October 1991

Transient Hypochondriasis: A New Somatoform Diagnosis?

Author Affiliations

Department of Psychiatry University of Iowa College of Medicine Psychiatric Hospital 500 Newton Rd Iowa City, IA 52242

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1991;48(10):955. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1991.01810340087011

To the Editor.—  Barsky and colleagues1 conducted an important investigation in medical patients. They describe a group of patients with transient hypochondriacal complaints that decreased significantly over 3 weeks. Patients with transient hypochondriacal complaints had more medical morbidity, more Axis I disorder, more personality disorder, and higher levels of amplification of somatosensory perceptions. In the discussion, the authors propose investigating transient hypochondriasis as a distinct and separate diagnosis.I propose additionally investigating this phenomenon as a part of already defined DSM-III-R diagnoses.2 First, the authors do not comment on how transient hypochondriasis differs from DSM-III-R adjustment disorder with physical complaints. Supporting evidence that these disorders may be the same includes the transient nature of symptoms—adjustment disorders by definition are limited to 6 months or less. Transient hypochondriasis patients also were more medically ill, suggesting that medical illness may be the identifiable psychosocial stressor necessary for diagnosis of an

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