Did you know that somatic symptom disorder affects between 5% to 7% of the population? Though this type of mental illness is quite common many people don’t know much about it. Somatic symptom disorder, or somatization disorder as it was previously called, can be challenging to deal with.
Often this stems from the fact that it’s impossible to trace to a single cause. This can cause huge emotional stress and turmoil for the individual experiencing it. In this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about the disorder. We’ll also provide you with some resources on treatment options. Let’s get started!
What Is Somatic Symptom Disorder?
Somatic symptom disorder is a form of mental illness that causes a variety of physical symptoms in the individual. While these symptoms, like pain, may feel real to the individual, doctors aren’t able to trace the symptoms to any sort of physical cause. When this happens, individuals with the disorder often end up thinking they have a medical condition they don’t have.
They believe this even when the doctor reassures them that they’re fine. This causes the person with somatic symptom disorder a lot of stress. Not only because they’re experiencing some sort of symptoms, but they also feel that no one believes them. In the past, somatic symptom disorder what known as somatization disorder.
However, this condition required a certain amount of somatic symptoms to be classified as such. Because of this, they merged somatization disorder with undifferentiated Somatoform Disorder.
The resulting condition, somatic symptom disorder, doesn’t require a specific number but instead relies on severity. If you want to learn more about the disorder, then make sure to check out this guide here.
What Are the Symptoms of Somatic Symptom Disorder?
There can be a variety of signs that indicate whether or not a person has somatic symptom disorder. However, the most common one is symptoms that don’t seem to relate to any medical conditions. Often, these symptoms are more extreme than they typically are with people who have a condition. Individuals with the disorder also experience constant anxiety about whether or not they have the condition.
Another sign of the condition is worrying too much about normal or minor physical conditions. For example, thinking that a runny nose is a sign of something much more serious. People with somatic symptom disorder also have a deep distrust of medical professionals.
Often they think their doctor is lying to them, or accidentally misdiagnosing them. To prevent this, they often see multiple healthcare professionals multiple times. This disorder is often characterized by obsessive tendencies, like repeatedly examining your body for signs of additional symptoms.
Does Anything Cause the Disorder?
Unfortunately, medical professionals still aren’t completely sure what causes somatic symptom disorder. However, there are some promising theories, though they are wide-ranging. One explanation is genetics. Some people simply have a higher sensitivity to pain than others. These individuals seem more likely to develop the disorder.
The disorder can also develop in people that have a negative self-image of themselves. Perhaps that’s why it’s so common in people with depression and anxiety. The condition also seems prevalent in people with decreasing emotional awareness. When this happens, people often supplement physical issues for the emotional ones they use to experience.
Somatic symptom disorder can also come from learned behaviors. For example, if someone has gotten attention from things like disabilities or illnesses in the past, then they empathize with it to get attention again. Finally, the condition is also prevalent with people who’ve experienced past trauma.
How Do You Diagnose Somatic Symptom Disorder?
Before diagnosing somatic symptom disorder, a medical professional will typically perform a physical exam to make sure that the symptoms aren’t coming from a physical illness. If the doctors, or doctors, can’t find anything wrong, then they’ll recommend that your or your loved one consults with a mental health professional.
This person will diagnose you by asking you questions or providing you with a form to fill out. These questions will likely ask you about your symptoms, stressors, history of substance abuse (if any), and family history.
Most of the time, an official diagnosis will follow if you experience one or more symptoms over six months. They will also factor in symptoms like endless, stressful thoughts spent worrying about illness.
Somatic Symptom Disorder Treatment
Unfortunately, there’s typically no easy fix for somatic symptom disorder. Instead, professionals typically rely on psychotherapy to help address the disorder. Specifically, they often utilize cognitive-behavioral therapy. This is helpful with somatic symptom disorder since it allows patients to think about negative or irrational thoughts.
Then, when they see these types of negative patterns appearing in their life they can calmly address them. In addition to therapy, many individuals with the condition can also benefit from certain types of medication. For example, antidepressant medication has been known to lessen the effect of the disorder while also reducing anxiety.
Ideally, this type of medication will be temporary. As the individual learns valuable skills in therapy, they can gradually begin lowering their dosage until they don’t need it anymore.
Need Treatment For Somatic Symptom Disorder Treatment? Contact D’Amore Healthcare
We hope this article helped teach you more about somatization disorder, or somatic symptom disorder. If you or someone you love has somatic symptom disorder, then you know how hard it can be to deal with. Diagnosing the condition can be difficult, and treatment requires intensive psychotherapy.
As such, it’s important to find a treatment center that understands everything about the disorder. So how do you find one? If you live near Orange County, then look no further than D’Amore Healthcare.
We believe that no two mental conditions are the same. That’s why we offer a personalized and holistic approach to mental health treatment. If you’re interested in learning more about D’Amore Healthcare, then make sure to check out some of our frequently asked questions today.