What is ‘cyberchondria’ and why you should not seek medical advice on the Internet

Internet health doctor

Hypochondria, that mental disorder – generally transitory – that leads to a constant and obsessive concern for health and that involves exaggerating the symptoms of a possible illness or even imagining them, finds the ideal place to expand on the Internet.

More than half of Internet users go online to search on Google – or even ask health applications or artificial intelligence apps – about the symptoms they suffer or think they suffer from, in search of a diagnosis that will calm their anxiety. Something that, in most cases, is not achieved, since on the Internet you can obtain any result and information that makes it seem that you are at risk of suffering from a serious illness.

This amplification of hypochondria enabled by the Internet and social networks is what is known as “cyberchondria” (cyber or online hypochondria). The fact that on social platforms like TikTok there is a proliferation of “experts” who talk about diseases, miracle diets or give health advice, also causes an increase in cyberchondria.

Watching a video of just a few seconds can lead the most hypochondriacs to think that they suffer from the disease that is described and even to self-diagnosis and self-medication. It is worth remembering that these two practices should never be practiced autonomously. Both the diagnosis and the medication correspond to the medical professionals who analyze each particular case.

How to combat ‘cyberchondria’

-Seek medical advice. Going to a medical professional for diagnosis and advice is the first step to ending the so-called “cyberchondria” in one fell swoop.

-Have patience. In the same way, it is necessary to be patient. Sometimes it is not easy to get a doctor’s appointment for the next day, which leads to searching for quick answers and solutions on the Internet.

-Consult verified and specialized sources. If you fall into the temptation of searching on the Internet or on social networks for information about a certain illness, disease or symptoms, you should be aware that you should not believe any information that appears on the Internet.

In this sense, it is always advisable to go to specialized, reliable and relevant sources to obtain information on any medical topic. Also be careful with hoaxes or fake news that could be spread and that refer to other patient cases or inaccurate information.

-Distrust virality and influencers. The fact that content has many visits or a video has many views does not make it more truthful. In this sense, it is recommended to always distrust “miracle diets” or magical advice that influencers who are not medical professionals with proven knowledge on the subject may offer, especially if they are announcing promotions and/or discounts that could be the result of agreements. with brands.

-Don’t get obsessed. In a hyper-hypochondriacal society, in which most of the problems have been solved, it is more common to become obsessed with other things, such as diseases or symptoms that one may have. Staying calm and seeking medical advice will always be the answer.

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