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What is an IDIOT syndrome? Know how to recognise the condition

IDIOT syndrome is a real and growing issue in today's society, fueled by the constant need for information and the pressure to self-diagnose. It's important to recognize the signs and seek help if needed to avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety.

Written By: Kristina Das @ New Delhi Published on: May 22, 2024 7:15 IST
IDIOT syndrome
Image Source : FREEPIK Know how to recognise IDIOT syndrome.

In this digital age, we have access to endless amounts of information at our fingertips. With just a few clicks, we can search for our symptoms and instantly be presented with a plethora of potential diagnoses. While this easy access to information can be helpful, it can also lead to a phenomenon known as IDIOT syndrome.

What is an IDIOT syndrome?

IDIOT (Internet Derived Illness Obstructive Treatment) syndrome, also known as Cyberchondria is a term used to describe the excessive or irrational fear of having a serious medical condition based on online information. It is a form of health anxiety that is fueled by the internet and can lead to unnecessary worry, stress, and even self-diagnosis.

According to the India Today report, the World Health Organisation (WHO) calls this situation "Infodemic" which has created a complex situation in healthcare.

The syndrome is a result of too much information in digital environments during the outbreak of a disease that has caused mistrust in health authorities, as per the report published in PubMed.

Causes of IDIOT syndrome

The rise of cyberchondria can be attributed to the growing popularity and accessibility of online health resources. Gone are the days when we would solely rely on our doctors for medical information. Now, we turn to Google or health websites for answers to our health concerns. While this may seem like a convenient and time-saving approach, it can also have negative consequences.

Symptoms of IDIOT syndrome

Cyberchondria, often known as IDIOT syndrome, is a phobia associated with the internet that arises from using online health resources. This is when someone has "excessively or unreasonably fearful" feelings of getting a certain disease.

According to the researchers who studied IDIOT syndrome, "There is a growing demand for public education on what, where, and how to look up a diagnosis and a cure online."

So how can you recognise if you or someone you know may be experiencing cyberchondria? Here are some signs to look out for:

  • People with cyberchondria have a habit of constantly checking various websites for information about their symptoms. They may spend hours conducting online research, trying to find a diagnosis for their symptoms.
  • Those with cyberchondria tend to believe the worst when it comes to their health. They may convince themselves that they have a serious or life-threatening illness, even if their symptoms are mild and can be easily explained.
  • Cyberchondria can cause individuals to experience persistent worry and anxiety about their health. 
  • People with IDIOT syndrome may be hesitant to seek medical advice from a professional. They may rely solely on online information and self-diagnose instead of consulting a doctor.
  • They may tend to exaggerate their symptoms, making them seem more severe than they are. This can lead to unnecessary stress and worry.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting these signs, it may be time to seek help and address any underlying health anxiety or cyberchondria. Remember, the internet can be a great resource, but it should not replace professional medical advice. Trust in the expertise of healthcare professionals and don't let cyberchondria control your life.

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