Preoccupation by a person with his or her general state of health or the condition and function of a particular organ. Hypochondria often is linked with obsession and depression and may be a symptom of a specific mental illness. Complaints usually involve the abdominal organs; the person insists that there is a malady, against all reassurance by the physician. Often he exaggerates the intensity of normal physical sensations, or describes bizarre discomforts. He cannot admit that his troubles are not due to physical illness and rarely agrees to seek psychiatric help. He is liable to damage himself by taking excessive medication, and in some severe cases there is a risk of suicide.

Hypochondria is a personality disorder that may become manifest from adolescence onward. The origins of the disorder may lie in childhood experiences, however, particularly where illness may have been used successfully as "emotional blackmail" or as a device to secure attention.