doctor's, often armed with a series of bookmarked websites? If so, you could be dealing with cyberchondria, a form of health anxiety which the Guardian defines as "compulsively using search engines and websites in the hope of finding reassurance about medical fears, only to self-diagnose further ailments." Take a look at the five signs you might have cyberchondria listed below; if any of them sound familiar, it's worth discussing the matter with a doctor.
As the Guardian reports, researchers have established the European Problematic Use of the Internet Research Network in order to further examine cyberchondria, as well as cyberhoarding (the "reluctance to delete information gathered online") and addiction to online activities including gaming, gambling, and watching porn. The network, consultant psychiatrist Professor Naomi Fineberg told the newspaper, was established in the absence of a concrete understanding of internet-related disorders. Cyberchondria, Professor Fineberg said, is "more common than we realise." Wondering if you're dealing with it yourself? Have a read of five common symptoms of the condition.