Talking point – are women the real hypochondriacs?

26 March 2010

For any woman who’s experienced first-hand the whingeing which accompanies man flu, it will come as surprising news. According to a new survey, it’s actually us who are bigger hypochondriacs than men.
The Office for National Statistics have found that it’s women who complain more about their health than men. Apparently, we say we’re in ‘poor health’ even if we’re suffering from something mild, whereas men only complain if they’re suffering serious problems.
But what does this really mean? Does it mean we’re typical hypochondriacs – prone to exaggerating our symptoms and claiming we’re dying of a brain tumour at the first sign of a headache? This doesn’t tally with our experience, in which it’s often men who enjoy wallowing in their illnesses, begging us to pander to their every whim while they lie around in bed moaning. Aren’t we the ones soldiering on, dragging ourselves into the office/ around the supermarket, in spite of a 100 degree temperature?
Or does this survey really reveal something else entirely – that women are just more sensible when it comes to looking after their health while men put off going to the doctor? As women, we’re used to listening to our bodies and we often know when something’s up. Maybe that’s the real reason for us being quicker to report our concerns.  
What do you think? Are we the real hypochondriacs or do men still beat us for hands-down when it comes to complaining?       
- Polly Dunbar


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