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Are You a Cyberchondriac?

April 8th, 2014 by Hale Dwoskin

More than 6 million Americans search online for medical advice every day, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. This is usually harmless and can even be helpful if it leads you to engage in a productive dialogue with your doctor. Of course, it can also be taken too far.

‘Cyberchondriac’ is a relatively new term used to describe people who surf the net incessantly for health information, then believe they have a certain disease they read about online. Suddenly a pimple begins to look like skin cancer, a sore knee is a sign of arthritis and a scratchy throat is cause for alarm.

First-year medical students do this all the time. After being drowned by a sea of information about countless diseases, they often become nervous wrecks, believing they have at least a handful of the symptoms. On the Internet, a person has access to much of the same information, though without a support system or forum to put things into context.

The Internet is both a blessing and a curse. Many of us have substituted research on the Web for competent medical advice. In fact, there’s more self-diagnosing going on at this time in our history than at any other time.

While the Internet can sometimes help you recognize an illness, taking basic information about a health condition and suddenly assuming you have it is dangerous. From a physical perspective it can cause you to self-medicate unnecessarily, perhaps leading to drug side effects. And on an emotional level, believing or fearing you are sick will quickly run you down. Are you a cyberchondriac?

Signs That You May be a Cyberchondriac, and What to Do

CNN.com recently detailed the signs to look for if you think you (or someone you love) may be a cyberchondriac:

  • You feel worse or more scared, instead of better, after searching the Web for health information
  • Your doctor’s reassurances that you’re fine doesn’t make you feel better
  • You move quickly from suspecting you may have a disease to knowing it is so, without talking to a doctor

If this sounds familiar to you, it’s time you learned The Sedona Method’s process of letting go. The fear that can be generated simply by looking for something that’s wrong with you is, quite possibly, enough to actually make you sick.

This happens because the more you focus on something, the faster your mind will manifest that in your body. If you focus on health, your body will go in that direction, but focus on sickness, and that’s another story. This is why learning to let go of your fears is so essential.

Worrying about what we read about on the Web, what we hear from friends or even what we hear from a competent medical professional does not contribute to the healing process. What contributes to the healing process is releasing our fears, our doubts, and any anger or frustration we may be feeling toward our body, the real or imagined illness, and our dealings with medical professionals.

As we release, we free up our ability to know when information we’re getting from any source is accurate and useful, and when we’re simply reacting without any foundation in fact. Once we get clear on what is actual or factual we can take the appropriate action with the added peace of mind and certainty that comes from letting go.

The increase in information that the Web provides is wonderful — as long as we remember to check our findings with people who are trained in knowing what’s best for us at the medical level.

-Hale

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