My boyfriend has been unofficially diagnosed by two doctors (family & friend) with hypochondria, but he refuses to believe it. He's incredibly overanxious about minor physical symptoms (many of which can easily be explained by anxiety) and switches which fatal disease he's dying from every one to two days.

This has been going on for several weeks. Nothing I can say can appease him. I've tried to calmly tell him he's all right, that he can make an appointment with a doctor and get his concerns looked at, that he should be open to counseling, but he gets defensive, angry, and insulted. (He seems to believe counseling is only for "crazy" people, even though I've had it myself.) I've tried not commenting on his health and trying to distract him, but he gets insulted that I'm "dismissing" his concerns. I've tried telling him that I'm sorry he feels that way and that I'm sorry he's dealing with anxiety (which he knows I've dealt with as well), but then he questions the "tone" of my voice and thinks I'm dismissing his concerns, too.

He's become extremely paranoid and tells me I hate him, I just want to "get rid of him" by telling his parents my concerns (he's an adult, by the way, but a young adult) and suggesting a counselor, and that he's "all alone." I've tried assuring him that he's not alone and that it's out of love that I want him to get help, but he insists that only people who don't want to "deal with" others do that.

(His mom, by the way, is no help and refuses to suggest counseling to him. His dad was more helpful, but told me I need to stop suggesting counseling because my boyfriend seems to think counseling = you're worthless, so I agreed and have tried to not mention it, but when he gets paranoid and angry, it slips out again.)

He can be normal for short spurts throughout the day or even go a day or so without having a huge fit of depression and/or anger, but I'm at my wit's end. What can I do? How can I respond to his fears? Thank you.


2795 days ago
Hi HolleyE,

I'm not usually one for ultimatums but I think it's going to come down to this with your BF. You should pick a good time to talk to him and start 1st by saying - you care about him...... that mentally ill people aren't crazy but simply ill, the same way a person with diabetes is ill. He needs to understand, this is negatively affecting his health/relationships and it's out of his control. Therapy and possibly medication will help him control his symptoms.

Often other disorders accompany hypochondriasis such as - clinical depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (also known as OCD), phobias and somatization disorder, as well as a generalized anxiety disorder diagnosis at some point in their life. He needs to go for an accurate psychological and physical evaluation.

After you've explained all of this, you can offer to go to the doctors with him. If he's seems uncooperative, then explain you can't be in this relationship until he's ready to get the help he needs. You can explain this to his father as well and have him look it up on the internet. I hope he agrees and good luck.

2795 days ago
yes, I agree with Bella on this

you cannot help someone who refuses to be helped! perhaps if he realizes that he stands to lose you if he does not seek help for this, he will agree to therapy. It isn't being "crazy" or "worthless" to see a doctor if one has any type of illness, and this is just that, an illness that he needs treatment for. I am sure he hates feeling this way and so hopefully he will acknowledge that he wants to get better and start the process of healing!

2794 days ago
There are a few different ways to approach this, but I can't say which one will work best in your particular case.

Chemar is correct in stating that unless he sincerely wants the help and to change, there is less chance of anything other than short-term adjustment happening. As much as you can try, it's his decision to make and solely his issue to fix.

This is not to say you can't be supportive. It sounds like you are genuinely trying to help him, but what other approaches can be tried? From what I'm reading is that there may be an underlying, terrifying fear he's been entrenched in. He may not even know what it is, but it's extremely real to him. It may be irrational, but to him, it's entirely rational. Then again, something might truly be there.

I know there have been quite a few times in my life that I steadfastly refused or merely actively procrastinated on seeing a doctor for fear of finding the truth that by not going for so long I really screwed myself up, and then reinforced the affirmation that I didn't need to go because I felt guilty about it. But the absolute last thing I wanted was a doctor to confirm what I'm thinking is a reality. In a sense, by insisting for him to see a doctor or counselor, it may be further reinforcing his fears. Your comment about him thinking counseling is for the crazies may indicate a worry that he may be considered crazy too.

Counseling isn't the only option out there, but it's generally the first one that comes to mind. Do you have a close enough relationship that you can have a conversation with him that may bring to light the underlying issues?

There may also be support groups in your area for other people dealing with the same problems; there is a lot of power in finding that we're not the only one who deals with a certain issue. Being able to "compare notes" and coping strategies can be effective also. You could also offer to go with him - showing solidarity and support in the process. Also, Google the keywords along with your location and see what pops up. There may be a specialized (and hopefully free) community service available.

I am not saying that it is or isn't Hypochondriasis, merely that it may indicate or be influenced by something that isn't entirely obvious even to those unofficial diagnoses (even the doctors don't truly know without proper screening and could lead to a wrong path of treatment).

Remember, though, this is about him. You may not be able to resolve this, and might have to take action to ensure your own health and stability remains intact too.

I do hope for the best and wish you well in whatever decision is made; sometimes different viewpoints will assist in finding resources that may have been overlooked in the moment.