Mesude Erşan – ISTANBUL
People that compulsively search the Internet for information about particular real or imagined symptoms of an illness have become a growing concern among doctors.
Prof. Dr. Murat Aksoy, an expert in cardiovascular diseases, said many patients now go to Google at the first sign of a symptom and diagnose themselves based on the information they read online. “They believe [they have the illness] and think the symptoms develop gradually,” Aksoy said.
The term “cyberchondriac” refers to patients who get anxious about their health and go online to assuage their fears, only to come out more worried than before.
Among patients who utilize Google for any sign of symptom, most are “hypochondriacs,” as they are constantly overwhelmed with the fear that they have a serious disease, even though health care providers can find no evidence of illness.
“Hypochondria” tends to develop in the 20s and 30s, Prof. Dr. Murat Aksoy said. “A hypochondriac can develop as a result of an illness of a friend or someone from the family. It can also develop as an extension of depression or anxiety. They do not try to draw attention. They really think they have an illness and try to diagnose it,” he said.
“If research is to be taken regarding illnesses, the right sources should be utilized. The relevant specialty foundations, the Ministry of Health, and official websites can be more appropriate sources,” Aksoy noted, indicating Google may not always be the best answer.