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Somatisation is a tendency to express and communicate psychological distress in the form of somatic or bodily symptoms, and seek medical help for them.
Somatisation Disorder(SD) is a long term (chronic) condition in which a person has physical symptoms that involve one or more parts of the body, but no physical cause can be found.
The Disorder begins before the age of thirty and occurs more often in woman than men.
Clients with Somatisation Disorder seem to experience pain or other symptoms in a way that increases the level of pain.
There is also growing evidence that emotional wellbeing effects the way people perceive pain and other symptoms.
There are many Symptoms including: abdominal pain, amnesia, back pain, chest pain, diarrhoea, difficulty swallowing, dizziness, headaches, palpitations, pain in the legs and arms, pain during urination, vision changes etc
A thorough physical examination by your GP or Medical specialist is required to exclude physical causes.
Theories about causes fit into three general categories.
The first is that symptoms represent the body’s defence system against psychological distress. This theory states that the mind has a finite capacity to cope with stress and strain. The principal effects are on the digestive, nervous and reproductive systems.
The second theory is that the cause of Somatisation Disorder is a heightened sensitivity to internal physical sensations.
The third theory is Somatisation symptoms are caused by ones own negative thoughts and overemphasised fears. The catastrophic thinking can occur about even the slightest ailment e.g. that shortness of breath could be asthma. Daily activity levels are also often reduced.
A recent review of the cognitive affective neuroscience suggests that people with catastrophic beliefs tend to present with a greater vulnerability to pain.
To date Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the most established treatment for a variety of Somatisations Disorders. CBT helps clients realise that their ailments are not catastrophic , and encourages clients to slowly increase their activity levels. A range of self management approaches are also introduced e.g. relaxation, Mindfulness techniques.
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