Somatic Disorders are complex conditions that have bewildered health professionals for years. The intense pain felt by those suffering from the conditions appear to be unexplainable.

Unsurprisingly, the causes of the various Somatic Disorders are unknown. It appears that a range of factors are involved in the onset of any Somatic disorder.

Many triggers and risk factors appear to exist, though the exact areas differ depending on the type of Somatic Disorder that is present.

We take a look at a few possible causes of each Somatic Disorder. More information can be found on the individual profile for each condition.

There are a range of potential causes of Somatic Disorders

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.

What are some potential causes of Somatic Disorders?

There are a few different types of somatic disorders. With this in mind, different causes have been put forward for each.

Somatic Symptom Disorder:

  • Upbringing: The way that an individual is brought up appears to be important. Having parents that were overprotective may lead to any pain being dealt with in a way that appears excessive.
  • Genetics: It appears that a family history of Somatic Disorders can increase the risk of an individual developing their own disorder. Likewise, any family history of mental illness may also be a contributory factor.
  • Approaching Age of Parents Death: It is possible that when an individual approaches the age that a parent died, that they believe they are at heightened risk. They may confuse the slightest symptom for being something catastrophic. They may have significant anxiety when approaching this age.
  • Media Sensationalising: Whenever a pandemic is possible, the media tends to sensationalise everything. It is possible that someone may believe they are being affected by a condition due to fear of the supposed pandemic. In many cases, they may have an illness vastly different to the pandemic. 

Conversion Disorder:

  • Emotional Trauma: Any form of emotional trauma can lead to somatisation occurring. Emotional trauma can affect anyone, and result in unpredictable consequences.
  • Characteristics: Women are more likely to develop the disorder than men, while symptoms normally appear at first during adolescence.

Factitious Disorder (Munchausen’s Syndrome):

  • Childhood Abuse: Person may believe they need to punish themselves, or has had a long history of receiving medical attention – making them crave this attention in adulthood
  • Personality Disorder: Someone with Factitious Disorder will often have an underlying personality disorder that affects their symptoms
  • Personality Traits: Similar to the above, someone who is manipulative or has a personal vendetta against healthcare professionals may be more likely to develop this disorder.
  • Genetics: Those who were abused as a child may be more likely to grow up and repeat the abuse on someone in their care

Illness Anxiety Disorder:

  • Stress: Symptoms of Illness Anxiety Disorder may succeed an episode that involves intense stress, such as a family member of friend passing away. Alternatively, they may pay more attention to their own ailments as a result, and become afraid of their own symptoms.
  • Overprotective Parents: Those with parents that showed significant attention to the most minor of injuries may be at risk. They may have become accustomed to believing very minor symptoms merit significant medical attention.
  • Genetics: It is possible that personality traits and conditions like fearfulness and Anxiety can run in families.

Psychological Factors Affecting Other Medical Conditions:

  • Anxiety or Stress: People with anxiety will commonly have a fear of attending hospitals, and deny a serious illness is present. Those going through a stressful time are also at risk.
  • Lack of emotional support: Those who don’t have a support system around them can be more likely to admit something is wrong with them, as they may not be able to cope with the inevitable injuries and illness.
  • Life Philosophy: An alternate suggestion would be that some people would rather live in an unhealthy manner for a shorter life, instead of giving up things they enjoy and changing habits for a longer life. This may lead them to ignore a medical diagnosis.
  • Low Mood: Those with low mood may struggle to motivate themselves to deal with a condition, and instead believe it is easier to ignore the symptoms.


It seems that on many occasions, that there isn’t just one singular cause of a Somatic Disorder.

Most believe that multiple factors are involved in the development of these conditions. Then in other cases, it seems that there is simply no cause.

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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