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Somatization Disorder

(Also Known As: Somatic Disorder, Somatization, Somatoform, Somatization Syndrome, Somatization Disorders)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What is Somatization Disorder?

Somatization disorder is a psychiatric condition where an individual complains about several medically unexplained physical or somatic symptoms. To be diagnosed as a somatization disorder, the complaints must be serious enough as to significantly hamper the ability of an individual to perform their daily activities like school, work, family, or social responsibilities, or forces the individual suffering from the condition to seek medical treatment. 1

Somatization disorder was originally called Briquet’s Syndrome, after the French physician Paul Briquet who was the first to describe the condition during the 19th century. The word “somatoform” means that the physical symptoms have a psychological root.

Individuals suffering from somatization disorder complain of several vague physical symptoms which involves a minimum of four different physical activities or parts of the body. The physical symptoms cannot be associated with medical conditions or drug use. Individuals suffering from somatization disorder usually undergo several medical tests before the psychological cause of the distress has been determined.

The individual suffering from somatization disorder often complains of burning sensations, pains that move from one place to another, bizarre tastes on the tongue, tremors, and tingling sensations. Although the individual suffering from somatization disorder may tend to consult various physicians, there might be some inconsistencies in the information about the symptoms of the patient. Although the manifestations of the disorder usually have no medical explanations, they are not deliberately fabricated.

According to the DSM-IV-TR, somatization disorder is one of five somatoform disorders along with conversion disorder, pain disorder, hypochondriasis, and body dysmorphic disorder. 2

Somatization disorder is a relatively rare condition that is related to high use of medical resources. Usually, the condition does not meet the diagnostic threshold for somatization disorder but may have clinical and functional significance. Somatization disorders can be challenging to treat as the doctor needs to differentiate between physical and psychiatric symptoms.

Could You Have Somatization Disorder?

Somatization Disorder Topics

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