Dealing with Hypochondria as a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Beneficiary

October 2, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Perhaps you suffered a Charlotte workplace accident or illness that left you severely sick or otherwise physically incapacitated. Or maybe you endured a “chronic” injury, such as a typing injury you sustained while working as a secretary of a bank in the Research Triangle.

In any event, you crave a return to good health. When you don’t feel good, nothing else really matters. You can have a billion dollars, a castle in Spain, and fame and glory; but if you can’t get out of bed because your spine hurts, all of that fame and fortune is worth a hill of beans.

North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiaries (or people who want said benefits) often go through a period of becoming far more aware of their bodies following the illness/accident/event. Speculation abounds about why this takes place. Some people argue that the injury/illness increases the salience of the physical body. Others suggest that people who are forced to take time off of work have less to preoccupy themselves with – so they find new “stuff” – like an obsession with their bodies – to fixate on.

Psychology aside, hypochondria can be a real problem for this population.

After all, if you’re legitimately hurt/ill, you have a real medical problem. You might also be waiting for test results or waiting to see how rehab or medication will impact your health. These uncertainties can create a kind of mental tension, which your mind naturally “works on” by hypothesizing both catastrophic outcomes (e.g. “what if it’s terminal cancer?”) as well as grandiose hypotheses (e.g. “if this rehab tech works, I’ll be back to work in two months, rather than 12!”)

It would be glib to suggest that hurt workers moderate their expectations.

Easier said than done!

But it may behoove you to test the reality (or lack thereof) of your thoughts. You may also find it hugely helpful to keep a health journal, so you can objectively identify whether your hypochondriacal musings have any merit. If they don’t, you can use “the facts” that you’ve recorded in your journal to assuage yourself when the anxiety/depression starts.

Of course, your own insights should never be substituted for the ongoing guidance of a wise, licensed physician. Likewise, your own intuition about how/whether you might be able to recover benefits should not be considered a substitute for a consultation with experienced and well recognized Charlotte workers’ compensation law firm.

 
 

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