Somatoform Disorders

Somatoform Disorders describe the presence of physical symptoms that suggest a medical condition, but that, in fact, are caused by a substance or by another mental disorder. Somatization Disorder, Undifferentiated Somatoform Disorder, Pain Disorder, Hypochondriasis and Body Dysmorphic Disorder and all Somatoform Disorders.

Somatization Disorder involves a history of many physical complaints that begin before age 30, occur over a period of several years, and require treatment. The complaints cannot be explained by a general medical condition or by use of a substance. There is a history of pain related to at least four different sites in the body (including head, abdomen, back, joints, extremities, chest, or rectum) or bodily functions (menstruation, sexual intercourse, urination); two gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea); one sexual symptom (sexual indifference, erectile or ejaculatory dysfunction, irregular periods, excessive menstrual bleeding); and a pseudo-neurological symptom (impaired balance, localized weakness, difficulty swallowing, lump in the throat, urinary retention, double vision, blindness, deafness, or seizures). After investigation, none of these symptoms can be explained by a general medical condition or direct effects of a substance.

Undifferentiated Somatoform Disorder is one or more physical complaints (chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal symptoms) lasting for six months or longer. These symptoms cannot be fully explained by a general medical condition or direct effects of a substance. The symptoms cause significant distress and discomfort in social and occupational settings.

Conversion Disorder affects voluntary motor and sensory functions that might suggest a neurological or other medical condition. These symptoms include impaired balance, localized weakness, difficulty swallowing, lump in the throat, urinary retention, double vision, blindness, deafness, seizures, and hallucinations.

Pain Disorder is pain that is the predominant focus of a person affected and is severe enough to warrant clinical attention. The pain is not intentional or made up and causes significant distress in social and occupational settings.

Hypochondriasis is the belief or fear, based on misinterpreting one or more bodily signs or symptoms, that one has a serious disease or ailment. These concerns can persist even after medical evaluations indicate that there is, in fact, no such disease or ailment present. The concerns can become preoccupation and involve bodily functions (heartbeat or sweating), minor physical abnormalities (a small sore or occasional cough), or with vague ambiguous sensations (“tired heart” or “aching veins”). There may also be preoccupation with a single organ or specific disease.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a preoccupation with a defect in one’s physical appearance. Complaints commonly involve imagined or slight flaws of the face or body. An individual may unable to describe the “defects” in detail and instead may refer only to a general ugliness. Feelings of self-consciousness about the “defect” may lead to avoidance of work, school, or other public situations.

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