Encourage Psychiatric Consultation

The nature of the disorder means that patients often present to family and medical doctors but are avoidant of seeing psychiatrists. Where Illness Anxiety Disorder is suspected, however, every effort should be made to encourage the patient to see a psychiatrist. Rather than telling patients that they should see a psychiatrist because their symptoms have “no physical basis” (which will likely result in the patient refusing to go down this route), useful statements can be:

“These symptoms are really affecting you and I can understand it’s frustrating that we can’t find a clear cause. Would you consider seeing a psychiatrist to explore the effects of these problems on your life, and to see if there’s anything else we can do to help?”

“Some treatments offered by psychiatrists, such as talk therapy or medication, can help in coming to terms with the effects of medical conditions. This is true even where we haven’t identified a clear medical cause. Would you be willing to consider seeing a psychiatrist?”

“There’s a lot about the human body that we don’t understand. It might be helpful for you to see a psychiatrist to help come to terms with these uncertainties and frustrations, especially as we haven’t identified a clear physical cause for your concerns. Would you consider seeing a psychiatrist?”

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