General Health

IDIOT Syndrome: Stop Consulting The Internet, It’s Not A Doctor!

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on - 29 August 2022, Updated on - 23 September 2023

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In today’s time, you can find everything on the internet. No matter what you want to know, there is no information you cannot find, all it takes is a few clicks. While this has proven to be a boon in most cases, information overload has created a complicated situation in certain sectors, especially in healthcare. Who knew that too much information could be a bad thing, right? Well, it most certainly can and IDIOT syndrome is a shining example. Don’t know what that is? Read on to find out more about this curiously-named syndrome.

What is IDIOT Syndrome?

Multiple definitions of IDIOT syndrome have been proposed, all of which involve health anxiety and repeated, unnecessary online searches for health-related information. IDIOT syndrome stands for Internet Derived Information Obstruction Treatment and is medically termed cyberchondria. Many people these days take it upon themselves to research their symptoms, come up with a self-diagnosis, and take medications without consulting a doctor.

The internet is a treasure trove of useful information on an array of subjects, including various illnesses, diseases, and medical conditions. However, it is also home to plenty of sources that intentionally or unintentionally spread wrong, incomplete or unproven information. IDIOT syndrome involves self-medication and halting treatment based on blind trust in the medical information provided on the internet. It not only interferes with the doctor’s decision and advice regarding the treatment but also gives birth to several myths around the topic. 

Signs of IDIOT Syndrome

Those suffering from IDIOT syndrome can manifest a state of severe medical anxiety, which can lead to highly harmful actions. Following are some of the most common signs of this syndrome. 

  • Strong uncertainties about having a serious illness despite having minor symptoms.
  • Spending hours of compulsive, unwanted online search for medical information.
  • Feeling worried about having one or more serious illnesses.
  • Feeling distressed due to the information found online.
  • Experiencing sweating, an accelerated heart rate, or other anxiety-related symptoms while surfing online.
  • The habit of jumping to the worst possible conclusions about the existing health status.
  • Believing everything the internet has to say about various diseases, illnesses, or symptoms.
  • Mistrust of medical professionals whose advice could be obtained in person.
  • Need to seek assurance from a dependable source.


Effects of IDIOT Syndrome 

Lots of people rely on the internet to look for information about symptom ratification, precautions, medicines, disease manifestation, and even long-term cures. However, it lacks authenticity and discernment. This means that although you would come across a list of symptoms that sound like yours, one needs to consider other factors such as family and personal history to make a correct diagnosis. Doctor internet doesn’t have this ability either. 

Therefore, online searching for symptoms can quickly transform into false diagnoses and lead to even more intensive browsing, resulting in waves of anxiety.

Searching for information on the internet based on your symptoms can be pretty bad for your emotional state and increase your health anxiety. Whenever you look up a disease on the internet, the list of possible symptoms that come up is often fairly common and overlaps with multiple problems, which may have nothing to do with your health. 

Furthermore, people are self-medicating based on the information they find through internet searching, which interferes with their treatment and can make the situation potentially dangerous.

How to Deal with IDIOT Syndrome?

Following are some coping strategies that work well against IDIOT syndrome:

1. Avoid Self-shaming

Many of those suffering from IDIOT syndrome feel ashamed or uncomfortable about their habit of believing the worst about their health. This further deteriorates their anxiety and increases their physical, stress-related symptoms. Therefore, one must self-deprecate for feeling anxious about their health. While these fears can be a little difficult to share and understand, they are still valid.

2. Practice Relaxation Techniques

Practising self-taught relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, muscle-tension relaxation exercises, and guided imagery to relieve anxiety.

3. Challenge Negative Thoughts

Remind yourself that not all the information on the internet is true and that you don’t have the skills and knowledge to interpret the information correctly. Use self-analysis to get rid of negative thoughts.

4. Consult with a Doctor

If you can’t seem to get your anxiety and fears under control, consult with a doctor right away. It is always wise to get a medical opinion rather than jumping to the worst possible conclusions.

consult a doctor

IDIOT Syndrome is becoming much more widespread as the reach of technology is increasing to encompass the world. While being aware and well-informed can be helpful, consuming misinformation and taking medical decisions without consulting with a doctor can prove to be significantly harmful. So, whether you are seriously concerned about your health or just worried over something you read on the internet, make sure to consult a doctor before taking any actions or jumping to conclusions. If you need some help with the same,

Consult an Apollo Specialist


Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.

General Health

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