Hypochondria is the real fear that something is wrong with your body, like a dreadful disease or horrific condition. This fear is hard to control for many people, but when children are afflicted by hypochondria, the fear can get completely out of control. While it may be reflex to brush off a lot of medical questions from your child or think they're just playing when they seem overly worried, you could be dealing with a real and serious anxiety issue.
The Symptoms Of Hypochondria In Your Child
Most especially if your child has watched someone experience a serious illness, their fertile imaginations can easily conjure up very negative connotations pertaining to health, doctors, hospitals, and even medicines. Instead of a common cold remedy offering simple relief at bedtime, it might become a sign that something really bad is going to happen for your child, even though they're battling the cold symptoms.
Watch for real physical manifestations of health anxiety, or hypochondria, too, such as bad belly aches, headaches, dizziness, nausea or even throwing up itself. Your child might seem preoccupied with germs, running from someone who sneezes or washing their hands obsessively. Listen carefully, if you think your child is developing a serious phobia, for clues that reveal overblown thoughts and exaggerated reactions.
Since anxieties can be hereditary, if things like this run in your family, take note of that, as what you're seeing in your child could be the result of an inherited condition, along with what they may have witnessed around them.
Talking To Your Pediatrician
Your child might actually fear the pediatrician's office since it's a place where you might see sick people, but it's very important to bring your child's anxieties to the attention of their doctor. Together, you and the pediatrician can emphasize the good work done there, mainly to help people get better. If your child has caught a cold or another contagion in the waiting room, tell them how different germs will exercise their immune systems, so the immune system really knows how to fight for them for their entire lives.
Your child's pediatrician can also recommend a counselor, if you feel that the anxieties are out of control or otherwise should be discussed in depth in that type of environment.
Treatment Options For Kids With Health Anxieties
Most doctors, with their endearing bedside manners, will put on a show for a child, so that laughter replaces fears; however, there are more intensive treatments for serious anxieties, including Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Stress-Management Techniques and even Exposure Therapy that may help your family. Depending on how old your child is and how overcome they are by their fear of illness and germs, just the simple act of acknowledging those fears could put you on the right path. If they can learn to alter their thought patterns, breathe deeply when needed, and that worry doesn't prevent illness in the first place, the grip of anxiety could loosen.
Sometimes, though, anxieties in children warrant medication, but that's uncommon and likely only considered a last resort by your child's pediatrician. Whatever the treatment sought, it should be consistent and complete, as childhood anxieties can easily evolve into teenage anxieties, then lifelong, adult anxieties.
When you know your child is overcome with worry, it's hard not to think that something is wrong, but teaming up with your pediatrician should alleviate a lot of your fears, along with providing your child a way to resolve their's, as well. It could be just a phase, a result of witnessing a traumatic medical issue or your child may have anxieties your whole family will have to live and work with. No matter what though, you need to get to the bottom of your child's fears, and the pediatrician's office is the best place to start.
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