Undifferentiated somatoform disorder (somatic symptom disorder)


Somatic symptom disorder is that the condition during which an individual’s somatic or bodily symptoms cause distress or disruption in physical health that’s not according to a medical disorder. For a diagnosis of the disorder, the person must do one among the following: have persistent thoughts about the seriousness of symptoms, have a high level of hysteria about their health or symptoms, or spend excessive time and energy on their health and these characteristics must have lasted for more than 6 months.

Individuals with this kind of disorder may go from physician to physician or from emergency room to emergency room seeking to be told that they have some kind of a medical disorder. They are not satisfied when the professional cannot find the explanation for their symptoms. One estimate suggests that the prevalence of this disorder is around 5%-7% .

Undifferentiated somatoform disorder


Individuals with SSD may not fake about their symptoms, but whatever they go through, that is the pain, the distress is real. SSD is a form of mental illness.


There are several other disorders related to SSD they are:

  • Illness anxiety disorder
  • Conversion disorder
  • Factitious disorder

Undifferentiated somatoform disorder

1. Illness anxiety disorder: is the diagnosis when a person is preoccupied with the

possibility of having a serious illness. Unlink SSD, the person experiences few symptoms , if any. In this disorder the anxiety is focused on health issues; the person may become alarmed at any suggestion or a thought that he may have a health problem.

For example, person might read an article about symptoms of mouth cancer or may have sensation in his body about the same and decides that he has a cancer.

Some individuals with this disorder actually avoid seeing a health professional because that would increase their anxiety, fearing that the doctor might confirm that serious illness. In many ways, it is not the symptoms itself but the reaction of a person that is the critical feature of this disorder.

2. Conversion disorder: conversion disorder refers to what historically has been called hysteria. It is the situation in which a person reports sensory or motor symptoms such as not being able to hear or see or feel pain or move a part of the body. However, symptoms does not follow known neurological or physiological patterns.

what is Undifferentiated somatoform disorder ??

Conversion disorder is considered to take place in an involuntary manner outside one’s consciousness. Common symptoms include paralysis, tremor, seizures, blindness, anesthesia, and problems associated with movements. Conversion disorder shows high Comorbidity that is, this disorder is highly related with anxiety, depression, and personality disorders. In some cases, the conversion symptoms develop after an emotional stress or trauma.

3. Factitious disorder: it is the situation in which a person creates the symptoms seen by the health care professional. Such an individual may take laxatives or even inject insulin to mimic an actual physical disorder such as low blood sugar or stomach flu.

Although it seems strange that someone would actually hurt themselves just for the gain of receiving medical attention, this is indeed a case. When the person doesn’t receive the eye sought, they’ll become angry and claim mistreatment.


Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most consistently supported treatment for the somatic symptoms disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients find ways to gain control of their situation, and break the cycle of pain and despair. Specific techniques used in this therapy include relaxation training, problem-solving, visualization, biofeedback, exercise, and breathing techniques.

Several categories of antidepressants are prescribed by the health care professionals for patients with SSD, but the research provides less support for the effectiveness of antidepressants than it does for cognitive behavioral therapy.It’s also not entirely clear how antidepressants might help patients affected by SSD.

These drugs might work indirectly, by alleviating symptoms of depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder , that are common in patients with SSD and can actually increase distress over physical symptoms. It’s also possible that antidepressants work directly by affecting nerve circuits that influence not only mood but also fatigue, pain perception, gastrointestinal distress, and other symptoms that occur in SSD.

Antidepressants only work for few patients, the studies evaluating their use in SSD, report that a high percentage of patients stop taking the drugs, partly because of concerns about side effects. And there is no research information available about optimum dose, duration of treatment, or long-term outcomes.

short-term psychodynamic therapy might help as either a stand-alone or adjunctive treatment for somatoform disorders. Short-term psychodynamic therapy is an umbrella term for a group of brief interventions that help a patient gain insight into unconscious or unresolved emotional conflicts that may underlie the physical distress of somatoform disorders.

Other sorts of psychotherapy can also be useful for treating somatoform disorders, although not enough research has been conducted to mention needless to say .The results of research are difficult to use to real-world clinical practice because the studies tend to specialise in one particular therapy at a time. Since somatoform disorders are by nature multifaceted, so is the treatment they require.

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