Do you find yourself consulting Dr Google for health concerns you may have? Well, it is about time you stop doing that!
Dr Google has recently gone as far as rolling out a feature called ‘Symptom Search’ to give ‘clients’ a general description of their problem.
However, there is something Dr Google isn’t telling you.
Researchers have found that the Internet while being used as a symptom search, is fueling a silent epidemic known as ‘Cyberchondria’.
Cyberchondria refers to a health anxiety where harmless ailments are mistaken for severe and terrifying diagnosis, especially for people who have no medical training.
This anxiety is said to be triggered particularly by reading or hearing about someone who had specific symptoms that turned out to be a life-threatening diagnosis. Such accounts then prompt a health anxiety or even lead to someone believing that they, too, are ill when they are actually not.
Other times you find that the health anxiety you get from receiving a diagnosis suggestion is actually what makes you ill. Just like that, the mind can play some real life-changing tricks on you. Scary!
Psychologists observe this health anxiety under a phenomenon called ‘suggestibility’. Suggestibility is defined as: “The extent to which a person is able to accept suggestion, which varies according to one’s state of mind. The greater the suggestibility that an individual is experiencing, the greater its effect will have upon the person’s perceptions of reality.”
In other words, suggestions of illnesses (which are often blown out of proportion) may affect an individual’s state of mind to such an extent that they alter the individual’s reality.
Some hypnotic stuff out here, I tell you.