Somatic Symptom Disorder, also known as Somatic Disorder, involves the presence of significant bodily symptoms that cause emotional distress and affects functioning for six months or more. People with somatic symptom disorder may be extremely worried and anxious about their uncomfortable bodily symptoms, and engage in behaviours such as repeated doctor visits and seeking of reassurance and health information, which takes up a lot of their time and energy.
Bodily symptoms may be general sensations like fatigue and weakness, or specific sensations like pain and chest tightness. These symptoms may present alone (one symptom) or with others (multiple symptoms). These symptoms range from mild and moderate, to severe. The symptoms typically last for six months or more, though they may not be continuously present. These symptoms can be unrelated to a pre-existing medical condition, or when related, is presented in an intensity or severity that is worse than what is usually expected.These uncomfortable bodily symptoms cause the person to develop excessive thoughts, feelings, or behaviours, which may include:
Excessive time and energy become devoted to these symptoms and health concerns, causing:
Cognitive behavioural therapy to cope with the uncomfortable bodily symptoms, target any unhelpful beliefs and expectations that may be causing or worsening the symptoms, and learn strategies to time and pace physical activities and manage stress. The doctor may also prescribe medications to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and pain that often occur with the condition.