HYPOCHONDRIASIS.- A morbid state of mind, in which the patient imagines himself suffering from all manner of disease in mind, body, and estate, which have no real objective existence. It is often a result of a habit of looking perpetually at the dark side of things, and at the inside of one’s self. The latter produces a morbid sensitiveness to every little pain or sensation, exalting it into the symptom of some fatal disease, and also a morbid sensitiveness of conscience which exaggerates every little fault into an unpardonable sin. The condition was anciently supposed to be due to an affection of the liver, which occupies the hypochondria, and hence it derived its name. It does frequently accompany disordered liver or digestion, but it more frequently exists independently of these. It is a disease peculiarly affecting men. In women it takes the from of hysteria or melancholy.
General Treatment.- When it is ascertained that there is no actual organic disease present, the difficulty arises of persuading the patient that such is the case. This is by no means easy. If he is told bluntly, he will go from one doctor to another, quite convinced that nobody understands his case. The great object is to get the patient out of himself. A wise friend is often of more service here than a doctor, unless the latter is on intimate terms with the patient. The treatment is rather moral than medical. But medicines must not be neglected. The power of drugs over mental states is very great. Where the condition arises from slight bodily ailment, exaggerated into a grave disease in the patient;s mind, the actual disease must be cured in the first instance, and with it the whole morbid state will probably disappear.
Medicines.- (Two or three times a day.)
Nux v. 3.
– When arising from disordered digestion, or constipation.
Natrum mur. 6.
– In ill-nourished persons with earthy complexion; chilly.
Actea r. 3.
– Sense of a cloud hanging over one.
– When burning pains are complained of, red tongue, thirst, anxiety, anguish, restlessness.