Somatoform Disorders are mental health disorders in which a patient has physical or mental symptoms that a medical disorder or substance use cannot explain. Patients who suffer from this type of disorder perceive their symptoms to be real and strongly believe they have similar illnesses.
Sufferers believe they are ill; they are not feigning their symptoms and are genuinely suffering. It has been called Hysteria and thought to come from extreme mental suffering manifested by a physical disorder. The root of these disorders is believed to be caused by problems with nerve impulses that send signals of pain, pressure and other unpleasant sensations to the brain. An individual’s life will not be at risk or shortened because of one of these disorders.
Common Somatoform Disorders
Somatoform disorders are not curable, but symptoms can be managed with proper treatment. Psychotherapy and stress management are recommended to help with the possible psychological factors that may be inducing physical effects on the body. Somatoform disorders are a group of disorders that cover a wide range of different unexplainable symptoms.
Symptoms of numbness, seizures, hearing loss, inability to speak, blindness or paralysis without a neurological reason indicate Conversion Disorder. It is thought that extreme anxiety is converted into physical symptoms and that stress causes the brain to disable or impair bodily function.
When suffering from Pain Disorder, patients experience chronic pain in one or many areas of the body. In some cases, the pain can be so severe that it is debilitating. Pain disorder is thought to come from psychological stress from an illness or accident that the patient has recovered from.
Somatization Disorder is characterized by a patient who complains of various symptoms that are unexplainable. These symptoms include chronic pain in parts of the body, gastrointestinal problems, sexual symptoms and pseudo-neurological symptoms such as fainting or blindness. It is thought to come from a disconnection between the mind and body.
Hypochondriasis is a disorder in which sufferers constantly worry about perceived symptoms and are convinced they have a serious illness The affected person may have a headache or another minor symptom and think they have a brain tumour or another serious illness. Their symptoms are usually minor, but the hypochondriac will continue to self-diagnosis and self-examine even though doctors tell them they do not have a severe illness.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
This is when the affected person is excessively concerned over a perceived defect in their physical features and obsesses over it. The sufferer may complain of several specific features or a single feature or general appearance, causing psychological distress that impairs occupational and social functioning, sometimes causing severe depression and anxiety and the development of other anxiety disorders, social withdrawal or complete social isolation.
Other Specified Somatic Symptom Disorders
Somatoform disorder is a diagnosis used for symptoms that meet required criteria not all.
- Brief somatic symptoms disorder
- Brief illness anxiety disorder
- Illness anxiety disorder without excessive health-related behaviors.