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Obsessed with possible ALS ?

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So about three weeks ago my friend started saying that they were convinced that they had ALS do to a muscle twitch in their tongue and a perceived slurring of the letter 's' in their speech which no one else can hear. They are 25 and have no history of this disease in the family and besides these two symptoms they have seen no further symptoms since they have noticed the twitch in their tongue about 2 months ago. My concern is that this has become an obsession with them to the point that they are compulsively repeating words over and over to try and hear the slur in their words. This has progressed to an almost constant "tic" with my friend repeating or randomly coming up with words and saying it over and over until they are told to stop. Even then they will whisper to themselves when they think people aren't listening. They have also recently started recording themselves on their cell phone when they think people aren't watching and then excuse themselves to the bathroom so that they can listen to the phone recording and try to hear the slur in their 's'. On top of that my friend also spends hours of their day (they are going to school finishing their Bachelor degree and is currently on vacation)looking at different ALS websites and well often break off a conversation to go check on the website for any updated information. My friend finally went to a family doctor and has begun the process of getting a family doctor but in the mean time I feel that this obsession is taking over their life. Prior to this event my friend has had similar issues with other diseases (SARS, Birdflu, etc) but never to this degree. I personally am worried that they are under too much stress (last year of university, university has been on strike for three weeks before Christmas holidays and looks like the strike will continue into the new year, their grandmother has been diagnosed with terminal cancer (which his aunt died from when he was younger), troubles getting a job due to the recession and worries that he will be unable to pay back his student loans) to name a few of the most prominent stress factors in their life right now. I've been telling them that they are suffering from either OCD (which he seems to fit under the obsessive thoughts and actions but the fixation doesn't seem to meet any of the types of OCD listed) or hypochondria. Should I be more worried about the ALS or should I continue pushing them to explore an anti-anxiety medication?
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replied January 24th, 2009
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Sounds like a hypochondriac to me. I also have my moments like this from time to time.. .hehe. The best thing you can do is to remind your friend that the human body is an incredible machine capable of overcoming most problems on its own, and that the brain can play tricks on us.

I would not even encourage you to prescribe any other diagnosis like OCD or anything. All of these diagnoses just lead to taking pills to get rid of a supposed problem instead of trying to address the core issues - why do we feel like there is something wrong with us? are we stressing ourselves to death when we should be looking for ways to live a more healthy and natural life?

What if all of this pain and dis-sattisfaction is just the consequence of our own behaviour?

After all - it's easier to take a pill and forget about our own behavior than it is to take responsibility for our lives.

If this was my friend, I would tell them to chill the heck out, and spend more time outside in nature.

BTW - You can also make fun of their hypo... it helps to uplift their spirit and to realize how ridiculous it is to live in perpetual fear.

All the best!
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