Somatoform Disorder is a form of mental illness in which a patient experiences physical symptoms that cannot be fully explained by any underlying general medical condition.
People who have been diagnosed with a somatic symptom disorder, medical test results are either normal or do not explain the person’s symptoms. Physical examination do not indicate the presence of a known medical condition.
The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other areas of functioning.
TYPES OF SOMATOFORM DISORDER
This condition is diagnosed when people have neurological symptoms that cannot be traced back to a medical cause. For example patients may have symptoms such as;
- loss of sensation or numbness
ILLNESS ANXIETY DISORDER
Formally known as hypochondriasis, the person is preoccupied with the fear of having a serious disease based on the person’s misinterpretation of body symptoms. For example they may believe that a common headache is a sign of brain tumor.
BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER
The afflicted person is concerned with body image, and is manifested as excessive concern about and preoccupation with a perceived defect of their physical appearance.
It is characterized by pain as the predominant focus of clinical attention.
It is a poly symptomatic disorder and is characterized by a combination of pain, gastrointestinal, sexual and pseudo neurological symptoms such as diarrhea, headaches, nausea, vomiting etc.
SIGN AND SYMPTOMS
Recurring physical complaints usually begin before age 30. Most patients have multiple somatic symptoms. The symptoms themselves or excessive worry about them is distressing or disrupts daily life. some patients become overtly depressed.
Health concerns often assume a central role in patient’s life. Patient may become dependent on others, demanding help and emotional support and becoming angry when they feel their needs are not met.
Individual with this disorder often believe that they are not getting proper care and may strenuously resist referral to mental health settings.
They may feel unsatisfied if they are told that they did not have any physical explanation for their problem or their level of distress is excessive. stress often leads patients to become more worried about their health and this creates a vicious cycle that can persist for years.
TREATMENT OF SOMATOFORM DISORDER
DISCUSSING THE DIAGNOSIS
This is the most important treatment step. A lot of practice and fore taught is needed. The psychologist must first build a therapeutic alliance with the patient by acknowledging the patient discomfort and maintaining a high degree of empathy toward the patient during all encounters.
A strong doctor patient relationship is key to getting help with somatoform disorder.
The focus of treatment is on improving daily functioning. Stress reduction is often an important part of getting better. So, relaxation techniques, meditation and hypnosis can help.
Some cognitive behavior therapist teach patient to identify the thoughts and feelings that are associated with changes in physical symptoms. They may help an individual to reduce the tendency toward “body scanning” or the constant monitoring of body sensations.
Journaling is a critical component of CBT in treating somatization disorder. Regular journaling by the patient can reveal dysfunctional beliefs that may be driving his or her health anxieties. Patterns of automatic thoughts are then identified.
Patients can improve when they recognize dysfunctional behavioral patterns and learn alternate coping strategies.
Psychoeducation can be helpful by letting the patient know that physical symptoms can be exacerbated by anxiety or other emotional problems.
FAMILY & FRIENDS COUNSELLING
Family and friends counselling is also needed. So that family members should not become preoccupied with the patients physical symptoms or medical care. Family members should direct the patient to report symptoms to their psychologist.
– Copyrights (c) Psychologist Aasia Mujtaba