Somatization Disorder or Imitation of Hard Conditions

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Somatization Disorder
Imitation of Hard Conditions

Somatization disorder is a psychiatric disorder, which, like hypochondria, belongs to a group of somatoform psychiatric disorders (diseases of this group imitate physical diseases). Interestingly, the patients really feel severe pain, but this pain is only of psychiatric origin. Somatization disorder is more common in women, it usually starts in childhood. These patients are suspected to have a variety of diseases at first, but later on the diseases are not confirmed.

What causes somatization disorder?

There may be a lot of causes: genetic factors, psychological state as well as social environment. Somatization disorder is usualy provoked by loneliness and social isolation. Quite often, the disease is some sort of salvation, because it creates an opportunity to get some attention from doctors and relatives. In some cases the pain is some sort of defense mechanism. Probably, in subconscious level it might protect the patient from existential problems.

How does this disorder manifest?

Diffuse pain is the most common complaint in somatization disorder. The pain localizes in several different locations, for example, head, back and stomach. The pain may go with menstruations as well as sexual intercourse. Digestive disorders (irritable bowel syndrome), neurological symptoms and sexual problems are also possible. There may be a full range of symptoms, which are different in every patient.

The symptoms mentioned above occur in childhood and usually emerge during the third decade. These patients tend to visit a lot of doctors, they have various examinations done, but no one can diagnose any organic disease (the last doctor they usually reach is a psychiatrist). The most interesting part is the patient really severe some pain and other symptoms, though examinations are normal. The pain disturbs his work and quality of life. Insomnia as well as depression might accompany somatization disorder.  

What are the possible complications?

Because of many complaints, these patients experience a lot of examinations, interventions and even surgeries. All of these interventions might cause complications. Besides that, inadequately prescribed drugs (because of pain, neurological symptoms) can cause an addiction and may harm the organism in other ways.

The patient’s relationships become impaired. After all, when no organic disease is diagnosed, the patient’s relatives start to think that the patient is simulating. Eventually, as the doctors cannot confirm a diagnosis, the patient starts to feel disappointed in medicine as well as his life. Sometimes it may result in suicide.

Is somatization disorder curable?

Mostly not. Somatization disorder is a chronic disorder with its relapses and remissions. The objective of the treatment is remission, unfortunately, it is hard to achieve. The treatment is complex and usually lasts for a long time. The patient’s family doctor has an important role in the treatment, because he knows the patient the best and meets him/her the most frequently. Of course, the most effective treatment could be carried out by a psychiatrist. Psychotherapy can help a lot, and if there are symptoms of depression and anxiety, drug treatment might help too.


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