30 March 2010

Are celebs making us hypochondriacs?

Last week we reported the news that, despite the phenomenon of ‘man flu’, women are in fact worst hypochondriacs then men. Now, we have a possible route cause - it's celebrities making us this way.

Doctors are seeing a worrying new trend: a growing number of patients self-diagnosing themselves, with the same conditions as their favourite stars – in particular when it comes to mental health.

A new report warns that since celebrities like Stephen Fry, Sophie Anderton, Russell Brand and Kerry Katona have spoken out about their bipolar disorders, people have latched onto the term, confusing normal mood swings and PMT with the serious illness. To the extent that a whole new phrase has been created – with over-anxious patients describing themselves as a ‘little bit bipolar.’ There even a Facebook page ‘Thinking Everyone Is A Bit Bipolar’ which asks, 'So everyone is a bit bipolar at some point in their life. Agree?'

Dr Chan and Dr Sireling, two NHS psychiatrists who’ve studied this trend say ‘bit bipolar’ patient’s families are encouraging them to self diagnose. Because of its famous sufferer, bipolar disorder is seen as ‘a favourable and even desirable diagnosis’ – the respectable face of mental illness - and an ‘excuse for awkward behaviour.’  

Are we really that star-struck, we’re not only copying A-lister’s hair-cuts, but their illnesses as well?

By Amy Molloy


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