Somatic Symptom Disorder:
Somatic symptom disorder (SSD) is a type of mental disorder that is characterized by excessive preoccupation and anxiety about one or more somatic symptoms (physical symptoms such as pain, fatigue, or gastrointestinal issues) that may not have a clear cause. This preoccupation and anxiety can lead to significant distress and impairment in daily functioning.
SSD was previously known as somatoform disorder, but the criteria for diagnosis have changed under the updated classification of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), and it is now considered a somatic symptom disorder.
People with SSD may go through extensive medical evaluations and treatments to find a cause for their symptoms, but the symptoms are not fully explained by a general medical condition. They may also experience maladaptive thoughts, behaviors, and emotions, such as anxiety, depression, and a high level of health anxiety, which are related to the symptoms.
It’s important to note that SSD is not the same as having a medical condition that causes physical symptoms, but rather a disorder characterized by excessive worry and anxiety about physical symptoms, experiencing distress and impairment in daily functioning can be a result of this.
Is somatic disorder and conversion disorder the same?
Somatic symptom disorder (SSD) and conversion disorder are related, but they are not the same.
Conversion disorder is a form of somatoform disorder, which is a condition in which psychological stress is expressed through physical symptoms. It is characterized by the presence of one or more sensory functions that cannot be explained fully by a general medical condition.
Somatic symptom disorder (SSD), is a condition characterized by excessive preoccupation and anxiety about physical symptoms, which can lead to maladaptive thoughts, behaviors, and emotions, such as anxiety, depression, and a high level of health anxiety, which are related to the symptoms. In summary, conversion disorder is a subtype of somatoform disorder.
If you want to read more about conversion disorder, visit our website.
What are the symptoms of somatic symptom disorder?
Symptoms of somatic symptom disorder (SSD) can vary depending on the individual, but some common symptoms include:
- Excessive worry and stress over one or more somatic symptoms may not have a clear cause.
- Experiencing significant anxiety about physical symptoms, causing distress and making it hard to carry out daily activities.
- Maladaptive thoughts, behaviors, and emotions related to the symptoms.
- A tendency to seek multiple medical evaluations and treatments for somatic symptoms.
- Symptoms that are not explained by a medical condition or by the effects of a substance.
- Avoidance of activities or situations due to the fear of experiencing symptoms or causing worsening of the symptoms.
- The disproportionate level of attention and focus on the physical symptoms.
- Difficulty in accepting medical explanations for the symptoms
How to diagnose somatic symptom disorder?
The diagnosis of somatic symptom disorder (SSD) is made by a mental health professional, typically a psychiatrist or psychologist, based on a thorough evaluation of the individual’s symptoms and medical history. The Diagnosis is made in accordance with the criteria for somatic symptom disorder in the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
The psychological health professional may ask about the individual’s symptoms, including the onset, duration, and severity of the symptoms, as well as any associated thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, during the evaluation. They may also ask about the individual’s medical history, including any past medical evaluations and treatments and any current medications or supplements.
The psychological health professional may also conduct a physical examination and may refer the individual for further medical evaluations to rule out any underlying general medical conditions that may be causing the symptoms.
It’s important to note that the diagnosis of SSD requires the exclusion of the symptoms being fully explained by a medical condition or substance. It’s important to seek professional help if you suspect you may have an SSD. A proper diagnosis and treatment can help to reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life.
Treatment for somatic symptom disorders?
Treatment for somatic symptom disorder aims to reduce symptoms and recover normal function. Treatment options for somatic symptom disorder (SSD) include:
- Psychotherapy: The primary treatment for SSD is psychotherapy, specifically a type of therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which aims to change thoughts and behaviors related to somatic symptoms, reducing anxiety and depression and improving overall functioning.
- Medications: Antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications would be prescribed to help reduce the common symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other emotional difficulties associated with SSD.
- Coordination with medical care: It is important for individuals with SSD to have coordinated care with a general practitioner or specialists to eliminate any underlying medical conditions and to ensure that the individual is not receiving unnecessary medical treatments.
- Mind-body techniques: Yoga, meditation, and relaxation techniques can be valuable in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and other physical symptoms such as pain and fatigue.
- Supportive therapy: Supportive therapy, such as support groups, education about somatic symptom disorder, and other resources to assist individuals in coping with symptoms and improving their overall quality of life.
It’s important to note that treating SSD may involve multiple therapies and medications over an extended period of time. The goal of treatment is to help the individual manage their symptoms, reduce their distress, and improve their overall quality of life. A multidisciplinary approach, including coordination with medical care, is essential for proper treatment.
What Causes Somatic Symptom Disorder?
The exact causes of somatic symptom disorder (SSD) are not fully understood. Research suggests that a combination of psychological, biological, and social factors may contribute to the development of SSD.
Psychological factors: SSD is thought to be related to how an individual processes and interprets physical sensations and symptoms. Individuals with SSD may have a heightened sensitivity to physical sensations and may interpret symptoms as more severe than they are.
Biological factors: Research suggests that SSD may be associated with changes in certain brain regions and chemicals that regulate pain, stress, and emotional processing. Genetic factors may also play a role in the development of SSD.
Social factors: Exposure to traumatic or stressful events, such as physical abuse or sexual abuse, war, or natural disasters, may increase the risk of developing SSD. Socioeconomic status, culture, and access to healthcare may also be associated with the development of SSD.
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Who is Dr. Nibras?
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