Somatic Disorders are a group of conditions which involve emotional pain being expressed as physical symptoms. They cause significant distress.

However, treatment is available, and in the majority of cases, will result in a recovery being made. This is always the aim.

Seeking treatment for Somatic Disorders is important

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.

Somatic Disorders treatment

The exact treatment plan for Somatic Disorders depends on the type of Somatic Disorder that is present. There are several different types of Somatic Disorders.

Generally, the main form of treatment is a type of talking therapy. Occasionally, a type of medication can be used.

Talking Therapy

A form of talking therapy is usually used for cases of Somatic Disorders. These are normally able to dig deep into a person’s psyche, to see if there is something causing their symptoms.

A vast range of talking therapies exist (you can see a list here). Some of the ones that are used for Somatic Disorders include:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of therapy that is used to treat a range of mental health conditions. CBT involves an individual talking face-to-face with a therapist, although sometimes CBT can be conducted in a group setting. CBT attempts to improve an individual’s wellbeing and mood. The therapy focuses on the link between thoughts, feelings and actions. This can be useful for those with low self-esteem, anxiety, unhelpful personality traits or intrusive thoughts. CBT can help an individual understand their feelings more, and in the long run should lead to an improvement in quality of life.

Cognitive Analytical Therapy (CAT): Cognitive Analytical Therapy provides a form of therapy that combines cognitive and psychoanalytic approaches to mental health. The aim is to instil techniques into an individual that should help improve the symptoms of their condition. There is a very strong focus on the relationship between therapist and client in this type of therapy.

Hypnotherapy: Hypnotherapy is a form of therapy that uses hypnosis in an attempt to treat a condition. Hypnotherapy normally involves an individual being in a deeply relaxed state. The therapy also uses focused attention and concentration to induce a heightened state of awareness. This allows the patient to focus on specific thoughts or factors. Hypnotherapy will commonly involve suggestion therapy, which allows a person to be more inclined to changing behaviours (including pain management). It can also be used to explore causes of a condition or symptom. This may include events that have been hidden in an individual’s unconscious memory.

Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy: Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy is a talking therapy that aims to help uncover and resolve unconscious beliefs that cause psychiatric conditions. Traumatic experiences that may or may not be buried in the unconscious mind can be highlighted and processed. Psychoanalytical psychotherapy involves talking to a trained therapist. The therapist can show the individual how early memories and past traumas have affected their thinking, behaviour and attitude in the modern day. Psychoanalytical psychotherapy is especially useful for any condition that involves past trauma. Renowned neurologist Sigmund Freud developed this therapy, which is typically completed over a long-term basis.

Medication

While talking therapy is the preferred treatment, occasionally medication can help. An expansive range of types of medicine can be used, dependent on the circumstances involved.

These medicines include antidepressants for if mood is impacted, or anxiety is present, or an analgesic like an opioid for cases of significant pain:

Antidepressants: Antidepressants can help to improve and regulate mood. They should improve motivation and restore energy. SSRI Antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed. They act on the brain chemical serotonin – which is thought to help in regulating mood and emotion. They may include side-effects such as a dry mouth, sexual problems and nausea, though these should hopefully be short-term. Other classes of antidepressants are available in the event of an inadequate reaction.

Analgesics: Analgesics, also known as painkillers, are a class of medications that are primarily used to provide relief from physical pain. These medications include opioids – which are powerful painkillers like oxycodone and morphine, and non-opioids, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Analgesics can be used in some mental health conditions – mainly some Somatic Disorders.

Summary

Somatic Disorders can be difficult conditions to live with, but treatment is available.

The hope is that each individual with a Somatic Disorder will find a treatment plan that results in significant improvements for them.  

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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Helplines

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References