Hypochondria is the chronic mental state in which the sufferer is constantly occupied with a delusion that he or she is seriously ill. The individual spends a great deal of time seeking cures, has a gloomy turn of mind and is extremely self-centred. He or she is unproductive and drains the resources of family, friends and society by requiring large amounts of the medical profession's time. As well as placing a burden on the individual, it places a burden on society due to excessive health care use. There is also little community awareness it exists. And it is often misdiagnosed as a “personality trait” rather than a treatable condition.
Data from an Australian population survey, published in 2013, found illness anxiety affects 5.7% of Australians at some point in their lives. That’s over one million people.
Most people with illness anxiety frequently seek health care, with higher overall rates of health service use in people with illness anxiety compared to the general population. But people may also avoid health care because they are terrified of finding out they are sick.