Somatic Disorders are a group of conditions that involve emotional pain manifesting as physical symptoms.

In most cases, they are no less distressing than other mental health conditions. The only difference is that these disorders involve physical pain, whereas the majority of mental health conditions are confined to emotional pain.

There are a few different types of Somatic Disorders, as covered in this article. These disorders are quite distinct from one another. Knowing which sub-type an individual is suffering from is important – as it can ensure that the correct treatment is provided.

Each type of condition has different symptoms, causes and treatment. It is possible to see these on the individual page of each condition.

Somatic Disorders can take a wide range of forms

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 the different types of Somatic Disorders?

Somatic Symptom Disorder: Somatic Symptom Disorder is a condition that involves bodily symptoms such as pain and fatigue. These symptoms however aren’t traceable to a physical cause, and are not attributable to a general health condition. Yet the pain is present, and causes significant distress – leading to functional impairment. This disorder often runs comorbidly with an Anxiety disorder.

Conversion Disorder: Conversion Disorder (also known as Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder) is a condition that involves physical symptoms resembling a nervous system disorder developing. However, no nervous system disorder is present. The pain thus appears as a result of somatisation – with emotional pain being expressed as physical symptoms. Typical symptoms include paralysis, blindness, numbness or convulsions.

Factitious Disorder (Munchausen’s Syndrome): Factitious Disorder is a condition characterised by a person acting as if they or someone in their care has a physical or mental illness. The individual actively feigns their symptoms, or fabricate illnesses in those under their care. The person won’t act in this way for monetary gain, instead they will have an innate need to be viewed as ill, and to attain the role of patient. Someone with this disorder often has a history of abuse.

Illness Anxiety Disorder: Illness Anxiety Disorder is a condition characterised by an individual excessively worrying about having a serious illness. The person will typically believe any symptoms, however minor, are a sign of a serious illness. Even after a Doctor has told the person that no illness is present, they persist in their belief. Someone with this disorder will often see their worrying take over their life. Their high level of anxiety causes significant impairment in multiple contexts.

Psychological Factors Affecting Other Medical Conditions: This condition is diagnosed when an individual’s behaviour, attitude or actions have a negative impact on a medical health disorder that the individual has. For instance, someone may ignore a treatment plan, refuse to undergo tests, or dismiss any symptoms as not being present. Someone with this disorder will risk exacerbating their illness, and risks permanent injury or even death. Anxiety and stress are common factors involved.


There are certainly a range of disorders in this area, with a few differences between each condition.

However, irrespective of the differences, receiving suitable treatment is very important – with the aim of full recovery being realistic.  

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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