When Hypochondria Stresses Your Marriage


Sometimes recognizing hypochondria takes a little time.

It wasn’t until Rebecca Serrano (not her real name) had been married for a full year that she realized her new husband had a problem. Once, he was convinced he had worrying that you might be overlooking a serious illness all take their toll.

Seranno finally laid down the law and made her husband see a doctor, who put him on medication used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. While it’s still an almost nightly battle to get him to take his pills, he’s become a happier person. “As his wife, I feel as though it’s my responsibility to help him live the best life possible,” Serrano says, “even if that means a little tough love from time to time. You do what you can to help them.”

Do you think your beloved has hypochondria? If so, take these four steps:

Check up. First, get your spouse to see a doctor you trust, says Fallon. Seeking a second opinion is fine, but if both doctors agree there’s nothing physically wrong, suggest a visit to a psychiatrist.

Be caring but firm. Carla Cantor, author of Phantom Illness: Shattering the Myth of Hypochondria, recommends helping your spouse tie symptoms to stress, or emotional upheavals.

Don’t dwell on illness. Encourage your spouse to verbalize fears about health, but don’t join in, Cantor advises. If you feel yourself getting anxious, gently change the subject.

Consider couples therapy. While cognitive behavioral therapy can help the person with hypochondria, examining how the disorder affects your relationship will help you work together to battle it.