Somatic Disorders are conditions that can cause distress. It can take some time for these conditions to be diagnosed.

As pain is the presenting symptom of Somatic Disorders, a Doctor is able to conduct numerous medical tests to try and find the cause.

When there appears to be no cause for the pain, it is likely a Somatic Disorder will then be diagnosed.

It is very important for Somatic Disorders to be diagnosed

What are Somatic Disorders?

Somatic Disorders: Somatic Disorders are a group of mental health conditions that involve emotional pain being expressed as physical symptoms, which cause significant distress. While the majority of mental health disorders are characterised by psychological symptoms, Somatic disorders instead see emotional pain expressed as physical symptoms. This process is known as Somatization – giving this group of disorders their name. Symptoms of this group of disorders vary considerably across the various Somatic disorders.


There are a wide range of Somatic Disorders – so the diagnostic process for each will differ.

The symptoms of each type of Somatic Disorder differs. At an appointment, a Doctor will aim to gain a thorough understanding of how the symptoms affect the individual.

They will ask a range of questions based on the symptoms, including how long they have lasted for, the impact they are having on the life of the individual, and anything else relevant.

By getting a full picture of how the Somatic Disorder is affecting an individual, a doctor can tailor a treatment plan to fit the specific symptoms.

Diagnostic criteria

The diagnostic criteria for each Somatic Disorder differs. In general, the below signs and symptoms will be need to be present for a diagnosis to be made:

Somatic Symptom Disorder:

  • Symptoms cause excessive worrying
  • Symptoms disrupt the daily life of an individual
  • The individual spends a lot of time thinking about the severity of symptoms
  • Feelings of anxiety about the symptoms
  • Symptoms have been present for at least 6 months

Conversion Disorder:

  • Symptoms are not caused by a neurological disorder
  • Symptoms cause distress
  • Symptoms aren’t better suited to a different mental health condition
  • Symptoms are not being faked

Factitious Disorder (Munchausen’s Syndrome):

  • Signs of physical or psychological symptoms being falsified by the individual or purposefully induced (Factitious Disorder Imposed on Self (Munchausen’s Syndrome)).
  • Signs of physical or psychological symptoms in a victim being falsified by the individual inducing them (Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy)).

Illness Anxiety Disorder:

  • Having a pre-occupation with the belief that the individual has, or will develop, a serious illness
  • The individual monitors themselves regularly for any signs of illness
  • Physical symptoms are minimal
  • The feelings and behaviour have been present for at least 6 months

Psychological Factors Affecting Other Medical Conditions:

  • Having a medical illness that is not a mental health condition
  • Individual exhibits attitudes, behaviours or actions that negatively affect the medical condition

These are very basic signs, and we provide more details in the individual page of each condition.


Getting a diagnosis is very important. The sooner that an individual seeks help, the quicker that treatment can ensue.

Treatment is very helpful, and can result in total recovery in many cases. This should always be the aim!

See Also

  1. Somatic Disorders: Everything You Need to Know
  2. What Are The Different Types of Somatic Disorders?
  3. What Are The Symptoms of Somatic Disorders?
  4. What Are The Causes of Somatic Disorders?
  5. How are Somatic Disorders Diagnosed?
  6. How Can Somatic Disorders be Treated?
  7. What is the Prognosis for Somatic Disorders?
  8. 10 Tips for Living With Somatic Disorders

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If you are struggling with your mental health, help is available. With the right support and treatment, you can make a recovery. For information on helplines, or if you are in a state of crisis, please visit our crisis page by clicking on the relevant link for your geographical location (United Kingdom), (United States), (International). You can also see how to get mental health treatment and the process involved by clicking this link.