"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Somatoform disorders: symptoms, types and treatment

Somatic symptom disorder (SSD, formerly often known as “somatization disorder” or “somatoform disorder”) is a type of mental illness that causes a number of physical symptoms, including pain. Symptoms could also be as a result of a physical cause, including general illness, other mental illness, or substance abuse. But regardless, they cause excessive and disproportionate burdens. Symptoms can affect a number of different organs and body systems, resembling:

  • pain
  • Neurological problems
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Sexual symptoms

Many individuals with SSD also suffer from an anxiety disorder.

People with SSD don’t fake their symptoms. The distress they feel from pain and other problems is real, whether or not a physical explanation may be found. And the burden of symptoms significantly impacts day by day functioning.

Doctors must perform many tests to rule out other possible causes before diagnosing SSD.

A diagnosis of SSD could cause a whole lot of stress and frustration for patients. They may feel dissatisfied when there isn’t any higher physical explanation for his or her symptoms or after they are told that their distress as a result of a physical illness is simply too great. Stress often causes patients to turn into more concerned about their health, making a vicious cycle that may last for years.

Several illnesses related to SSD at the moment are described in psychiatry. These include:

  • illness anxiety disorder (formerly called hypochondria). People with this kind fear that they’re affected by a serious illness. You may imagine that minor discomfort is an indication of very serious medical problems. For example, they imagine that frequent headaches are an indication of a brain tumor.
  • Conversion disorder (also called functional neurological symptom disorder). This condition is diagnosed when people have neurological symptoms that should not as a result of a medical cause. For example, patients may experience the next symptoms:
    • Weakness or paralysis
    • Abnormal movements (e.g., tremors, unsteady gait, or seizures)
    • blindness
    • hearing loss
    • Loss of sensation or numbness
    • Seizures (so-called nonepileptic seizures and pseudoseizures)

Stress often worsens conversion disorder symptoms.

  • Other specific somatic symptoms and related disorders. This category describes situations through which somatic symptoms occur for lower than six months or may involve a selected condition called pseudocyesis. This is a girl's false belief that she is pregnant, together with other outward signs of pregnancy, including an expanding belly. Labor pain, nausea, fetal movements; breast changes; and cessation of menstruation.

Patients who experience SSD may hold the assumption that there’s a physical cause underlying their symptoms, although there isn’t any evidence to support a physical explanation. Or if an illness is causing their symptoms, they might not realize that the extent of distress they’re feeling or showing is excessive. Patients can also reject any suggestion that psychiatric aspects play a task of their symptoms.

A powerful doctor-patient relationship is essential to helping with SSD. Seeing a single healthcare provider with experience coping with SSD can enable you to avoid unnecessary testing and treatment.

The focus of treatment is on improving day by day performance reasonably than relieving symptoms. Stress reduction is usually a crucial a part of recovery. Advice from family and friends will also be useful.

Cognitive behavioral therapy might help relieve symptoms related to SSD. Therapy focuses on correcting:

  • Distorted thoughts
  • Unrealistic beliefs
  • Behaviors that increase anxiety