Technology does many great things in our lives but “Technology overload” may lead to some unhealthy results. Maybe I should say information overload facilitated by technology. I recently read new information on Cyberchondria which may be the star wars version of hypochondria. People, including me, use the Internet to search for their symptoms and find diagnosis without any professional direction. When you think about how often physicians can misdiagnose patients imagine how often an untrained or trained person can misdiagnose themselves.
Cyberchondria is defined in Wikipedia as “the unfounded escalation of concerns about common symptomatology based on review of search results and literature online”. Studies have confirmed that Americans are using the Internet more than ever to search for information on all sorts of things including their health. While little Johnny is looking up his home work on the Internet, Mom is looking up her symptoms on some web based health site. The difference is that little Johnny doesn’t have to speculate as much as Mom. There can be hundreds even thousands of differential diagnosis for the symptoms that a patient presents. You can say that a large part of medicine involves the process of elimination. A physician or provider starts with the elimination of the most severe life threatening illnesses and moves down the differential to the less harmful and or more treatable illnesses. In most instances, according to the symptoms, the patient finds that the diagnosis is a more common treatable illness than a less common or rare untreatable illness.
Cyberchondriacs like hypochondriacs perceive that the worse is happening or about to happen. I tell people all the time that most mental illnesses are an extreme form of the norm. Everybody gets depress or anxious but some of us move on to clinical depression and anxiety that requires treatment. Have you ever had an illusion; heard voices or saw something move ? Unfortunately these symptoms are severe and uncontrollable in others who may have a psychotic disorder. When you think about substance use disorders, some folks can drink a little but others must either abstain or they dive into a world of abuse and dependency. Maybe there is a little Cyberchondriac in many of us.
I have kids and I tell them to read and gather all the info that they can and I strive to do the same. However, there is a balance in life for all of us. Many wise references speak to the fact that too much information and study can be harmful. Then there is the ole saying that too much or too little of anything is not good for you. I don’t want to take this thing to far but the point is sometimes you have to turn off the mobile phone, tablet computer, Internet, TV and go outside and get some rest and exercise. Who knows, you may just see that twitch in your right eye ease away as the distance flows beneath your athletic shoes. Of course I must give you this disclaimer: consult with your provider (not the Internet) and make sure you are fit for this exercise.