Someone with a somatic symptom disorder (SSD) experiences physical symptoms, such as pain or fatigue, which cannot be fully explained by (1) a general medical condition, (2) substance use, or (3) another mental disorder.The somatic symptoms are either very distressing or result in significant disruption of functioning. Also, the person must experience excessive and disproportionate thoughts, behaviours, and feelings regarding those somatic symptoms. These symptoms must be present for at least 6 months. Somatic symptom disorders, formerly known as somatization disorder, is treatable with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) , and in some cases with brief psychodynamic interpersonal psychotherapy (PIT) . Approximately 5.6% of people reaches subthreshold SSD in their lives ,, and more women than men develop this mental disorder ,,. One in two people with somatic symptom disorder report childhood traumatization by a primary caretaker , which suggests that PTSD treatment may be beneficial for these people, which is supported by research, although preliminary . This page explains what somatic symptom disorder is and how you can recognize it. Also, on this website you can find information about its causes, treatment, facts, you can fill in an online SSD questionnaire and read how to cope with SSD yourself.
At Barends Psychology Practice, we offer (online) therapy for somatic symptom disorder. Contact usto schedule a first, free of charge, online session. (Depending on your health insurance, treatment may be reimbursed).
Recognizing somatic symptom disorder
Not everyone who experiences distressing somatic symptoms meets the criteria for somatic symptoms disorder (SSD). These somatic symptoms have to be accompanied by either a persistent high level of anxiety regarding the symptoms or health in general, or devote a lot of time and energy to these symptoms or their health, or must have excessive thoughts and worries about these symptoms.
Examples of somatic symptoms are:
Blushing or flushing
Pain during intercourse
SSD usually develops between adolescence and early adulthood. SSD is most prevalent among 20 year olds . Certain somatic symptoms are more common among people aged 45 and older: erectile dysfunction, loss of memory, deafness, joint pain, pain in extremities, palpitation, or urological problems .
When to seek professional help
It is important to reach out to a professional (psychiatrist, psychologist) if you recognize most of the above stated definition. If you have the feeling there is something not quite right, it’s better to contact a professional. In general, the longer people experience mental health issues, the higher the chance that these mental health issues worsen over time.
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