Authors do not agree about how hypochondriasis should be conceptualized.(7) Some look upon it as a personality trait;(8) its early onset in some patients and long-term stability fit this conception. Others view it as a dimension of other psychopathology. Hypochondriacal symptoms accompany many psychiatric disorders, where their occurrence appears to be a matter of degree. For those who take a categorical approach, the issue of whether hypochondriasis is primary or secondary remains unsettled/2,,9) although it is frequently a secondary feature of other disorders. Also, high rates of comorbidity create doubt about its independent status. However, recent empirical research, especially in primary care, has shown hypochondriasis to be a valid diagnosis (see below).

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