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Somatic Symptom Disorder

What is Somatic Symptom Disorders?
  • Somatic Symptom Disorder, also known simply as Somatic Disorder, involves the presence of significant bodily symptoms that cause emotional distress and affect functioning for six months or more.
  • People with Somatic Symptom Disorder may be extremely worried and anxious about their uncomfortable bodily symptoms. They engage in behaviours such as repeated doctor visits and seeking of reassurance and health information, which can take up a lot of time and energy.

Bodily symptoms may be:

  • General sensations like fatigue and weakness, or specific sensations like pain and chest tightness.
  • Present alone (one symptom) or with others (multiple symptoms).
  • Ranging from mild, moderate, to severe.
  • Typically present for six months or more, though they may not be continuously present.
  • Unrelated to a pre-existing medical condition, or when related, is presented in an intensity or severity that is worse than what is usually expected.

These uncomfortable bodily symptoms cause the person to develop excessive thoughts, feelings, or behaviours, which may include:

  • Constant worry and about the seriousness of the symptoms.
  • Fearing that the symptoms may be the signs of a severe physical illness.
  • Persistently high level of anxiety about health or symptoms

Excessive time and energy become devoted to these symptoms and health concerns, causing:

  • Daily functioning, such as work or family life, to be affected. 
  • The person to become emotionally distressed, develop depressive or anxiety symptoms.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy to cope with the uncomfortable bodily symptoms, to target any unhelpful beliefs and expectations that may be causing or worsening the symptoms, and to learn strategies to time and pace one's physical activities and manage stress.
  • ​Medications to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and pain that often occur with the condition.
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