What to do if you are a 'Cyber-chondriac' - KMSP-TV

What to do if you are a 'Cyber-chondriac'

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Ask the internet a question and it provides you with an answer, a lot of answers actually, but not all of them are the correct ones.

One internet user says there were times when she would go to check on a minor condition, only to believe it might be a lot worse. “There’s been times I've gone onto Google,” she said, “Just had a little cough maybe a little scratch, all of a sudden I thought I was pregnant."

The truth is, a wrong answer can leave any googler panicky and tend to make Doctors like Dr. Michael Frank un-necessarily busy.

“They've all already looked up their symptoms, their possible illnesses” Dr. Frank said. “They have a diagnosis and a treatment plan before they sit down and get themselves comfortable."

This phenomenon is called ‘Cyber-chondria.’

According to psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere, ‘cyber-chondriacs’ often moonlight as hypochondriacs.

“People who are most susceptible are the ones who spend too much time on the internet,” he said. “[They] have too much time on their hands but also tend to have some degree of hypochondria."

Even if you are a more rational patient, the wrong blog or message board can leave you diagnosing a tickley throat, a slight temperature and an aching stomach as some never before seen hybrid of scurvy, scarlet fever and the black lung.

Dr. Frank says patients will think they have a headache, then they will come in thinking they have a something a lot worse. "The patient comes in convinced they have a brain tumor. Most patients with headaches don't have brain tumors." Dr. Frank said.

Experts say worrying online or offline often leads to more worrying and that you should always check with your family physician before jumping to your own conclusion.

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