How to Overcome Being Cyberchondriac?
According to the Emily Doherty-Torstrick and colleagues, cyberchondria refers to “searching the web excessively for healthcare information.” It’s an exaggeration of what about 90% of Americans do ordinarily, which is “online symptom checking.” And while hypochondria was prevalent in previous decades as well, the Internet blew it out of proportions.
It is a “side-effect” of the digital health progress. As people are becoming more and more active when it comes to tracking and managing their wellbeing or disease, exaggeration is rampant. As technology progresses, we’ll have much more information on our hands about health and illness. Our ECG sensors, food sensors, sleep trackers, digital tattoos, online algorithms or genetic test results will all give us health data.
These tools are incredibly useful for prevention. However, as people have no training in how to interpret data and how to manage their own information, the result might be jumping to conclusions too early, misinterpreting information or falsely evaluating data.
Thus, everyone who gets into the world of digital health will become a cyberchondriac to a certain extent. So the real question is not how to avoid becoming a cyberchondriac, as we’ll all get into it, but, how we can overcome anxiety as fast as possible and use our newfound knowledge for something good.
The fight against our inner cyberchondriac
Psychology Today collected the signs that could tell you the difference between being a cyberchondriac or just worried about your health. So, for example, start to apply the below recommendations if you check online for symptom information from up to 1 to 3 hours per day and/or you fear you have several different diseases.
1) Recognize that the internet is a double-edged sword
It could be incredibly helpful in finding doctors or communities, but it could also give you a very misleading picture if you try to self-diagnose. So be informed, track your health, note the changes and get information on how to use technologies to your advantage. Importantly, don’t leave out your doctor, be a partner, let’s figure it out together.
2) If you google your symptoms, use trusted sources
We collected these in this article, . Among the many amazing sources out there, these are my top 10 choices when it comes to finding reliable medical and health information online. From medical websites to online toolkits, my favourites include , , , , – and definitely not . If you go off-road, you’ll most definitely find websites or forums that will support your narrative. So stay objective.
3) And finally, try to calm yourself
When Apple’s first smartphone appeared, people said we will not talk to each other anymore. Ultimately the opposite happened, but we needed a decade of learning how to use smartphones well (if we did eventually). This learning curve might be longer in terms of our health. Within The Medical Futurist team, we have a guiding philosophical principle called Occam’s razor. It says: the most straightforward solution always tends to be the right one. Apply it when you have a headache while your smartphone says you’re dying.
I was worried to . I was reluctant to know what kind of deadly diseases lurk around the corner. But eventually, I did, and I got to be aware of the fact that I inherited susceptibility to skin cancer and thrombosis. This information presents a solution, rather than a problem. From now on, I can take better care of myself, knowing these – and keep all these in mind with my primary care physician.
As digital health makes an awful amount of data accessible, we all feel the anxiety that comes with it. But only in the beginning. Eventually, we will learn to make informed decisions by weighing our options. A little fear is a small price for being informed and being able to make educated decisions about our health.
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