Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Guide

Somatic Symptom Disorder

Traci Speed, M.D., Ph.D., Glenn Treisman, M.D., Ph.D.
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DEFINITION

  • A chronic mental disorder with persistent somatic symptom(s) associated with thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are disproportionate to the somatic symptoms
  • This is a new disorder in DSM-5 which attempts to combine heterogeneous conditions, including the former somatization disorder, hypochondriasis, chronic pain conditions, and undifferentiated somatoform disorder [1].
    • Hypochondriasis: disease preoccupation disproportionate to pathology which endures despite medical reassurance
    • Somatization: experience or complaining of symptoms because of some other psychological distress (due to a disease, personality vulnerabilities, a drive, and/or life events)
    • Briquet’s syndrome: life-long multisystem somatic complaints associated with a constellation of vulnerabilities, including temperament, sex, socioeconomic, status and intelligence - it was linked with the now-banned term “hysteria”

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Last updated: December 5, 2014