What is Somatization Disorder?

The somatization disorder is a chronic condition in which the person has physical symptoms related to various body parts, although no physical causes are.

These people do not have an urgent need to take action and solve problems, but they feel sick and weak continually.

On the other hand, the life of these people can get to revolve around their symptoms, becoming part of their identity.

Symptoms interfere with work, personal relationships, and lead the person to visit different doctors or health centers.

The pain and other symptoms that these people feel are not purposely or intentionally created; They really feel them.

Somatization Disorder

One of the oldest explanations for somatization disorder is that it is the result of the body’s attempts to cope with psychological and emotional stress.

This theory holds that the body has a finite ability to cope with psychological, emotional and social stress and that to a certain extent; symptoms are experienced as physical, mainly affecting the reproductive, digestive and nervous system.

Another hypothesis is that people with this disorder have a greater sensitivity to internal physical sensations and pain.

Cognitive theories explain somatization as arising from negative and catastrophic thoughts, and reinforcing those thoughts.

Catastrophic thoughts could lead the person to think that the symptoms are evidence of illness. Such thoughts can be reinforced by social support, for example when a wife or friend responds more to complaints of pain.

The children whose parents are overly concerned about somatic complaints of their children are more likely to develop this disorder.

There is a model with some support that supports the somatization disorder (TS) part of a neurobiological syndrome base; the behavioral inhibition system ensures greater sensitivity to threat and danger.


People with TS have many physical complaints that last for years, being mostly pain and problems with the digestive, nervous and reproductive systems.

Some symptoms that may occur are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Amnesia
  • Back pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dizziness
  • Impotence
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Articulations pain
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain when urinating
  • Painful menstruation
  • Pain in arms or legs
  • Palpitations
  • Paralysis or muscle weakness


Diagnostic Criteria of DSM-IV

  1. A) History of multiple physical symptoms that begins before age 30, persists for several years and requires the search for medical care or causes a significant social, labor, or other significant areas of the individual’s activity.
  2. B) All the following criteria must be fulfilled, and each symptom can appear at any moment of the alteration:
  • Four painful symptoms: A history of pain related to at least four areas of the body or four functions (eg head, abdomen, back, joints, limbs, thorax, and rectum, during menstruation, intercourse, or urination).
  • Two gastrointestinal symptoms: history of at least two gastrointestinal symptoms other than pain (eg nausea, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea or intolerance to different foods).
  • A sexual symptom: history of at least one sexual or reproductive symptom outside of pain (eg sexual indifference, erectile or ejacul@tory dysfunction, irregular menses, excessive menstrual bleeding, vomiting during pregnancy).
  • A pseudoneurological symptom: history of at least one symptom or deficit that suggests a neurological disorder not limited to pain (symptoms of conversion of type of alteration of psych0m0tor or balance coordination, paralysis or localized muscular weakness, difficulty swallowing, knot sensation In the throat, aphonia, urinary retention, hallucinations, diplopia, blindness, deafness, seizures, dissociative symptoms with amnesia or loss of consciousness during fainting.


The tenth version of the International Classification of Diseases describes Somatization Disorder as:

“The main features are multiple, recurring and frequent physical symptoms of at least two years of duration. Most patients have a complicated and long-lasting history of contact with medical specialists or medical centers. The symptoms can be from any part or system of the body. The course of the disorder is chronic and fluctuating, and is often associated with interference in social, interpersonal, and family behavior. “


To date, cognitive-behavioral therapy is the best-established treatment for this disorder.

Their goal is to help people realize that their ailments are not catastrophic and to allow them to retake the activities in which they participated before, without fear of worsening symptoms.

Also Read: Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

With practice, people learn to recognize negative thoughts and develop rational explanations of their feelings.

Other types of treatment include relaxation techniques, sleep hygiene, and social skills training.

An important goal is to encourage the person to practice more appropriate methods of interaction with others.

As for medication, antidepressants may help alleviate symptoms, but if they are to be used, they should be used in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Possible complications

Possibility of becoming dependent on drugs that reduce pain or sedatives.