Understanding Somatic symptom disorder

Understanding Somatic symptom disorder

Imagine being in pain or having some form of physical distress and every time you visit the doctor; they can find anything wrong.

You appear healthy, but the physical symptoms or problems you are experiencing are very real to you. This is close to how a person with somatic symptom disorder feels. Thoughts are focused and constant on the symptoms, the cause of which cannot be diagnosed by a doctor. On the other hand, a medical condition may already exist, but the response to symptoms are similar, producing a focus on symptoms that is not normal.

These focused thoughts can, in turn, lead to anxiety and ultimately affect your normal day to day living. This can then negatively affect family members and lead to problems at work.

Somatic Symptom Disorder can occur in children, teenagers as well as adults. Children might experience the disorder more intensely, as their understanding is limited and are unsure of what is happening to them. This type of disorder can also cause depression in adolescents. Teenage mental health is already fragile at this stage, so seeking medical help as soon as possible is important.

To diagnose the disorder, doctors need to do several tests. This helps to rule out any other causes before providing a proper diagnosis.

When to see a doctor

When dealing with physical symptoms, this should always be taken seriously as it could become serious if ignored. If you are uncertain as to why you are having certain symptoms, go and see a doctor. Your doctor can then help you discover what the problem is and if somatic symptom disorder is suspected, they can then refer you to a psychiatrist or mental health clinic.

Just because a doctor cannot diagnose a physical problem, doesn’t automatically mean you have somatic symptom disorder. The disorder is mainly identified by the way a person thinks. To what extent do you think about your physical symptoms? Is it overwhelming and taking over your every thought?

Do you find that your thoughts, emotions and behaviour are beginning to affect your day to day life? These are major red flags when it comes to diagnosing somatic symptom disorder.