Somatic Symptom Disorder


If there is really no medical explanation for the physical symptoms does somatic symptom disorder still need intervention?

Definitely, regardless if the symptoms are medically explained or not, the suffering and distress is real. Individuals experiencing a somatic symptom disorder have persistent thoughts about the seriousness of one’s symptom coupled with high level of anxiety regarding the symptoms.

They often devote a lot of time and energy on the symptoms, going for multiple medical check-ups, consulting different doctors, spending hours thinking about avoiding the illness or excessively worrying about the illness. It is highly distressful as excessive medical care utilization might be expensive but still fail to satisfy the individual or lessen their anxiety leading to heightened distress in both the patient and caregivers. Disagreement and mistrust in medical personnel’s who deny the presence of an underlying medical causation is common. It is important to seek help from a mental health professional because not only is somatic symptom disorder likely to cause significant impairment in the life of the individual but often there are comorbid conditions like anxiety and depressive disorders.

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    What are the psychological reasons behind somatic symptom disorder?

    When an individual presents with various somatic symptoms like multiple pains, numbness, aches, discomforting sensations and there is no adequate physical findings to explain the same, the clinicians look for psychological factors that can account for the symptoms. There can be many explanations behind such behaviours but some of the accepted explanations state that such problems occur in individuals who are undergoing emotional distress or psychological conflicts, difficulty in expressing emotions or articulating feelings, childhood exposure to serious illness to self or parents, excessive attention to physiological functions of the body or positive reinforcement of sick role. Another reason why some people might find it easier to convey psychological distress through bodily symptoms is due to the socio-cultural stigma attached to discourses around psychological issues.

    In view of lack of medical finding, how is a somatic symptom disorder still maintained?

    Somatic symptom disorder leads to constant distress and anxiety regarding illness, hence the individual takes measures to deal with such persistent worry. Such measures include seeking for constant medical advice, trying multiple medications even though there is minimal relief in symptoms, asking for repeated reassurance from caregivers or avoidance of any such activities that is likely to worsen the physical symptoms. The difficulties are maintained because the individuals selectively attend to minor deviance in bodily functions and are hypervigilant regarding bodily sensations thereby focusing even on the minimal variations in body functioning. Hence treatment is needed to address the presenting complaints coupled with the maintaining factors of the illness.

    What treatment is given for somatic symptom disorders?

    Management of somatic symptom disorder require detailed assessment and individualized case management. The management technique and the choice of treatment is based on the presenting complaints, precipitating and perpetuating factors.

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    • The man should be the sexual leader
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    • Role of ‘Physical strength’ or ‘Muscle power’ in sexual performance
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