Tuesday, July 19, 2016

# Somatic Symptoms Disorder

It is common to feel weak in the knees before a crucial event or develop a headache merely from thinking about a taxing assignment.These instances illustrate the fact that mind and body are intimately intertwined.It is easy to brush off paltry effects of tension but this very phenomenon can engender untold distress when it is aggravated.

Some people experience a large number of physical complaints or a couple of pain-related ones which cause them a lot of suffering;so much so that their thoughts,emotions and behavior center around those symptoms.Even normal bodily sensations alarm them and they are convinced that they have a terrible disease.Their complaints may fluctuate,but they never feel completely healthy.

They will talk endlessly about the state of their health and give vivid descriptions of their complaints.They spend a lot of time and energy chasing their health concerns.It is an endless occupation for them.So much so that their daily routine is drastically disrupted and they become dysfunctional.Even pleasurable activities hold no charm for them.#Anxiety about their health devours everything.What is remarkable is,that their #worries and 
#fears are out of all proportion to their symptoms.

They visit many doctors and undergo various tests but negative results or the doctor's assurances fail to pacify them.It is almost as if they are looking for a confirmation of their fears, but in reality,they do not suffer from any physical illness.

It is important to note that they do not fake these symptoms;they do feel the pain and the discomfort.This condition is known as Somatic Symptoms Disorder,which in effect means that there is no physical cause to explain the manifested symptoms.This disorder mostly begins before the age of thirty years and afflicts more women than men.The symptoms could range from minor aches and pains or gastrointestinal disorders to other more serious ones.Generally,the patient consults a health professional only after having suffered those symptoms for a long time.This retards recovery. 

The most likely explanation is, that when  psychological or emotional pressures breach someone's tolerance threshold they come out in the guise of bodily symptoms.The sufferer fails to realize that it is the mind which is playing tricks on her and consults a number of doctors to get relief.She is unaware of the emotional storms which rage in her subconscious mind and attributes all her symptoms to a nameless disease.
1)Genetic or Biological--The patient has heightened sensitivity to pain or bodily sensations.
2)Negative Personality--Distorted,catastrophic thinking or a pessimistic strain precipitates fears of suffering from a terrible disease.
3)Inability to process Emotions--Somatic symptoms disorder in such cases is the result of an inability to cope with psycho-social stress which that person is not capable of looking squarely in the face.
4)Family Influence--Maladaptive behavior of family elders could predispose a child to behave similarly.
5)If a child,or even an adult,feels neglected,insignificant,or uncared for in his environment;s/he could unconsciously develop the habit of magnifying common complaints in order to gain attention.                                       Treatment
The best treatment for this disorder is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

The therapist helps the patient to realize how her cognitive distortions are projecting a false picture of her health.

She is guided to have reasonable expectations of her health and not be alarmed by normal bodily sensations.

She is encouraged to delve into the psychological and emotional problems which could be causing those symptoms.

She is taught how to reduce the symptoms.

She is also taught how to mitigate stress.

If she suffers from #depression then that too is taken care of.

She is encouraged to take up once again,the activities which she had relinquished for fear of getting hurt or sick.

Family Therapy forms an important part of treatment.It aims at resolving hidden conflicts in the patient's family and also educates the members to treat the patient with care and patience since their support and understanding are vital for her recovery.

When the problem is severe medicines will soothe the patient's anxiety but they should be used only for short-term benefits.The real solution lies in extracting the thorns which are pricking the patient's psyche.

This disorder entails certain risk factors.In order to rule out possible complications, it is essential that there should be a good interface between the doctor and the patient.The latter should have complete faith in the former so that s/he does not undergo unnecessary procedures or ingest clashing drugs through consulting a number of health professionals or charlatans.At the same time, the doctor has to be alert to symptoms which could point to a real disease.

Even when the doctor diagnoses Somatic Symptoms Disorder the patient hesitates to accept it because of the stigma attached to mental disorders.Some will downright reject this possibility.But unless and until they accept this fact they will continue to roam in the wilderness of multiple complaints and repetitive consultations.

A word of caution--just as the mind influences the body,the body too has repercussions on the mind.Some people experience chronic unexplained physical symptoms like gastric disorders or persistent pain,and since they have suffered these symptoms for a long time they do feel considerable distress because of them.Even if no biological cause is found for these symptoms,such persons should not be labeled as suffering from a mental disorder in haste.
Related post:--
Resource:-- http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/mental-health-disorders/somatic-symptom-and-related-disorders/somatic-symptom-disorder


  1. Psychosomatic disorders are very common, glad you wrote this. Doctors are unable to diagnose and the patients suffer as no one understands their agony. It's a vicious circle.

    1. True Alka,this condition,though not life-threatening,can make life miserable.

  2. it reminded me of the story by Sukumar Roy named "Rajar osukh"(Disese of a King).

  3. There is a whole lot of new thinking and procedures that needs to be worked on still. Whatever is there in cognitive area is not very much aligned with the wholesomeness and therefore the success rate of cognitive interference in patients with more than milder form of the disorders is very low.

    I see here that your interest in also in genetic anomalies. There is a complete abstract and fiction write of mine on this. Please have a read whenever you get time and suggest me with your valuable feedback.


  4. One needs a lot of determination and support to come out of such disorders,mind is hard to tackle.

  5. I think media has a huge role to play too...In the name of health consciousness there are too many articles out there and though some are truly informative some have very superficial or false information and are prone to fill the readers mind with dread...and overflow of such information also contributes I think...

    1. You are right Jaishree,the internet CAN give us the jitters.
      But if we are emotionally anchored,it will not develop into a mental disorder.
      Thanks for this input :)

  6. Most of the time most diaereses we suffer mentally. And as written in the previous comments internet and media play vital roles

    1. Well said Ranjana,we suffer many diseases only in the mind.

  7. Like always very informative and a useful read!

  8. Society at large is going through a stressed up phase.
    Even kids from 1st standard are stressed for homework .
    I am from old school,if we remained a joint family ,half of these issues would never have crept up.

    1. You are right Chowla ji.Thanks for stopping by.


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