Hypochondriacs who tend to be worried sick could become sick for real, according to a new study from Norway that suggests the possibility of a mind-body connection between so-called health anxiety and heart disease.
As defined by the American Psychological Association, hypochondria is “the conviction that one is ill, despite all evidence to the contrary.” About five percent of the U.S. population may be suffering from what some experts also classify as an anxiety disorder, causing them to show up in their doctor’s waiting room perhaps more often than the ongoing visits from Big Pharma salesmen and women.
The Norwegian study followed about 7000 respondents now in their 60s for 12 years. Researchers found that those who were diagnosed with health anxiety were 70 percent more likely to develop heart disease then their less-anxious counterparts.
According to the study published in the BMJ Open medical journal, “Health anxiety is a specific type of anxiety characterized by preoccupation of having, acquiring or possibly avoiding illness, yet little is known about lifestyle and risk of disease development in this group.”
Panic attack = heart attack?
An obsession with phantom symptoms is a risk factor for heart disease, the study underscored. “The persistent and exaggerated attention to symptoms may rather contribute to continuous and high activation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, placing strain on bodily systems and, in turn, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.”
In this kind of scenario, a nervous Nellie may not actually be suffering from a medical condition but getting stressed out about it over time could be the source of ill health.
The study also noted that the findings take on great import since heart disease is one of the primary causes of illness and death around the world.
“The results suggest it’s better, instead of worrying about what’s going on with your body and running to the doctor of any physical health problem, to seek a proper diagnosis and help for the anxiety disorder,” Dr. Line Iden Berge of Sandviken University, the lead author, remarked.
Separately on the mind-body link when it comes to medicine, Suggestible You author Erik Vance claims in a Washington Post article that government-required clinical trial evidence supporting a pharmaceutical drug’s effectiveness has become more challenging to gather. “For certain ailments, so many people respond so strongly to placebos that it’s impossible to tell if the drug being tested is working or not. And this can be disastrous for people desperate for new therapies.”
Similarly, a 2013 Harvard Magazine article asserted that “researchers have found that placebo treatments—interventions with no active drug ingredients—can stimulate real physiological responses, from changes in heart rate and blood pressure to chemical activity in the brain, in cases involving pain, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and even some symptoms of Parkinson’s.”
In addition to the healing aspects of placebos, in June, Mike Adams outlined a negative placebo phenomenon which renders many double-blind drug trials invalid. This occurs when patients start suffering side effects from the legit pill, prompting them to buy in to the efficacy of the drug.
Those patients who suffer no side effects, meanwhile, decide they’re not on the “real” drug, and they mentally shut down any possibility of the drug actually working. This is a “negative placebo” effect.
It sounds bizarre, but it’s the truth: Patients in America now believe that drugs don’t work unless they generate toxic side effects. This belief system drives their mind-body reactions in drug trials, causing a gross distortion of drug trial data in so-called “double-blind” clinical trials, making it appear as if the more toxic drugs work better than they actually do.