Have you experienced Cyberchondria?
Psychiatrist Alptekin Cetin of NPISTANBUL Brain Hospital, which is affiliated with Uskudar University, shared his medical opinion on cyberchondria phenomenon and its possible risks.
Cyberchondria is a psychiatric clinical phenomenon, when a person continuesly searches for his or her symptoms in the Internet to confirm “self-diagnosis”. Internet searches might result in excessive concerns about health condition.
Psychiatrist Alptekin Cetin notes that self diagnosing and taking into consideration recommendations from forums and other non-scientific articles will definitely lead a patient to anxiety. “However, there is something worse than anxiety itself”, continued the doctor, “The most dangerous and risky thing is that there is basically no efficient and reliable information on the majority of topics for a general reader.” Resources on the Internet contain fake and low-quality articles on health-related issues, written by amateurs rather than healthcare professionals.
Health related topics are highly trending and the most clicked topics in the Internet. Anyone is able to find lots of articles, webpages and even websites on this and that disease, treatment facilitites, surgical methods, etc. On the one hand, you can easily reach information and find the answers to all of your questions, on the other hand, none can guarantee you their correctness and reliability. For instance, a person who experiences stomach ache searches for a relavant from their point of view diagnosis and can come to a conclusion that it is cancer.
Literacy and level of education
Cyberchondria is not considered as a psychiatric diseases yet. However, there are a plenty of clinical researches on it. “Let’s put cyberchondria aside, in case people pre-occupy themselves with self-diagnosing, they will obviously feel stressed, concerned. Thus, a person faces anxiety”, said the doctor. Further, it may seem obvious, but well-educated people with high level of literacy skills do not tend to self-diagnosing, unlike those who have little knowledge on health and science. It is them who use the Internet as a suitable tool for self-diagnosing, who take as a granted amateur comments on serious health-related topics instead of considering to consult a physicion or undergo a check-up.
There is such a thing as “a clinical diagnosis”, which refers us to the process of gathering anamnesis of a patient, subjective complaints, physical examination and even diagnostic procedures if needed. Sometimes even healthcare professionals need to consult their collegues, obtain the second medical opinion or consider differential diagnosis. “Health-related complaints cannot be and shoul not be confirmed or refuted on your own. If you experience something, which makes you concerned about your physical or mental health, I highly recommend you to consult a physician and undergo required medical diagnostic tests”, - continued the psychiatrist.