Illness Anxiety Disorder (Hypochondria): Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 1/9/2019

Hypochondriasis, sometimes referred to as hypochondria or illness anxiety disorder, is a condition characterized by worry over an imagined illness, including exaggeration of symptoms, that lasts for at least six months and causes significant distress. People affected with this condition are referred to as hypochondriacs. Hypochondriacs may seek medical information from a variety of sources and may be distrustful or suspicious when doctors do not confirm their expectations.

Causes of hypochondria (illness anxiety disorder)

The exact cause of hypochondriasis is not well understood, but previous personal and family experiences may play a role in shaping the hypochondriac's beliefs.


Kahn, Debra. "Illness Anxiety Disorder (Formerly Hypochondriasis) Differential Diagnoses." Mar. 6, 2018. <>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/9/2019

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