Somatoform disorder

Somatoform disorder is a syndrome of multiple, and recurring symptoms that are medically unexplained. These occur over a prolonged period of time, in which emotional distress is often experienced through physical symptoms which are known as somatisation.

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Somatisation disorder patients commonly have co-existing disorders; depression (up to 60% patients), anxiety disorders (up to 50%), personality disorders (up to 50%) or alcohol and substance misuse. Somatisation disorders are common and the most prevalent disorder in General Practice. In primary care up to 30% of visits from patients may be with unexplained medical symptoms.

There are different kinds of somatoform disorder, including:

Who does somatoform disorder affect?

Somatoform disorders affect people of all ages, although more common in the elderly and in women. The prevalence of people affected is difficult to determine because many people will never receive a formal diagnosis. Patients often seek repeated medical consultations which fail to find a definite medical cause.

The defining cause of somatoform disorder is unknown but research has indicated that early childhood experiences, along with cultural and environmental factors play a role in its manifestation. Sufferers may turn to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate and ease the burden of their somatic symptoms. However, excessive drug and alcohol intake can make the symptoms worse.

Symptoms of somatoform disorder

The relationship between the mind and the body is complex and not fully comprehended. When a you experience somatisation, you are expressing a mental or emotional problem as physical symptoms. These physical symptoms, which are genuinely experienced by patients can include:

  • Headaches
  • Abdominal symptoms
  • Pain in various parts of the body
  • Fatigue

How the Priory can help to treat somatoform disorders

Priory has been helping to treat people with somatoform disorder for many years. We know that everyone's situation is different, which is why we ensure that everyone has a unique treatment plan tailored to their needs.

The type and length of somatoform disorder treatment is dependent on the individual's circumstances and the severity of the condition. Some patients are treated as out-patients, which means they come to Priory for hourly sessions with their consultant, psychologist or therapist. Others require a more structured treatment approach which can include staying at one of the Priory hospitals for the duration of their treatment where they take part in the psychological group programme as well as regular sessions with their consultant. Comprehensive day care packages are also available.

For further details on how Priory can provide you with further assistance regarding Somatoform disorder, please call 0800 840 3219. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here