Somatic Symptom Disorder: Symptoms and Causes

Somatic symptom disorder patients believe that they have a serious disease. But in reality, doctors can’t see anything wrong about their health.

somatic symptom disorder

Also referred to as somatization disorder or somatoform disorder, somatic symptom disorder ranges from mild to severe. A patient with the disorder expresses severe obsession with natural symptoms and senses. Somatic symptom disorder patients also believe that they have a serious disease. When in reality, doctors can’t see anything wrong about their health. Knowing the symptoms and causes are important to their treatment. And treatment is essential to save them from experiencing severe emotional stress.

A study in the American Family Physician assesses its prevalence in primary care patients. The report finds somatic symptom disorder in 5% to 7% of primary care patients. It also reviews the chances of the disorder progressing through time. The study claims that 20% of those with acute symptoms had a chronic somatic disorder in the long run.

Researchers also analyze its impact on the different ages of people. It argues that the disorder can affect adults, teens, and adults. It does not discriminate anyone. Above all, it looks at the ratio of female to male patients. The study argues that females are more prone or at risk to have the symptoms.


What are the Symptoms of the Psychological Disorder?

Patients with somatic symptom disorder complains about runny nose or similar mild symptoms. They also seek help for symptoms that will not point doctors to any known disease or disorder. Another sign is they complain of symptoms that are more severe than the actual ones. Psychologists or medical professionals should also observe intense or constant anxiety.

Another sign to watch out is they request more medical tests than the standard procedures. This is because they think that doctors fail to find their true disease. Patients with somatic symptom disorder are also super worried about the very simple treatment side effects.


What are the Risk Factors or Causes of Somatic Symptom Disorder?

Medical experts believe pain sensitivity and other genetic traits to be among the causes of the disorder. Having trouble managing stress is another cause of the disorder. A patient with negative affectivity is also prone to be having somatic symptom disorder. The same goes with those who have low emotional awareness.

Suffering from depression and anxiety increases a person’s odds of developing the disorder. Another risk factor to look at is the traumatic experiences of the patient. Those who are also recovering from a serious disease are at risk of this condition. This is for the reason that the patient has severe fear because of what he or she has gone through to survive.


How Do Doctors Confirm a Case of Somatic Symptom Disorder?

The initial step is the thorough physical evaluation. Medical professionals will conduct the examination to confirm any diseases or disorders that the patient may have in reality. The goal here is to eliminate the possibilities of underlying serious illnesses affecting the patient.

The next step is to refer the patient to a psychiatrist if there are no signs of diseases or disorders. The mental health expert will interview the patient. Details about his or her family history, stress sources and symptoms are important to proper diagnoses. Psychiatrists may also ask for possible substance abuse. This is because it can affect the mental state of the patient.

A mental health expert will confirm the condition if a patient exhibits non stop thoughts about the symptoms. Doctors will also look at whether the symptoms vary through the days and last for at least half year. This is because it signals that the patient has the psychological disorder.


What Are the Different Ways to Treat Patients With Somatic Symptom Disorder?

Psychotherapy is one of the most effective ways to treat people with the disorder. There are different forms of psychotherapy to perform. Among them is cognitive behavioral therapy that helps assess irrational thinking. Psychiatrists will then help the patient work or address the real causes of his or her disorder. The goal here is to help patients have the rational thinking to manage their stress. Psychiatrists may also offer techniques to treat their depression and anxiety if needed.

Mental health experts will also prescribe medications to patients. Antidepressants are among those that treat severe anxiety and other correlated psychological disorders. As the results of cognitive behavioral therapy progress, antidepressants may be put to stop to prevent side effects.


What Will Happen If the Condition Persists?

Family members of those with somatic symptom disorder must watch over the patients as untreatment will result to serious complications. These complications will affect the daily lifestyle and overall health of patients.

A perfect example of the possible complication is that patients will have difficulty maintaining good relations. This will affect the way they deal with family members and friends. Patients may think that they cannot trust their loved ones because they are lying to them.

In terms of money, managing the condition for a long time will cost the family too much. Medical costs are just on the side. What will impact the family is that the patient will have a hard time keeping a job.


My Personal Thoughts About Somatic Symptom Disorder

A patient with somatic symptom disorder is in constant battle. It is difficult and challenging to live in a world where you think that everything around you is something worth worrying about. My realization is that patients can fight this condition alone. Family members and friends play an important role in the treatment of patients. Their support together with the guidance of an effective therapist will help boost the quality of life of patients. Without these two and the regular intake of medications, patients won’t succeed.

Somatic symptom disorder is not something that we encounter everyday. The statistics of patients with this condition is low. Yet, we should know that this disorder is a serious one. This is why immediate treatment is important to avoid the complications.

What also matters when dealing with the disorder is the commitment of patient to get well. Patient’s determination to improve oneself is essential to fight off the disorder and not let the condition threaten their daily dose of happiness.

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