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Somatization Disorder - It's All In My Head


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Evening all,

 

On Saturday night, I went to the cinema with my boyfriend. I had been keeping myself busy all day in an attempt to stop feeling depressed. I didn't really *want* to see a film, particularly an action type one, but a) I had no other idea and b) my boyfriend really wanted to see the film.

 

I just felt so tired of life by this point (9.30pm) I cried for about half an hour (Boyfriend didn't notice fortunately as it was dark, obviously) before half dozing through the film. But shortly after I stopped crying I noticed my feet and hands were aching a little bit...and felt very..how can I describe it...*light?* as though they had slight *pins and needles?*

 

From then until now, as I type this, my arms and legs and hands have been aching on/off, in the form of joint ache, mild pain, or a cramping/pins and needles sensation.

 

I don't feel *ill*. I often get vague, but *real* symptoms for a few days/weeks at a time - like aches/pain, slight vision problems, stomach upsets...etc.

 

This is the telling part. I started to believe by yesterday afternoon I had vCJD (human form of mad cow disease/BSE). Naturally, I got onto Google and of course, I don't have the psychosis of vCJD, or the trouble balancing. I don't have flu - I'm not *ill*. I knew it. I'm just insane. Or, I just frequently have physical symptoms because I can't cope with life.

 

I think I'm a terrible somatizer.

 

I'm sick of it. Any advice?

 

I had an MRI and an EEG recently as part of an epilepsy diagnosis, so I *KNOW* there's nothing wrong with my brain, it's not going to mush.

 

I Know I do officially have depression, migraine, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and epilepsy - again, very subjective (well, not SUBJECTIVE, but very much emotionally-linked conditions) illnesses.

 

Any input? It drives me crazy. It's alarming to have symptoms which your mind alone seems to produce.

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Somatization is the experience of physical symptoms in relation to emotional distress. It is common, costly and frustrating to patients as well as to physicians, who are trained to focus on organic etiologies. Our simple and effective approach to making a positive diagnosis of somatization in primary care settings relies on only two essential criteria: (1) several nonspecific symptoms in different organ systems and (2) a chronic course. Mechanisms commonly thought to explain somatization in primary care patients include amplification of normal body sensations, the expression of emotional distress constrained by cultural and familial rules, and dissociation. Understanding these mechanisms facilitates the development of empathy, which is essential to an effective physician-patient relationship.

 

Somatization disorder is about two times more common among women than men. There is usually co-morbidity with other psychological disorders particularly mood or anxiety disroders. According to the DSM-IV, the disorder has a lifetime prevalence of 0.2% in males and 0.2% to 2% in females. This condition is chronic and has a poor prognosis

 

 

Somatization disorder is characterized by repeated complaints of physical illness over an extended period of time, that are not related to actual organic illness or injury, and begins in early adulthood. It is a somatoform disorder. The DSM-IV establishes the following five criteria for the diagnosis of this disorder:

 

a history of somatic symptoms prior to the age of 30

pain in at least four different sites on the body

two gastrointestinal problems other than pain such as vomiting or diarrhea

one sexual symptom such as lack of interest or erectile dysfunction

one pseudoneurological symptom similar to those seen in Conversion disorder such as fainting or blindness.

Such symptoms cannot be related to any medical condition. The symptoms do not all have to be occurring at the same time just over the course of the disorder. The person does not feel they have any specific illness that symptoms are a sign of, they are simply concerned with the symptoms themselves. If a medical condition is present, then the symptoms must be excessive enough to warrant a separate diagnosis. Two symptoms can not be counted for the same thing e.g.if pain during intercourse is counted as a sexual symptom it can not be counted as a pain symptom. Finally, the symptoms cannot be being feigned out of an effort to gain attention or anything else by being sick, and they can not be deliberately inducing symptoms.

 

No one treatment has been found to cure Somatization disorder. However setting up a physician that screens complaints the patient has before the person is allowed to see a specialist heavily cuts down on cost of the disorder. Antidepressants and Cognitive Behavioral therapy have been shown to help treat the disorder.

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well..i didn't really read it...i saw yer post...never heard of that term...did a little cut and paste...posted it....just to let u know...someone is actually paying attention....well, kinda of...i know what i mean...

 

btw, a while back i did a google on disorders and there are a freaking butload out there...i think i qualified for at leat 58 of them - so get in line....anti!

 

hey, everybody has something right? i collect old freaking polaroid cameras and finding film for them takes ages! there must be an 'illness' related to that....

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I don't feel *ill*. I often get vague, but *real* symptoms for a few days/weeks at a time - like aches/pain, slight vision problems, stomach upsets...etc.

 

. . .

 

I Know I do officially have depression, migraine, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and epilepsy - again, very subjective (well, not SUBJECTIVE, but very much emotionally-linked conditions) illnesses.

 

Any input? It drives me crazy. It's alarming to have symptoms which your mind alone seems to produce.

 

Hey, SuperStar. Ten years ago, this was me.

 

You're so right that your symptoms are very real and also emotionally linked. It can get better!

 

When I was in college I started to have all kinds of stomach problems, heart palpitations, muscle spasms, and strange aches/pains. I was also depressed and tired all the time. It wasn't until I really started dealing with the intense and difficult emotional stuff behind the physical symptoms that I began feeling ok.

 

I couldn't afford therapy at the time, so I figured out ways to change my thought processes on my own - like instead of focusing on something in my body when it felt weird, I'd trust my body to take care of me (it really does know what it's doing!) and would distract my mind with other thoughts. I remember I actually came up with one or two specific comforting images and thoughts to turn to when my brain started obsessing.

 

Physical activity helps a lot, too. Even just going for a walk.

 

You're on the right track already by reaching out. Keep it up!

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