What is somatic symptom disorder?

Under Somatic symptom disorder DSM 5, a diagnosis is based on the degree to which a person’s thoughts, feelings and behavior about their somatic symptoms are disproportionate or excessive. Specifically, one must experience six months of one distressing or disrupting somatic symptom that causes disproportionate and persistent thoughts, feelings and behavior or that takes up extra time and energy.  Somatic symptom disorder is characterized by an extreme focus on physical symptoms — such as pain or fatigue — that causes major emotional distress and problems functioning. You may or may not have another diagnosed medical condition associated with these symptoms, but your reaction to the symptoms is not normal.

What are the symptoms of somatic symptom disorder?

Symptoms of somatic symptom disorder may be:

  • Specific sensations, such as pain or shortness of breath, or more general symptoms, such as fatigue or weakness
  • Unrelated to any medical cause that can be identified, or related to a medical condition such as cancer or heart disease, but more significant than what’s usually expected
  • A single symptom, multiple symptoms or varying symptoms
  • Mild, moderate or severe

Pain is the most common symptom, but whatever your symptoms, you have excessive thoughts, feelings or behaviors related to those symptoms, which cause significant problems, make it difficult to function and sometimes can be disabling.

How is somatic symptom disorder treated?

Following a thorough psychiatric evaluation, a Remedy psychiatric provider will create an individualized somatic symptom disorder treatment plan for each patient with somatic symptom disorder as every patient has a unique experience and specific needs to be addressed. The prescribed treatment plan will depend on the patient, the severity of the disorder, and how he or she is currently responding to therapy or medication.