Somatic symptom disorder is a form of mental illness that causes one or more physical symptoms, including pain. Symptoms may or may not be the traceable to a physical cause including general medical conditions, other mental illnesses, or substance abuse. But regardless, they cause the excessive and disproportionate levels of distress. Symptoms can include one or more different organs and systems of the body, such as:
- Neurological problems
- Gastrointestinal complaints
- sexual symptoms
- Many people who have an SSD will also suffer from an anxiety disorder.
People with SSD do not pretend to have symptoms. Their distress with the pain and other problems they face is real, regardless of whether or not a physical explanation can be found. The distress caused by symptoms greatly affects daily functioning.
Doctors need to perform several tests to rule out other possible causes before diagnosing an SSD
An SSD diagnosis can create a lot of stress and frustration for patients. They may feel dissatisfied if there is no better physical explanation for their symptoms or if they are told that their level of distress about a physical illness is excessive. Stress often causes patients to become more concerned about their health, and this creates a vicious cycle that can last for years.
Disorders related to somatic symptom disorder
Several conditions related to the SSD are now described in psychiatry. These include:
Illness anxiety disorder (formerly known as hypochondriasis)
People with this type are preoccupied with worrying that they will become seriously ill. They may think that minor complaints are signs of very serious medical problems. For example, they may think that common headaches are a sign of a brain tumor.
Conversion disorder (also called functional neurological disorder)
This condition is diagnosed when the people have neurological symptoms that cannot be traced back to a medical cause. For example, patients may experience symptoms such as:
- weakness or paralysis
- Abnormal movements (such as tremors, unsteady gait, or seizures)
- hearing loss
- Loss of sensation or numbness
- Seizures (called epileptic fits and pseudo-epilepsy)
- Stress usually worsens conversion disorder symptoms.
Other specific physical symptoms and related disorders
This category describes situations in which physical symptoms occur for less than six months or may involve a specific condition called pseudocentesis, a misconception by women that they are pregnant along with other external signs of pregnancy, including an enlarged abdomen; Feeling of labour, nausea and fetal movement. Breast changes and menopause.
Treating somatic symptom disorders
Patients with SSD may hold to the belief that their symptoms have an underlying physical cause even though there is no evidence of a physical explanation. Or if a medical condition is causing their symptoms, they may not realize that the amount of distress they are experiencing or appear to be exaggerated. Patients may also dismiss any suggestion that psychological factors play a role in their symptoms.
A strong doctor-patient relationship is key to getting help with solid-state treatment. Seeing one healthcare provider who has experience managing SSD can help reduce unnecessary tests and treatments.
The focus of treatment is on improving daily functioning, not controlling symptoms. Reducing stress is often an important part of getting better. Counseling for family and friends may also be helpful.
The Cognitive behavioral therapy may help relieve symptoms associated with SSD. Treatment focuses on correcting:
- distorted thoughts
- unrealistic beliefs
- Behaviors that fuel anxiety
Personality DisordersDisruptive patterns in mood, behavior, communication with others, and thinking in general can cause significant stress and inability to function.
Adult Eating DisordersAdult eating disorders are typically triggered by past trauma deriving from a single event or the accumulation of many small traumatic events.
Obsessive Compulsive & Related DisordersCharacterized by patters of unwanted fears and thoughts that lead to repetitive behavior, obsessive-compulsive disorder interfere heavily with daily activities.
Somatic Symptom DisorderThe manifestation of physical symptoms due to mental trauma or illness is a serious matter. This includes the development of chronic pain leading to excessive levels of distress.
Social Communication DisorderSocial communication disorders affect a large number of people today and can be as simple as difficulties in managing eye contact, facial expressions and body language.
Internet Gaming DisorderMany underlying issues can contribute to internet addiction and gaming disorders, and identifying the underlying issues is the first step in addressing the disorder.
Adult Sleep-Wake DisordersIssues with sleep are one of the most common clinical problems we face, and can greatly affect the overall health, safety, and quality of life.
Adult Autism Spectrum DisorderTypical symptoms blamed on autism such as avoidance, hyper vigilance and reduced cognitive ability can also be hallmarks of chronic stress reactions to past trauma.
Adult ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)EMDR Therapy is appropriate for adults wishing to treat Adult ADHD - the therapy is a treatment that helps you change your behavior by changing your troubling thought processes.
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) & Mental Health Service Provider (MHSP) in Tennessee
As a licensed Mental Health Services Provider (MHSP) in Tennessee, I work with a variety of adult patients currently experiencing mental health issues. For most clients, I typically recommend both traditional therapies as well as innovative treatment methods like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing. This type of treatment for mental health issues is safe, very effective and can change your life.
Steven Lepley LPC, MHSP
Licensed in Tennessee
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, Mental Health Services Provider & EMDR Therapist offering virtual telemedicine appointments throughout all of Tennessee.
Ask me about my experience & how I can help you address the challenges you are facing. Call me or text me at 615.330.2659.