Somatic Symptom Disorder Treatment in Murrysville, PA
What Is Somatic Symptom Disorder?
Somatic symptom disorder (SSD), also known as somatic system disorder or somatic syndrome, is a psychiatric condition which causes you to feel extreme anxiety and distress about physical symptoms such as pain and fatigue.
Somatic symptom disorder falls under the umbrella of somatization. Somatization is when mental phenomena are expressed as physical symptoms. Disorders characterized by somatization include: illness anxiety disorder , conversion disorder, and pseudocyesis (false pregnancy).
Even though these intense thoughts, feelings, and behaviors may not be associated with a medical condition, the anxiety is so overwhelming that it can have a negative effect on your quality of life, affecting both your physical and emotional wellbeing. Treatment for SSF is available and focuses on helping you to place less emphasis on the physical symptoms you may experience.
To schedule a consultation with a healthcare practitioner in Murrysville who specializes in somatic symptom disorder treatment, call (724) 915-1049 or contact Dr. Martin Gallagher online.
Causes of Somatic Symptom Disorder
SDD usually begins before the age of 30, and tends to occur more often in women than men. The exact causes of somatic symptom disorder are currently unknown, but it may be correlated with various genetic, environmental or behavioral factors, such as:
- Increased sensitivity to pain
- Family history or upbringing
- Learned social behaviors
- A negative outlook or personality
- Difficulties with processing emotions
People who have a higher risk of developing SDD include those who have:
- Anxiety or depression
- Strong family history of a disease
- A lower socio-economic status or education level
- A current medical condition or are recovering from one
- Experienced trauma or violence, such as sexual abuse
Symptoms of Somatic Symptom Disorder
Symptoms of somatic symptom disorder can be mild or severe, general or specific, numerous, and may change over time. The most likely tend to be:
- Pain in one or more organs
- Fatigue or weakness
- Shortness of breath
Specific thoughts and feelings that patients with SDD can experience include:
- Intense worry about normal bodily sensations
- Repeatedly checking your body for illnesses
- Frequent doctor’s visits for multiple tests and procedures
- Being unresponsive to medical treatment
- Being unable to properly function due to health concerns
Unlike illness anxiety disorder, SSD has symptoms of pain, and unlike conversion disorder or pseudocyesis, the symptoms of SSD are not always linked to a specific bodily area or function.
Somatic Symptom Disorder Diagnosis
Your healthcare practitioner will perform a physical exam to review your symptoms and check for any underlying conditions. If your healthcare provider believes that you may have somatic symptoms, he or she may refer you to a mental health specialist. A strong relationship with your healthcare provider will greatly affect your SDD treatment, preventing unnecessary tests and treatments.
Criteria of a somatic symptom disorder, outlined by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) include having:
- High anxiety about your health or symptoms
- More than one somatic symptom that affects your daily life
- Excessive and persistent thoughts about how serious your symptoms are
- Symptoms that bother you for more than 6 months, even if these symptoms change over time
To determine if you fit these criteria, a mental health specialist will conduct a full psychological evaluation to discuss your symptoms, family history, fears or concerns, relationship problems, and other issues.
Somatic Symptom Disorder Treatment Plan
If it is determined that you have somatic symptom disorder, the focus of treatment is to improve daily functioning, not improve symptoms.
Therapy is an important element to any SSD treatment plan. Therapy for somatic symptom disorder—particularly cognitive behavioral therapy—can help you cope with symptoms, teaching you how to:
- Find ways to help you reduce stress
- Reduce your focus on physical symptoms
- Recognize what makes your symptoms worsen
- Stay social and active to avoid fixation on symptoms
- Function better in your daily life
Another important way to treat SDD is to reduce stress; this can be done by having a strong support group, such as friends and family, to talk about your concerns. Medications like antidepressants can be prescribed to treat depression and other mental health conditions that can be associated with SDD.
Somatic syndrome can affect nearly every aspect of your life, and hinder your happiness. To schedule an appointment with an SDD specialist in Murrysville, call (724) 915-1049 or contact Dr. Martin Gallagher online.
Medical Wellness Associates
Jeannette, PA 15644
8:00 am - 7:30 pm
Tue: 9:00 am - 5:30 pm
Wed: 8:00 am - 7:30 pm
Thu: 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
Fri: 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
Sat: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm