Nosophobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by an
abnormal, irrational, and intense fear or dread of having a
specific disease. Technically, there is a distinction between
nosophobia and hypochondriasis. Hypochondriasis is a
preoccupation with fears that one has a serious disease
based on a misinterpretation of bodily symptoms. In other
words, a person with hypochondriasis may not have a
specific disease in mind when worried that a serious disease
is present. A good example is a person with hypochondriasis
who is preoccupied with fears that a chronic cough may
mean that a serious illness is present whereas a person with
nosophobia would have an intense fear that the cough is
caused by lung cancer.
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Cancer is a common disease people with nosphobia fears. Other common conditions
feared by people with nosophobia are heart disease, transmitted disease through the
reproductive system, and tuberculosis (an infectious lung disease). Nosophobia is known
to be common among health care professionals (e.g., medical students) and researchers
because they spend so much time reading about the worst case scenario causes of
various signs and symptoms. This is why nosopphobia is sometimes known as medical
studentís disease. Nosophobia is sometimes referred to as cyberchondria because much
of the health information that causes the fears are based on readings on the internet (aka
cyberspace). Exposure to high levels of media coverage (on the internet or not) about
disease, risks of diseases, disease prevention methods, and other health-related
information can increase the risk of nosophobia.

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Another risk for developing nosophobia is if someone has traumatic
health problems in the past or if the person has been repeatedly
exposed to people with serious illnesses. Some people with
nosphobia also have mysophobia. Mysophobia is a common anxiety
disorder characterized by an overreaction to the slightest
uncleanliness or an abnormal, irrational, and intense fear of dirt,
contamination, or defilement through touching familiar objects. The
main form of treatment of nosophobia involves a form of
psychological counseling known as cognitive behavioral therapy in
which one learns to change their thinking about their symptoms so
that their feelings change. Relaxation techniques (e.g., deep
breathing, visual imagery) can also be helpful.
Medication designed to reduce anxiety can also be helpful. Nosophobia comes from the Greek word
"nosos" meaning "disease," and the Greek word "phobos," meaning "fear." Put the two words together and
you get "disease fear."