Cyberchondria: towards a better understanding of excessive health-related Internet use

Expert Rev Neurother. 2013 Feb;13(2):205-13. doi: 10.1586/ern.12.162.


Looking for information about symptoms and illnesses on the Internet is common and often serves useful purposes. However, a number of people who are overly distressed or anxious about their health perform excessive or repeated health-related searches on the Internet, only to become more distressed or frightened - a pattern defined here as cyberchondria. This behavior, which can also be construed as a form of reassurance seeking and occurs as a manifestation of health anxiety and hypochondriasis, is the focus of this article. The antecedents of cyberchondria, factors that maintain it and its consequences are examined conceptually and in light of the relatively little research that has been performed so far. Managing cyberchondria poses a challenge, and several approaches as part of the treatment of health anxiety and hypochondriasis are described. The article makes suggestions for further research on cyberchondria.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypochondriasis / diagnosis*
  • Hypochondriasis / therapy*
  • Internet*