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Somatization disorder

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I was at therapy today and talking about different issues I've been having lately and at the end I told my therapist I thought I might have a somatic disorder, because I seem to have allergies one week and the next do the same activity, and not have that same reaction.. Anyway, she told me I prob did and next week we would look it up in the DSM-IV or I could look it up online.. So I decided to look it up somatic disorders and I think I figured out what one I might have.. It's called Somatization disorder...

So I guess for everyone's information I looked it up here:

There's not a lot of information available on Somatization disorder.. It's apparently not very common.

Somatization disorder is uncommon in the general population. It is thought to occur in 0.2% to 2% of females, and, according to the DSM-IV, 0.2% of males. There is usually co-morbidity with other psychological disorders, particularly mood or anxiety disorders. This condition is chronic and has a poor prognosis. Although the disorder occurs most often in women, the male relatives of affected women have an increased risk of substance-related disorders and antisocial personality disorders. Certain symptoms of the disorder vary across different cultures as well. For example, the symptom of a sensation of worms in the head or ants crawling under the skin is more prone to those of African and South Asian countries than those in North American countries.
There is a bit of criteria needed in order to be considered having Somatization disorder.

Somatization disorder is a somatoform disorder. The DSM-IV establishes the following five criteria for the diagnosis of this disorder:

* a history of somatic symptoms prior to the age of 30
* pain in at least four different sites on the body
* two gastrointestinal problems other than pain such as vomiting or diarrhea
* one sexual symptom such as lack of interest or erectile dysfunction
* one pseudoneurological symptom similar to those seen in Conversion disorder such as fainting or blindness.

Such symptoms cannot be fully explained by a medical condition or substance. The symptoms do not all have to occur at the same time, but may occur over the course of the disorder. A somatization disorder itself is chronic but fluctuating that rarely remits completely.[5] If a medical condition is present, then the symptoms must be excessive enough to warrant a separate diagnosis. Two symptoms cannot be counted for the same thing e.g. if pain during intercourse is counted as a sexual symptom it cannot be counted as a pain symptom. Finally, symptoms cannot be intentionally feigned/produced to get some sort of conscious benefit from the illness.

Somatization disorder is difficult to diagnose but there are two tests that may help to determine if a patient has the condition:

1. a physical examination of the specified areas that the symptom seems to be in is the first test, along with
2. thorough clinical evaluation of the patient's expressed symptoms. This is to determine whether or not the pain is due to a physical cause.

Once the physical cause is ruled out, then a psychological test is performed to rule out any other related disorders. Since there is no definite way to determine somatization disorder from a simple test, other tests are performed to rule out the other possibilities.
The cause of Somatization disorder is disputed, but there are 3 different categories of trying to explain what causes it.

Although somatization disorder has been studied and diagnosed for more than a century, there is debate and uncertainty regarding its pathophysiology. Most current explanations focus on the concept of a misconnection between the mind and the body. Widely held theories on this troublesome, often familial disorder fit into three general categories.

The first and one of the oldest theories is that the symptoms of somatization disorder represent the body’s own defense against psychological stress. This theory states that the mind has a finite capacity to cope with stress and strain. Therefore, increasing social or emotional stresses beyond a certain point are experienced as physical symptoms, principally affecting the digestive, nervous, and reproductive systems. In recent years, researchers have found connections between the brain, immune system, and digestive system which may be the reason why somatization affects those systems and that people with Irritable bowel syndrome are more likely to get somatization disorder.[citation needed] This theory also helps explain why depression is related to somatization. It is also experienced in very high levels in women with a history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse

The second theory for the cause of somatization disorder is that the disorder occurs due to heightened sensitivity to internal physical sensations. Some people have the ability to feel even the slightest amount of discomfort or pain within their body. With this hypersensitivity, the patient would sense pain that the brain normally would not register in the average person such as minor changes in one's heartbeat. Somatization disorder would then be very closely related to panic disorder under this theory. However, not much is known about hypersensitivity and its relevance to somatization disorder. The psychological or physiological origins of hypersensitivity are still not well understood by experts.

The third theory is that somatization disorder is caused by one’s own negative thoughts and overemphasized fears. Their catastrophic thinking about even the slightest ailments such as thinking a cramp in their shoulder is a tumor, or shortness of breath is due to asthma, could lead those who have somatization disorder to actually worsen their symptoms. This then causes them to feel more pain for just a simple thing like a headache. Often the patients feel like they have a rare disease. This is due to the fact that their doctors would not be able to have a medical explanation for their unconsciously exaggerated pain that the patient actually thinks is there. This thinking that the symptom is catastrophic also often reduces the activities they normally do. They fear that doing activities that they would normally do on a regular basis would make the symptoms worse. The patient slowly stops doing activities one by one until they practically shut themselves from a normal life. With nothing else to do it leaves more time to think about the “rare disease” they have and consequently ending in greater stress and disability.
So I guess that explains Somatization disorder a bit.. I haven't found too much info on it though.. I did realize I fit all the 5 criteria:

* a history of somatic symptoms prior to the age of 30
I have had pains for more then a few years and am currently only 20, so CHECK

* pain in at least four different sites on the body
Abdominal pains, Migraines, Chest, Back Pain, etc.. CHECK

* two gastrointestinal problems other than pain such as vomiting or diarrhea
diarrhea, nausea, food allergies(?) CHECK

* one sexual symptom such as lack of interest or erectile dysfunction
Lack of cycle, etc. CHECK

* one pseudoneurological symptom similar to those seen in Conversion disorder such as fainting or blindness.
Vision Changes / Depth Perception changes and light sensitivity CHECK


So I guess that's it.. Jw if anyone else has this disorder though or have any thoughts on this.. :( It makes me feel so alone with it, because there is so little info.. Thx for any replies!
hey hun :hug: you are not alone in that there are people who care about you and will be willing to talk through this with you and investigate it further with you if you need :hug: please hang in there - you have many friends here and they are all here for you to lean on whilst you need them - thats what friends are for! if you need me you know where i am :hug:


Antiquities Friend
Wow id never actually heard of that till now ! i hope they make some progress for you so you can find out whats wrong and get the right treatment XXXXXX


Mama Bear - TLC, Common Sense
Just want you to know I'm thinking about you. I hope that you and your therapist can discuss this issue and come up with a plan that helps you. :hug:


Well-Known Member
Thank you guys.. :hug: I've only found a little more info on this disorder.. And a small section of another forum about it...


I did a while back look up somatic disorders, but dismissed it.. And now I guess I'm looking at it again.. And reading all this information.. Makes sense now..

I have been dealing with a few different pains off and on in cycles.. occurring more often with high stress.. Making this disorder seem to be a very possible cause..

And right now, the pains seem to be at a pretty high level..

Would explain my "pain attacks" that included my entire body going to these "attacks" more often at night.. And night has always been more stressful for me..

I tend to over - think so much.. I've had migraines and headaches since I was 12, abdominal pains since I can remember... coming in cycles of different pains.. But those 2 seem to be the most major areas.. Though I have had my teeth hurt, my chest hurt, and my back as well at times for no reason..

Foods can make me feel sick / look as though I'm allergic to them, yet tests reveal no real allergy... And I may be allergic one day, and a week later eat the same food with no reaction at all..

Explains why I've gone in for different high level pains and somehow the pains "magically" disappears.. And the hospital thinks I'm a total liar...

Feel like such a fuck up... Sorry... It's making me feel so sick and I want to just cry.. :cry:


~*Mod Extraordinaire*~
Staff Alumni
SF Supporter
I've also never heard of that disorder. :shy: But its good you can put a name on your problems! Always around if you need someone, hugs xx
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