You ever sit in class and learn about a new disease and go, “Hey that’s what I’ve got”? It is not uncommon to find so many medical students the world over who share similar sentiments. This described feeling is actually known as ‘Medical student’s disease’.
In a literature review in an issue of the Journal of Curriculum Theory, Dr. Brian Hodges noted that the syndrome has probably been around since the 1960s and that it was present in up to 70 percent of students.
Medical Students’ Syndrome, MSS, is thought to be a sub-type of the psychosomatic condition of hypochondria where an individual has a preoccupying fear of having a serious illness despite appropriate medical evaluations and reassurances that they are indeed fine. Alternatively, it is thought to be more accurately described as nosophobia rather than hypochondriasis since the main issue is the fear of contracting diseases. In the era of the smart phone and google, this condition could equally be described as cyberchondriasis.
The syndrome may extend from medical students to other students in the health fields, and may affect staff in the health sector as well.
Being exposed to endless information, the young mind of the average medical student may be quick to align general symptoms, which may be exaggerated, with a list of symptoms that may merely suggest the possibility of a disease, with countless diseases as possible differential diagnoses. A vicious cycle is established when the student attempts to make a diagnosis solely from symptoms, and a small number will visit a clinic to make the complaints. Unsatisfied, some students may attempt self-treatment for what they may proudly announce as ‘this my arthritis’ (lol)et cetera.
For a proper diagnosis to be made, a good history is taken, after which clinical examinations may follow or laboratory investigations to rule out or confirm presumptive diagnosis. Getting this process completely right requires years of training and practice. This casts doubt on the fact that your perceived constipation of three days’ duration is likely to be due to colon cancer. It’s fair to say this is probably the reason why medics are not supposed to treat themselves.
While fears exist about the possibility of living with a disease as a medical student and knowing, worrying about a disease you may not actually have, can lead you to develop other symptoms. Not many people make this progression according to a TMJ article but it is worth noting that this anxiety is often irrational.
We got a few responses from students who tied their symptom to a diagnosis and some of them were actually funny.
Take a look;)