Somatic symptom disorder (SSD) is a mental illness that is characterized by the presence of physical symptoms that are not caused by a physical illness or injury. People who have SSD often experience extreme anxiety and distress because of their symptoms, even though there is no medical explanation for them. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss all aspects of SSD including its causes, symptoms, treatment options, and more!
- 1 What Is Somatic Symptom Disorder?
- 2 Symptoms of Somatic Symptom Disorder
- 3 Causes of Somatic Symptom Disorder
- 4 Negative Impacts of Somatic Symptom Disorder
- 5 Diagnosis of Somatic Symptom Disorder
- 6 Treatment of Somatic Symptom Disorder
- 7 Dealing With Somatic Symptom Disorder
- 8 Conclusion
- 9 A Word From Therapy Mantra
What Is Somatic Symptom Disorder?
Somatic symptom disorder is a mental disorder characterized by one or more somatic (bodily) symptoms that are distressing or disruptive, and by excessive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to these symptoms. The disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe.
This disorder is mostly seen in people around the age of 40 to 60 and is more common in women than men. People also tend to have a family member with the disorder. Somatic symptom disorder can lead to disability and a lower quality of life. It can also be associated with anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
It is also important to note that somatic symptom disorder is different from other mental disorders, such as anxiety disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and depression. These disorders also have somatic symptoms, but the symptoms are not the main focus of the disorder. In addition, people with these disorders do not usually have the excessive thoughts and behaviors associated with this disorder.
Symptoms of Somatic Symptom Disorder
Signs and symptoms of somatic symptom disorder may include:
Pain is one of the most common symptoms of somatic symptom disorder. The pain can be constant or come and go, and it can vary in intensity. It may be localized to one area or affect your whole body. It also may not be relieved by medication or other treatments.
Fatigue is another common symptom of somatic symptom disorder. It can be so severe that it interferes with your ability to carry out daily activities. Fatigue also may not be relieved by rest or sleep.
Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath is another common symptom of this disorder. It may feel like you can’t catch your breath, even when you’re resting. You also may have chest pain or a rapid heart rate.
Digestive problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation, also are common in people with this disorder. These symptoms also may not be relieved by medication or other treatments.
Headaches are another common symptom of this disorder. They may be dull or throbbing and can vary in intensity. You also may have neck pain or dizziness.
Sexual problems, such as a loss of interest in sex or problems with sexual function, also are common in people with somatic symptom disorder.
As you can see, there are many different symptoms associated with somatic symptom disorder. While some people may only experience a few of these symptoms, others may experience all of them. Like symptoms, there are many causes of somatic symptom disorder as well.
Causes of Somatic Symptom Disorder
There are many causes of somatic symptom disorder:
Anxiety And Depression
Anxiety and depression are one of the most common causes of this disorder. People with anxiety and depression often have physical symptoms, such as pain, fatigue, and digestive problems. People with anxiety and depression also tend to worry a lot about their physical symptoms and may have difficulty relaxing. It can also be difficult for them to stop thinking about their symptoms.
Stress is another common cause of somatic symptom disorder. This can be caused by a variety of things, such as work, family, and finances. When you’re under stress, your body releases hormones that can lead to physical symptoms, such as pain and fatigue. Stress also can make it difficult to relax and may cause you to worry more about your physical symptoms.
Illness is another common cause of this disorder. Many illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, can cause physical symptoms, such as pain and fatigue. People with an illness often worry about their health and may have difficulty relaxing. They also may have difficulty accepting that their illness is the cause of their symptoms. These illnesses can be difficult to treat and may cause a person to have this disorder.
Trauma or violence
Trauma or violence is one other cause of somatic symptom disorder. People who have been through a traumatic event, such as a car accident or the death of a loved one, may develop somatic symptom disorder. People who have been subjected to violence, such as rape or assault, also may develop this disorder. These events can be difficult to cope with and may cause a person to have somatic symptom disorder.
Abuse is something that has been linked with the development of this disorder. People who have been abused, either physically or emotionally, often have physical symptoms, such as pain and fatigue. There are also many psychological symptoms of abuse, such as anxiety and depression. Abuse can be difficult to cope with and may cause a person to have somatic symptom disorder.
Negative Impacts of Somatic Symptom Disorder
There are many negative impacts of this disorder. One of the most significant is the impact on a person’s quality of life. Some of these are:
Difficulty In Day-To-Day Activities
Somatic symptom disorder may make it difficult to perform day-to-day activities. For example, going to work or school may be a challenge. There are also difficulties with social activities and relationships. Sometimes people are also unable to participate in activities they once enjoyed.
Loss of productivity
Another negative impact of this disorder is the loss of productivity. This can be at work, school, or home. People with somatic symptom disorder often have difficulty concentrating and may not be able to complete tasks. This can lead to lost opportunities and financial problems.
Personality disorders are another negative impact of this disorder. People with somatic symptom disorder often have difficulty managing their emotions and may act impulsively. This can lead to problems in relationships and at work.
Sometimes there are problems in relationships because of this disorder. People with this disorder may have difficulty communicating with their partners. They may also withdraw from social activities and isolate themselves. This can lead to problems in the relationship and may eventually lead to divorce or separation.
Diagnosis of Somatic Symptom Disorder
The diagnosis of this disorder requires that an individual experience at least one somatic symptom that is distressing or disruptive to daily life. The individual must also have persistent thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to the somatic symptoms. These may include excessive worry about the consequences of the symptoms, avoidance of activities or places due to fear of exacerbating the symptoms, and/or constantly checking for signs of the symptoms.
A diagnosis of this can be made by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional. The diagnosis is made after a thorough evaluation which includes a clinical interview and review of medical records. It is important to rule out other potential causes of the somatic symptoms before making a diagnosis of somatic symptom disorder. It is also important to note that somatic symptom disorder is not the same as having a medical condition. A diagnosis of somatic symptom disorder should only be made if the distressing or disruptive somatic symptoms are not caused by another medical condition and are not better explained by another mental health disorder.
Treatment of Somatic Symptom Disorder
The treatment of somatic symptom disorder usually involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Some of these treatment options are:
Medications are typically used to help relieve symptoms associated with these disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and pain. Some of the medications that may be prescribed include:
-Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
-Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
Psychotherapy is often used in conjunction with medication to treat these disorders. Some of the different types of psychotherapy that may be used include:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This therapy is aimed at helping you change the way you think about and cope with your symptoms.
Interpersonal therapy (IPT): This therapy focuses on your relationships and how they may be affecting your symptoms.
Psychodynamic therapy: This therapy focuses on exploring the unconscious factors that may be contributing to your symptoms. There are also many other types of therapy that can help to treat somatic symptom disorders, such as art therapy, music therapy, and yoga.
It is important to remember that treatment for somatic symptom disorder is highly individualized and what works for one person may not work for another. It is important to work with your doctor or therapist to find the best treatment approach for you.
Dealing With Somatic Symptom Disorder
There are many different ways to deal with this disorder, and the best way is different for everyone. Here are some general tips:
Talk To Your Doctor
This is an important first step in dealing with any health issue. Your doctor can help you figure out what might be causing your symptoms, and they can also rule out any other possible medical causes. Sometimes there can be an underlying medical condition that is causing your symptoms, and your doctor can help you figure out if this is the case.
Get Second Opinion
If you are not satisfied with your doctor’s diagnosis or treatment plan, it is important to get a second opinion. This can be from another doctor or from a specialist. Getting a second opinion can help you feel more confident in your diagnosis and treatment plan. There are also many online resources that can provide you with second opinions.
Talk To Therapist
Talking to a therapist can be helpful in dealing with any mental health issue, and this is no different for these disorders. A therapist can help you understand your symptoms and how to deal with them. They can also help you manage any other mental health issues that may be contributing to your somatic symptoms.
Join Support Group
There are many support groups available for people with these disorders. This can be a great way to meet other people who are dealing with similar issues. Support groups can provide you with practical tips and information, and they can also offer emotional support. You can find support groups online or through your local community center or hospital.
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve your overall health. It can also help you cope with somatic symptoms by helping to reduce the physical sensations that are associated with them. Exercise can also help to improve your mood and energy levels.
Meditation can be helpful in dealing with any type of stress, and it can also help you deal with somatic symptoms. Meditation can help you focus on positive thoughts and relax your body. There are many different types of meditation, so it is important to find one that works for you. You can find meditation classes or groups in your community, or you can meditate on your own at home.
Yoga is a form of exercise that can be helpful in dealing with stress and improving your overall health. It can also help to reduce the physical sensations that are associated with somatic symptoms. Yoga classes are available at many community centers or you can practice yoga at home.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting thin needles into the skin. This helps to improve overall health and well-being. It can also help to reduce the physical sensations associates with somatic symptoms. You can find acupuncture clinics in your community or you can see a licensed acupuncturist.
Massage therapy can be helpful in reducing stress and improving your overall health. This therapy can also help to reduce the physical sensations that are associated with somatic symptoms. You can find massage therapists in your community or you can give yourself a massage at home. There may be other treatments that can help you, so it is important to talk to your doctor about all of your options.
Somatic symptom disorder is a complex condition that can be difficult to diagnose and treat. However, with the right support and treatment, people with somatic symptom disorder can recover and live full, productive lives. If you or someone you know is struggling with somatic symptom disorder, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are many resources available to support you on your journey to recovery.
We provide an overview of somatic symptom disorder, its symptoms, and available treatments. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about somatic symptom disorder, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help!
A Word From Therapy Mantra
Your mental health — Your psychological, emotional, and social well-being — has an impact on every aspect of your life. Positive mental health essentially allows you to effectively deal with life’s everyday challenges.
At TherapyMantra, we have a team of therapists who provide affordable online therapy to assist you with issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, workplace Issues, addiction, relationship, OCD, LGBTQ, and PTSD. You can book a free therapy or download our free Android or iOS app.