Somatic Symptom Disorder
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What is Somatic symptom disorder?
Somatic symptom disorder is a condition in which the physical pain and symptoms a person feels are related to psychological factors. These symptoms can’t be traced to a specific physical cause. In people who have somatic symptom disorder, medical test results are either normal or don’t explain the person’s symptoms.
People who have this disorder may have several medical evaluations and tests to be sure that they don’t have another illness. They often become very worried about their health because they don’t know what’s causing their health problems.
Their symptoms are similar to the symptoms of other illnesses and may last for several years. People who have somatic symptom disorder are not faking their symptoms. The pain that they feel is real.
What are the symptoms of somatic symptom disorder?
People with somatic symptom disorder may have several physical symptoms. This can include pain and feeling tired.
People with somatic symptom disorder excessively worry about their symptoms or illness, have a high level of anxiety about their symptoms, or think the worst about their symptoms, even when proven otherwise. It may become so extreme that health concerns take over their lives, even affecting relationships with others.
CAUSES & RISK FACTORS
What is the cause of somatic symptom disorder?
No one knows exactly why symptoms of somatic symptom disorder appear. In some cases, there may be a problem with the nerve impulses that send signals of pain, pressure and other unpleasant sensations to the brain. We do know that the pain and problems caused by somatic symptom disorder are real, they are not imagined.
Like many medical problems, somatic symptom disorder often runs in families. They also tend to come and go over time.
How is somatic symptom disorder treated?
Treatment focuses on helping the person who has the disorder to live as much of a normal life as possible, even though they may still have some pain or other symptoms. Fortunately, somatic symptom disorder will not shorten a person’s life.
Your healthcare provider may be able to prescribe medicine for some of your symptoms, but in many cases you will not need medicine. Treatment may also include cognitive behavioral therapy.
Seeing your healthcare provider for regular checkups is the most important part of your treatment. Your healthcare provider will tell you how often they need to see you. You may feel frustrated if your symptoms continue, but remember that somatic symptom disorder can be very difficult to treat. Your healthcare provider will do their best to help you maintain your health.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
- If I have somatic symptom disorder, are my symptoms all in my head?
- What is the likely cause of my disorder?
- What is the best treatment option? Do I need therapy? Medicine?
- Will lifestyle changes, such as learning how to manage stress, help relieve my symptoms?
- How often do I need to visit for check-ups?