It is normal for a person to want to stay healthy and take note of bodily changes that are concerning. However, a person with Illness Anxiety Disorder has a persistent fear of having a serious medical illness, and tends to interpret normal sensations, bodily functions and mild symptoms (e.g. normal sounds of digestion, sweating or a mark on the skin) as signs of a serious disease. In severe forms, there is a tendency to consult multiple doctors, looking for one that will confirm the presumed illness. These concerns are very real to a person with hypochondriasis. If left untreated, this condition can lead to an obsessive preoccupation with the idea of being unwell and it can interfere with person's daily life. Hypochondriasis is not about the presence or absence of illness, but the psychological reaction towards it.
The symptoms of Illness Anxiety Disorder may be relieved by the use of medications, such as anti-depressants. Psychological therapies, including the use of distraction and relaxation techniques, are also helpful in managing the symptoms, as well as the stress associated with having this condition.