Somatoform disorder is someone who appears to have a physical medical ailment but doctors cannot find the origin of the illness. For something to categorize as a Somatoform Disorder, the physical symptoms must be serious enough to interfere with the patient’s employment or relationships, and must be symptoms that are not under the patient’s voluntary control. In general, somatoform disorder deals with the physical aspects of unknown illnesses, and on the other hand, dissociative disorders deal with the patient’s sense of identity or memory. There are seven different kinds of somatoform disorders, each with their own description, or way to be identified. The major problem with somatoform disorders is that it is very hard to recognize and treat because the illness is well camouflaged to appear like normal illnesses. This would create situations where people are being treated for sicknesses that they do not really have, which is an overuse medical services and resources.
Somatization disorder, used to be known as Briquet’s syndrome since he was the man who first recognized it, require four symptoms of pain, two symptoms in the digestive tract, one symptom involving the sexual organs, and one symptom related to the nervous system. Somatization disorder is a chronic disorder that is persistent throughout a person’s life and is likely to appear in families.
Conversion disorder is a condition that the patient’s senses, ability to walk, or move are impaired without a medical, neurological disease, or cause. Instead, psychological factors are believed to be the causes. Typically, the disorders appear when the patient is under stress or trauma and the disorder rears its head to try to get the patient out of the situation. When speaking of conversion disorders, doctors may refer to the primary or secondary gain, which is the effect that the disorder has on the patient’s lives.
Pain disorder is where the patient suffers from chronic headaches, back problems, arthritis, muscle aches and cramps, or pelvic pain. In some cases, the pain comes from psychological factors only, and in other cases, there is a mix of psychological factors, and an actual medical condition. Sadly, this disorder is relatively common in the United States because of the frequency of work-related injuries.
Hypochondriasis, formerly known as hypochondriacal neurosis, is where the someone has excessive fear or preoccupation with having a serious illness in spite of medical testing and reassurance.
Body dysmorphic disorder is the preoccupation with an imagined or exaggerated defect in one’s appearance. The patient can be preoccupied with any part of the body, but typically would be with the face, hands, or their breast or genitals. Is probably the only somatoform disorder where men and women have equal occurrences of the disorder.
There have been many theories as to what the causes of the disorders are. Family stress is believed the most common cause of these disorders in children and adolescents. Somatization disorder and hypochondriasis may surface from the patient’s unconscious reflection of parent’s behaviors. This is likely if the patient’s parent derived secondary gain from their symptoms.
Somatoform disorders patients can be given antianxiety or antidepressant drugs if diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorder. However, most believe that it is better not to give the patients any drugs as treatment, but in some cases, it has been very successful. Alternative treatment such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy, therapeutic massage, meditation, botanical medicine, and homeopathic treatment can help people with pain or somatization disorders would be able to ease their pain, and soul in some situations.