Somatoform Disorders and Symptoms How to Overcome Them

A human mind goes through several psychological conditions that sometimes result in physical symptoms. These can include behavioral changes, certain desires or addictions, or bodily pains. This cause and effect of mental conditions as physical expressions are called Somatization. And, extreme results due to specific psychological conditions are known as somatoform disorders or somatic symptom disorders, SSD. There are types of somatoform disorders that are classified according to their symptoms.

What are the 5 Somatoform Disorders and Symptoms

SSD includes Somatization disorder, conversion disorder, hypochondriasis, body dysmorphic disorder, and pain disorder.

What is Somatization Disorder

This disorder shows physical symptoms such as headache, nausea, tiredness, abdominal pain, menstruation problems, or sexual issues. The psychological cause for it has not yet been discovered but is assumed to be a need for care and attention.  The disorder sometimes runs in the genes.

Conversion Disorder

The conversion disorder indicates an effect on the brain or nerves. It results in severe neurological diseases such as deafness, complete loss of vision, weakness, or paralysis. The cause for such disorder can be a response to a stressful situation. Usually, these symptoms end within two weeks, but in rare cases, they stay for long.

In Hypochondriasis, the patient starts having a sense of fear or anxiety regarding minor symptoms that their body is showing, considering it a dangerous disease. It is similar to somatization disorder, but in this case, minor symptoms like headache, a mild rash, or even tummy ache, are considered as results of severe bodily disease by the patient. They sometimes get so affected by the fear that even a doctor’s reassurance does not help.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder causes one to spend most of their time concerning the defects in their physical appearance. Those defects can be visible or even imaginary. BDD also causes people to avoid social situations and go to crowded places. The condition can even go to the extent where suicidal thoughts could appear in the patient’s mind due to the distress it causes. BDD is quite similar to OCD, but BDD patients have comparatively greater suicidal tendencies and depression.

Pain Disorder

Pain disorder is where a person experiences pain without having any physical explanation for it but for some psychological reason. It can include chest pain, which is mainly a response to stress or shock. A heavy migraine is also a form of such disorder as it also occurs due to psychological conditions such as extreme stress or anxiety.

How to Diagnose it?

SSD can be diagnosed by going through the complete medical history of the patient and thorough analysis about every aspect that symptoms could affect. It includes the patient’s fears, concerns, stressful situations, problems, health issues, and addictions.

One is likely to have SSD if showing more than two symptoms. It is also not negligible how much a person is concerned about one’s health conditions and physical appearance. If it is extreme and the anxiety and distress are affecting one’s daily life, one should go for treatment.

How To Treat Somatoform Disorder

The treatment aims to work on the symptoms, and since they are a result of the psychological conditions, they are the ones treated initially.  Psychotherapy can be an effective way to cope with SSD as it helps to examine the physical symptoms and reduces stress. It also plays a part in reducing the avoidance of situations and helps to confront one’s insecurities about health and existence. Lastly, it helps in addressing other mental disorders.

Besides that, antidepressants with proper prescriptions are also helpful in such disorders. It will be a slow process but help in improving the symptoms. There are also some self-helping tasks one can perform. Engaging oneself in activities would help in being more productive in daily life and cause the symptoms to affect less on one’s functioning abilities.  Also, it is significant for people experiencing SSD to avoid seeking help from everyone. Instead, they should find a care provider and stick with them because too many opinions can cause distress.


It seems that a large group of people goes through SSD nowadays unknowingly. These have become so immediate and common comparatively that they are not considered a big deal. It shows the significance of diagnosis because only then they can be treated properly.  But considerably, it’s a good thing that people can even help themselves.  Because if we consider it, SSD is kind of self-created to some extent and should be self-treated as well. The human mind is full of thoughts and curiosity that can heavily have an impact on one’s daily life if not kept in control.

Samantha Kindler

Samantha Kindler is a world traveler, with four continents conquered and three remaining. She lives in Hawaii, where she enjoys hiking and has the beach available to her throughout the year. She recently got the opportunity to spend over ten months in Korea and fell in love with their minimalist way of life. She has driven to 49 states with her father, but upon visiting Hawaii, she just wanted to stay.

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