Ever heard the phrase, “It’s all in your head?” With somatoform disorders, this takes on a whole new meaning.
Somatoform disorder occurs when a person feels physical pain or has physical symptoms that are actually caused by psychological problems, according to MedlinePlus. This is a long-term disorder and cannot be explained by any physical problems.
There are several types of somatoform disorders, according to Wrong Diagnosis.com. These include hypochondriasis (or hyphochondria), somatization disorder, conversion disorder, pain disorder, undifferentiated somatoform disorder and body dysmorphic disorder.
The most commonly known somatoform disorder is hypochondria, yet most people don’t know it’s considered a mental disorder. An entry on EmpowHER said that hypochondria is chronic and can affect a person’s ability to function, just like any mental disorder. Anxiety about health is associated with hypochondria, and “a hypochondriac fears that a real or imagined minor physical symptom is a sign of serious illness.”
A somatization disorder also seems to be linked with the overall term somatoform disorder. On MedlinePlus, the two have similar definitions. It appears the somatization disorder happens more frequently in women. It is important to make sure that no physical pain that stems from physical problems is found in order to make sure it is somatization disorder.
There is an obvious need for understanding those with somatoform disorders, since most people will assume that the person with the disorder is making everything up. However, according to MedlinePlus, “with the current understanding of the complex interactions between the brain and other body parts, scientists recognize that real physical symptoms can result from psychological stress.”
An interesting explanation for the cause of somatization disorder is that some people avoid being labeled as having psychological distress, so they instead focus on having physical distress, according to The Encyclopedia of Metnal Disorders.