Adolescence is a period of storm and stress in which most adolescents experience emotional turmoil and mental health disturbances, according to Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. Changes occurring rapidly in the young person’s life can bring mental difficulties, which produce physiological symptoms.
Hypochondriasis in Teenagers
Although hypochondriasis is rare in teenagers, many similar disorders are commonly diagnosed. Hypochondriasis in teenagers tends to overlap with a teenager’s pronounced preoccupation with bodily events. Many teenagers experience persistent concerns about headaches, dizziness and other strange sensations that cannot be explained by a medical diagnosis.
Body Image and Hypochondriasis
Somatic delusions about a teenager’s body are one of the most common forms of disorders. Because of widespread unhappiness about body image, fixed beliefs can often occur about bodily functions. These beliefs -- which become ingrained in the child’s mind -- can lead to somatoform disorders, which are false, fixed beliefs about the body’s functions without evidence of an actual disease. In addition, these fixed beliefs can lead to serious conditions including anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
Somatoform and Factitious Disorders
Adolescents with somatoform disorders often believe with vivid imagery that something specific is wrong with their body even if a doctor finds no abnormality. Often in teens, somatic symptoms are hidden from doctors due to a possible embarrassment of symptoms they feel, Wells states. This can lead to further anxiety regarding the problem and possible obsessive and compulsive behaviors.
Additional Problems Related to Hypochondriasis
Because of heightened anxiety levels resulting from emotional changes in teenagers, other disorders can arise from somatic delusions and hypochondriac behaviors. While somatic delusions often start slowly, where teenagers believe something small may be wrong with them, they often result in much bigger problems and can cause extremely heightened anxiety levels. Often, these delusions can lead to adolescent depressive symptoms and obsessive-compulsive disorder. In addition, the heightened anxiety can lead to social anxiety disorders and panic disorder -- if somatic delusions are not addressed.