Somatoform disorders also known as Somatic Symptom Disorder (SSD) is a mental disorder that causes one more bodily symptoms, including pain. The signs and symptoms may be not be linked or result to any physical cause, diseases, other mental illness or substance dependence. However, it still can cause debilitating symptoms and cause extreme distress to the patient. Additionally, a person with a somatoform disorder also has an anxiety disorder.
What comes to mind after reading the article above is perhaps the patient is faking or malingering. But people with SSD are not faking their symptoms. The distress they feel from pain and other symptoms are real, even though it cannot be linked to any physical medical conditions. In order for a specialist to diagnosed SSD accurately, doctors need to perform many tests to rule out other possible causes.
Usually, after informing the patient that what they have is SSD, it can create stress and extreme frustration. This is due to the patient feeling unsatisfied that the symptoms they are experiencing are not from a physical disease. Stress generated from this situation will result in patients becoming more worried about their health, creating a vicious cycle that can go on for years.
There are disorders that are related to SSD. These are:
Illness Anxiety Disorder (Hypochondriasis) – An individual who has this order is very preoccupied with the concern that a very serious medical condition. They believe that minor complaints such as a headache can be a sign of a brain tumor or if they have chest pain they have heart disease.
Conversion Disorder – Patients may be experiencing symptoms such as weakness, blindness, paralysis, hearing loss, numbness or tremors but can’t be traced back to a physical medical disease. Furthermore, when stressed the symptoms of conversion disorder will worsen.
The treatment for SSD is focused on improving the individual’s daily functioning, not on the symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy may help in relieving symptoms by correcting unrealistic beliefs, distorted thoughts and behaviors that increase preoccupation of a disease.
If you think you are suffering from Somatoform Disorder you should seek medical assistance. You may also be entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits. The SSA considered Somatoform Disorder as a medical condition that would make you eligible for SSDI and SSI. Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a “Listing of Medical Impairments” (known as the blue book) that automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).