Hypochondriasis: Difficulties in Diagnosis and Management

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The hypochondriacal patient presents numerous frustrations for the physician. The typical hypochondriac is a middle-aged person dominated by a preoccupation with bodily symptoms. Bereavement, serious life failures, and severe blows to self-esteem put patients at high risk for somatization. Hypochondriasis has been cited as a symptom of masked depression, early paranoid schizophrenia, and dementia and/or delirium. A careful diagnostic work-up with attention to any correctable psychiatric illness sets the stage for regularly scheduled, long-term supportive therapy.

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