Somatomorphic disorders: types, causes, symptoms and treatment

Physical illnesses draw attention to the fact that something has happened to our body. Physical pain is the response to a certain stimulus or condition that we may feel.

But these diseases do not always involve an alteration of a physical nature with a clearly localizable origin.

In this article, we will go over what somatomorphic disorders areHow do these types of disorders arise, what are their most common types and we will talk about the treatments and therapies used in these cases.

    What are somatomorphic disorders?

    Somatomorphic disorders are those in which an excessive level of anxiety and worry about the potential or development of physical symptoms it makes them intensify or enhance the appearance of others.

    It is considered normal that at some point in our lives we have all experienced somatomorphic symptoms without them progressing to become a significant problem.

    the causes

    Somatomorphic disorders are usually linked to some type of physical condition, at least during the early stages. Then it is common for them to break it and psychological distress predominates above physical illness

    Muscle pain is a good example. When the subject begins to feel discomfort in a muscle region, and persists for several days, the person associates this discomfort with an illness of considerable severity, although in reality what may be the cause. either high stress levels, or being held in bad positions for too long.

    In less intense cases, the subject is able to realize in time that he is reacting disproportionately faced with the situation and manages to remain calm. When the intensity is greater, the individual can become so obsessed with the idea that he has a serious pathology that he can go to several specialists with the firm conviction that they will diagnose the disease that he has. even fed unwittingly.

    When the specialist makes the corresponding assessment and does not detect any pathologyThe subject is unable to accept this diagnosis as true and continues to seek new opinions.

    It is an irrational belief which in some cases can cause the subject to experience the physical discomforts inherent in the disease he claims to have, upon entering a state of hypochondria.

      Types of somatomorphic disorders

      Here you will find brief descriptions of the types of somatomorphic disorders.

      1. Body dysmorphic disorder

      It consists of an exaggerated rejection of the subject towards his body, Or to a specific part of it. In the event that the person has a real physical defect, it is perceived by the subject in such a contemptible way that he might even want to get rid of that part of his body.

      When there is no obvious malformation, the subject with bodily dysmorphic disorder may come to create it. For example, if you don’t like the shape of your ears or nose, that would be the trigger for the disorder.

      2. Somatization disorder

      These usually occur before the age of 30, and they are physical symptoms perceived by the subject, for which he sought medical help, but which at the time of the assessment showed no signs of illness.

      This disorder generates a high level of anxiety in people who suffer from it, and are usually caused by stressors in the daily life of these subjects.

      3. Hypochondriac disorder

      It’s the perception of specific symptoms of a disease that responds only to the subjectivity of the subject. The person does not really have an actual illness, but despite this, this research is evaluated with the firm belief that they are suffering from this illness.

      It is not considered a psychotic disorder, since the person is aware that they may act disproportionately, but they do and continue to do so.

      4. Conversion disorder

      In this case, there are symptoms and physical signs, such as persistent muscle ailments or problems with the perception of one of the senses. This situation leads to the idea that there is a serious pathology at the origin of this symptomatology.But in reality the origin of these conditions is purely psychological, unlike other somatomorphic disorders whose symptoms are not premeditated by the subject.

      Some examples of symptoms that can appear with this somatomorphic disorder can be tension headaches, paratonia, sexual dysfunction, intolerance to certain foods, etc.

      5. Pain disorder

      In this case, there is physical pain in one or more parts of the subject’s body, and it usually occurs after an accident, illness, or just a demand in one area of ​​the body. At first, the pain is justified, but it persists even though the affected area has healed completely.


      In such cases a multidisciplinary team should be employed to stabilize patients physically and mentally; it is generally made up of doctors specializing in different fields, including a psychiatrist.

      In some cases, medication may be needed when severe anxiety states occur. However, the subject will still need to undergo psychotherapy.

      The treatment that leaves the best results is which is based on cognitive-behavioral techniques, Who seek to identify and change the subject’s inappropriate thoughts for more rational thoughts, which will allow him to better appreciate his real situation.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Cervilla Ballesteros, J. (2006). Geriatric psychiatry (2nd edition). Elsevier.
      • Oyama O., Paltoo C., Greengold J. (2007). Somatoform disorders. American family physician. 76 (9): 1333 – 1338.

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