General, Research, Technology

Many of us suffer from cyberchondria. What it is?

Has it ever happened to you that you suddenly got sickstomach and you decide to look for the causes of pain on the Internet? Most likely, you just ate a spoiled product, but after reading medical forums you found clear symptoms of a tumor and other serious diseases and made you panic. Millions of people around the world suffer from such a bad habit, so it was even given an unofficial name - cyberchondria. According to the authors of The Conversation, an excessive search for symptoms of illness on the Internet can seriously spoil life and even lead to stress, so they decided to figure out how to get rid of this bad habit.

Cyberchondria is a person’s desire to make a diagnosis based on symptoms of diseases read on the Internet.

According to the All-Russian Center for the Studypublic opinion (VTsIOM), in Russia every third person is self-medicating. There are many reasons for this, including high prices for medical examinations, low qualifications of some doctors, and a banal lack of time to go to hospitals. It’s much easier for people to enter their symptoms into a search engine, read articles, or consult with unskilled forum users and be treated with the medications they offer. But without the help of a professional doctor, you can begin to treat the wrong disease and cause even greater harm to your health.

By the way, in 2018, Google has already begun to combat self-medication


  • 1 Is it possible to self-medicate?
    • 1.1 Four signs of cyberchondria:
  • 2 How to get rid of a new species of hypochondria?
    • 2.1 In cognitive-behavioral therapy, a group of volunteers tried to do the following:

Is it possible to self-medicate?

To prove this, in 2017 there was astudy involving British Internet users. Even at a time when the Internet was not as developed as it is now, 65% of UK residents preferred to diagnose their illnesses on their own via the Internet rather than go to the hospital. Most of them looked for information on forums where people complained about similar symptoms, with 46% of them were sure of their diagnosis. However, in fact, only 15% of the diseases diagnosed through the Internet were correct.

There is probably no person in the world who has not searched for symptoms of diseases on the Internet

Thus, the human craving for finding symptomsdiseases on the Internet is a rather serious problem of our time, which can harm the health of many people. In general, this bad habit is a type of hypochondria - a person’s condition in which he is constantly worried about his health. How to identify this habit, told the publication The Conversation.

Four signs of cyberchondria:

  • searching for symptoms of diseases on the Internet too often and too long;
  • the inability to stop searching even after finding the most possible causes of the disease;
  • concern about the information found;
  • the impact of this anxiety on daily life.
  • How to get rid of a new species of hypochondria?

    According to the authors of the publication, get rid ofcyberchondria is possible using cognitive-behavioral therapy. This form of psychotherapy is based on the assumption that the psychological problems of a person are associated with illogical thoughts and deep-rooted stereotypes, changing which can eliminate all difficulties. A behavioral approach is used for treatment, in which new forms of behavior are encouraged and reinforced in ways that are pleasant for a person.

    Being self-medicated, a person can cause enormous harm to his health

    To prove effectivenesscognitive-behavioral therapy against cyberchondria, an experiment was conducted. Its essence was that a group of 41 volunteers with severe anxiety about health underwent therapy for 12 weeks, and the control group did not receive any treatment. As a result, it turned out that the first group of people after the sessions really began to resort less often to the search for disease symptoms on the Internet and became calmer.

    In cognitive-behavioral therapy, a group of volunteers tried to do the following:

    • Pay more attention to what they are looking for on the Internet. A few days later they began to realizebeing stuck in a constant search for symptoms. Subsequently, they began to compile a list of classes that they can perform instead of an anxious stay on the Internet;
    • Understand how Internet search works. It often happens that search algorithms yieldthe person sites that may interest him the most. But a person is most interested in reading about some terrible disease, and not that eye twitching may occur due to banal excessive drinking of coffee;
    • Trust only trusted sites. Even if the volunteers still decided to searchsymptoms, they began to go only to proven resources, the filling of which is carried out by professional medical professionals. Forums and social networks, of course, were ignored;
    • look for the least terrible explanation for the symptoms that have arisen. For example, if a person temporarily worsenedeyesight, they just tried to move away from the computer monitor and give their eyes a rest. Probably, in most cases this really helped, but after searching for symptoms one could find signs of imminent blindness and spend several days in anxiety;
    • distract from the desire to look for symptoms in any other way. For example, with a craving for search, they began to meditate or engage in their favorite hobby. This allowed me to calm down and look at the problems with a sober look.

    So, if you have symptomscyberchondria, you can also use the above tips. By the way, what signs of terrible diseases did you find? Tell your stories in the comments or in our Telegram chat - it's really interesting!