What does the Bible say about hypochondria or being a hypochondriac?Question: "What does the Bible say about hypochondria or being a hypochondriac?"
Answer: Hypochondria, also called illness anxiety disorder or health anxiety, is a condition characterized by a person worrying excessively that he is or may become seriously ill. Minor health symptoms are seen by the hypochondriac as signs of severe illness, and this often results in all-consuming anxiety. For example, a headache may cause the person to worry about having a brain tumor, or a virus could cause a fear of cancer. Sometimes hypochondria gets more difficult during times of stress, and it can become debilitating.
The Bible does not mention hypochondria directly, but it clearly teaches that Christians are not to worry. In Philippians 4:6, we are commanded, “Do not be anxious [do not worry] about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” In this verse, we learn that we should bring all of our needs and concerns to God in prayer rather than worry about them. Jesus assures us that our heavenly Father will take care of all our needs (Matthew 6:25–34). Therefore, we have no need to worry about anything, including our health.
The Bible encourages us to guard our hearts by not feeding our minds with that which will promote worry (Proverbs 4:23). We are to guard our hearts—what we allow into them and what we allow them to dwell on. Thus, if you struggle with hypochondria, avoid health websites, TV shows, and so forth that preoccupy your mind with health symptoms. Avoid spending time with people who would encourage you down these paths of anxiety.
Believers who have walked the journey through hypochondria have shared the value of journaling. When a destructive worry comes to mind, they write their thoughts down immediately. Then they dismiss those thoughts from their minds. Journaling can also be a way to pay attention to what is going on in our hearts and submit our worries to God.
In 1 Peter 5:7, we are instructed to “cast all your anxiety on [God] because he cares for you.” God does not want us to carry around the weight of problems and burdens. God is concerned about everything that happens to us. No worry is too big or too small for His attention. When we give God our problems, including hypochondria, He promises to give us the peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Pray for healing and for God to deliver you from hypochondria.
If you continue to struggle with hypochondria, seek counseling, professional help, and/or therapy.
Recommended Resource: Everything Happens for a Reason? God's Purposes in a World Gone Bad by Paul Enns
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