Growing boreliosis anxiety and its reasons
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Psychiatr Pol 2010;44(6):895–904
At the beginning of the XXIst century the Internet became one of the most important sources of information. Medicine and health are the main topics of discussion on numerous forums and portals. Authors of the following article took the trouble to investigate Polish forums concerning Lyme disease. A typical Googlesearch of the Polish Internet reveals 77 forums with boreliosis threads. The largest (ca. 700 threads) and mostly quoted (26/77, which states for 34% all forums contained references to it) of all the forums is entitled 'borelioza' and it is hosted by (,1.html?f=26140). It was founded and it is still run by the Boreliosis Patients Association. The Association disseminates ideas of ILADS, which presents boreliosis as a chronic, serious disease and also supports diagnostic and treating recommendations, contradictory to the standards of renowned medical authorities. People searching the Internet for the information on boreliosis are very likely to come across the webpages referring to the forum of the Association. As a result they might encounter faulty recommendations of I LADS. Members of the Association induce one another with hypochondriac fantasies of a disease, sometimes exceeding the limits of a delusion. The Association promotes faulty convictions about the internal enemy - boreliosis, incompetent and unfeeling doctors protecting it, and propose to unite in common defence. Such actions are a perfect encouragement for all somatization prone patients to undertake activities destructive to their health. It also leads to irrational social behaviour, which can be described as an induced hypochondria. Conclusion: The Internet has become a source of many unreliable information on boreliosis, which may potentially impose a serious threat to patients' health. While counselling the patients who affiliate their chronic symptoms with boreliosis, do not forget the possibility of induced anxiety disorder, hypochondria, or a propagated distrust to the doctors and pay more attention to the patients.