Somatization disorder: when the mind controls the body

Somatization disorder: when the mind controls the body

The Somatization Disorder It is the diagnosis made to those people who repeatedly complain of pain and discomfort of various kinds, which do not have an identifiable physical origin. These symptoms, which are also recurrent and inexplicable, negatively interfere with your social, work and even personal life.


  • 1 Why does Somatization Disorder appear?
  • 2 Symptoms of Somatization Disorder
  • 3 Personality traits of Somatization disorder
  • 4 Somatization Disorder Treatment

Why does Somatization Disorder appear?

It seems that its origin is due to high degrees of anxiety, which can be caused by a high level of stress or more or less important emotional problems. These conditions also cause distress and incapacitate the person to function normally. Although this disorder is mainly related to emotional regulation and not with the area of ​​the body that has become the center of attention of the subject, the symptoms are real and the person has no conscious control over them.

When someone suffers from a somatization disorder, he suffers from unpleasant ailments and symptoms for a long time., even years, that affect various areas of the body. For example, such a person could have abdominal pain, headaches, chest discomfort (such as tightness or palpitations), muscle, joint and even urinary tract discomfort. Women often suffer painful and irregular periods, while men may have erectile dysfunction (impotence).

A single doctor is not enough

It is customary in these cases for the person to describe their symptoms in imprecise but dramatic and very emotional terms. They usually seek help or opinion from more than one specialist. In addition, they also complain that medical exams fail to solve their problems. But be careful, that because they suffer from a somatization disorder does not mean that they cannot suffer another diagnosable medical disease in parallel, so you must be very careful when discarding pathologies quickly.

It is not strange that a person with somatization disorder present also symptoms of anxiety and depression. This serious disorder can even lead the sufferer to begin to feel useless and, in extreme cases, to try to commit suicide, due to the problems he has to adapt to the stresses of life. Nor is it strange that he tends to use alcohol or drugs, including psychoactive drugs.

Symptoms of Somatization Disorder

The symptoms that people suffering from somatization can suffer are as diverse as annoying and unpleasant. The following have been described, although it is believed that they may exist even more:


  • Head
  • Backwards
  • Articulate
  • On the chest
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • In arms or legs
  • Pain in the vagina or penis during sexual intercourse
  • Painful urination

Gastrointestinal symptoms

  • Sickness
  • Distension
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Sexual disorders

  • Inability to maintain an erection (men)
  • Irregular periods (women)
  • Excessive menstrual bleeding (women)
  • Menstrual pains (women)

Neurological symptoms

  • Paralysis
  • Weakness
  • Loss of balance
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loss of voice
  • Inability to control the need to urinate
  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Loss of touch
  • Inability to feel pain
  • Amnesia (memory loss)
  • Temporary blindness
  • Temporary deafness
  • Seizures

Personality traits of Somatization disorder

The somatizing person is usually someone who is very dependent on their social relationships. He often asks for emotional support continuously and can get irritated easily when he feels he doesn't get enough attention. It can even be described as someone with a desire for prominence and manipulation. It is possible that they manifest a suffering that they cannot express in another way, and they can even get some profits such as influencing other people or handling certain unfavorable situations.

Your somatic symptoms are one such as a wake-up call for emotional help. So much insistence and intensity at the expense of one's own health reflect the excessive desire to be taken care of in all aspects of its existence. It is possible to find other purposes:

  • Evade responsibilities of life.
  • Prevent getting involved in more demanding jobs or important growth opportunities, which suggests a feeling of incapacity or guilt (symptoms obstruct and punish).
  • Unify a divided family, because the members of the group are organized around the "sick" to forget other conflicts or problems.

A psychological problem

Often, people with somatization are not able to realize that their problem is basically psychological and therefore they pressure doctors to undergo endless treatments. To this can be added an extensive medical history of diagnostic tests and visits to emergency services, many of them also with reports of rejection of more medical procedures. Hence they express their complaints in a dramatic way, with exhibitionist, dependent, manipulative and even suicidal behavior. At this point it is easy to find a tendency to resort to alternative therapies under the excuse that they feel "more heard and understood."

Something very important to keep in mind is that the doctor should avoid at all costs to downplay his symptomatology, with phrases like "yours are just nerves" or "you have nothing". In this way, the patient will complain about inattention and abandon therapy. So, the beginning of an effective management of the situation will be that the physician understands the patient's suffering and shows an interested attitude towards his discomfort. It's important to put attention on although the patient's behavior seems out of place, the suffering that is lived is always real.

Somatization Disorder Treatment

Occasionally, when these people take an antidepressant or anxiolytic medication, they may feel great relief from their physical symptoms. However, in most cases, treatment should focus on working effectively with the problems that somehow trigger this disorder. Among these problems can be found: personal relationships, problems at work, studies, etc. Psychotherapy can help manage chronic physical discomfort and understand how to handle it..

People with somatization disorder are often very reluctant to accept a referral to a mental health professional, recognizing that conventional medical treatment cannot relieve their symptoms. They are particularly sensitive to the stigma associated with mental disorders. Also, sometimes these mental disorders are ruled out by a doctor who does not see these symptoms as a legitimate cause of concern.

Collaboration between professionals

Ideally, the GP and mental health professional work together. In this way, physical symptoms would be evaluated and at the same time it would help you manage the frustration of not achieving a specific diagnosis or treatment. It would be very appropriate for the patient to receive help to treat their state of anxiety and / or depression. Through therapy, the patient is helped to manage the conflicts he finds in his daily life and you are guided to find more appropriate coping strategies.

Medications can offer some kind of relief quickly, but more long-term work is needed. It is difficult to abandon long-term behavior models; However, With persistence and support, it is possible to achieve success.

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