A friend recently called me in a panic, like a voice-shaking, lump-in-her-throat level panic.
"I think I have vitiligo," she confessed.
She had noticed some spots on her skin were darker than others, and while researching her symptoms, she had fallen into an internet black hole.
As we were talking, she went to wash her hands in the sink and noticed the spots disappearing like hair dye.
Turned out she forgot about the self-tanner she'd slathered all over herself earlier that day.
If you've ever googled your symptoms, you've probably done something along the same lines.
It's a common thread among hypochondriacs to either obsessively research symptoms on the internet or to avoid all medical information out of fear of triggering the anxiety associated with it.
Ironically, it's the anxiety hypochondriacs bring upon themselves that heightens their risk of getting sick.
According to a recently published Norwegian study of more than 7,000 people who were assessed over a period of 12 years, those who had "health anxiety" increased their risk of developing heart disease by 70 percent.
If you are a hypochondriac, you've probably diagnosed yourself already, as hypochondriacs are wont to do.
The good news is, there are steps you can take to change your behavior.
First, you could go to a doctor to eliminate any actual chances of illness.
Once physical illnesses have been eliminated, you could ask your doctor to assist you in finding a mental health practitioner to try to help with possible anxiety or depression, or to point you in the direction of any self-help resources.
The other interesting aspect of this study is, it speaks to the power of your belief systems.
If believing you are sick can actually make you sick, imagine what believing you are healthy, powerful and successful could do for your body, mind and career.
Remember, people, you are an infinite, unlimited being, and the universe is conspiring to benefit you... unless you have other plans.