Definition

Hypochondriasis is a preoccupation with the idea that one has or may have a serious disease despite medical reassurance. This preoccupation is based on the misinterpretation of physical symptoms or signs and is severe enough to cause clinically significant distress or functional impairment but is not of delusional intensity (American Psychiatric Association 2000). The disorder must last at least 6 months to meet DSM-IV-TR criteria (see Table 8-3). In contrast to other forms of somatization, the significance attached to various symptoms, rather than the physical symptoms themselves, produces the distress.

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