Illness anxiety disorder: Treatment and prognosis
- James L Levenson, MD
James L Levenson, MD
- Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Surgery
- Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
Medical and psychiatric care of illness anxiety disorder combines general strategies for patient management with specific therapeutic interventions. However, some patients do not respond and have a poor prognosis.
This topic reviews the treatment and prognosis of illness anxiety disorder. The epidemiology, clinical presentation, assessment, and diagnosis of illness anxiety disorder are discussed separately, as are the clinical features, medical evaluation, and treatment of somatization. (See "Illness anxiety disorder: Epidemiology, clinical presentation, assessment, and diagnosis" and "Somatization: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical features, medical evaluation, and diagnosis" and "Somatization: Treatment and prognosis".)
TERMINOLOGY AND DSM-5
Illness anxiety disorder is a diagnosis (table 1) that was introduced with publication of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) in 2013 . The clinical features and diagnostic criteria are discussed separately. (See "Illness anxiety disorder: Epidemiology, clinical presentation, assessment, and diagnosis".)
Illness anxiety disorder was derived in part from the diagnosis of hypochondriasis, which was eliminated from DSM-5. In DSM-5, patients previously diagnosed with hypochondriasis are nearly always diagnosed with either somatic symptom disorder (if physical complaints are prominent) or illness anxiety disorder (if physical complaints are minimal or nonexistent). Although relatively few studies of illness anxiety disorder have been published, there is a larger literature on the symptom of health anxiety, defined as persistent unrealistic worry or conviction about having an illness. The spectrum of health anxiety ranges from none to severe, with the severe end representing a clinical endpoint (such as illness anxiety disorder or hypochondriasis) [2-4].
In the previous edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (Fourth Edition, Text Revision; DSM-IV-TR), the term hypochondriasis (table 2) described patients who misinterpreted one or more bodily symptoms and believed that they had a serious disease or were preoccupied with fear of a disease, despite appropriate medical evaluation and reassurance . Both the DSM-IV-TR diagnosis of hypochondriasis and the DSM-5 diagnosis of illness anxiety disorder include patients who believe that they have a serious disease or are preoccupied with fear of a disease, despite a normal physical examination, negative tests, and reassurance [1,5].
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