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Hypochondriasis/Somatization Disorder


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I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this but I wanted to know if anyone had any experience with either somatization disorder or hypochondriasis? I've been having a lot of health related complaints recently, and I have been dx with GAD but my doctor thinks I also potentially have somatization disorder.  Anyone with any info would be great.

Thanks!

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Here is an article written for doctors where, "Drs Holloway and Zerbe discuss how physicians can distinguish this confounding condition from real physical illness and find a balanced approach to helping the patient without burning themselves out." It contains the DSM-IV definition, which is

somatization disorder is characterized by multiple recurring pains and gastrointestinal, sexual, and pseudo-neurologic symptoms that occur over a period of years. To meet the diagnostic criteria for somatization disorder, the patients' physical complaints must not be intentionally induced and must result in medical attention or significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. However, it is less important for physicians to remember these criteria than it is for them to recognize the global nature of the illness and the appropriate time to refer patients to a psychiatrist.

They also give a really good description of what these patients are like. See if it sounds like you.

Edit: it said that somatization patients tend to be really passive when it comes to their health. They specifically mentioned extensive Internet research as something they don't do because they aren't interested in a cure.

You, however, do seem interested in a cure.

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This is a bit of a tricky subject.  For one, those suffering from MIs tend to not handle stress as well as the NT population, and long-term mental stress creates physical stress, which can lead to a host of very real physical illnesses.  Secondly, not all physical illnesses are easy to diagnose and not all physicians are dedicated to ruling out potential causes.  Some are very quick to label a patient "hypochondriac" or "psychosomatic" if the patient has MIs, or presents as having them. 

Fibromyalgia was a "made-up illness" up until very recently.  It's finally being taken seriously since neurologists discovered that short-circuiting in the CNS causes pain receptors to always be "on" in some people.  But for years that pain was "all in the patient's head". 

MIs are not a good scapegoat for physical complaints, and doctors who are too quick to assign blame to them aren't good doctors.  And that's not to say a somatic disorder shouldn't be considered, but that it shouldn't be an excuse to discontinue further exploration of medical causes.

Greengal, if you don't mind sharing, what are your symptoms?

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Ella, I've basically had a myriad of problems over the last year and half or so.  It started with GI issues...mainly upper and lower abdominal cramping and diarrhea, followed by an almost 50lb weight loss and potentially an eating disorder (I say potentially because it hasn't been "officially" diagnosed).  My other complaints are primarily fatigue, anxiety, irritability and headaches.  I do have some sexual symptoms as well (decreased interest in sex, pain etc) but I have severe endometriosis so that could be from that. 

Thanks,

Kelly

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Ok, I see now why your doc posited the "somatic" possibility.  I think that as a general rule a bundle of symptoms like "GI problems, headaches, fatigue and weight changes" is treated as psychological in origin.  Anxiety and/or depression can cause all that good stuff, or trigger it in the biologically predisposed. 

If you aren't seeing a pdoc, I hope you'll consider finding one.  They're a hundred times more likely to get you on the right psych meds than a general practitioner.  I wish I'd scheduled an appointment years before my acid reflux became a real problem and migraines began paying me regular visits  ;)

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Ella, I've basically had a myriad of problems over the last year and half or so.  It started with GI issues...mainly upper and lower abdominal cramping and diarrhea, followed by an almost 50lb weight loss and potentially an eating disorder (I say potentially because it hasn't been "officially" diagnosed).  My other complaints are primarily fatigue, anxiety, irritability and headaches.  I do have some sexual symptoms as well (decreased interest in sex, pain etc) but I have severe endometriosis so that could be from that. 

Thanks,

Kelly

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Greengal, my sister in law has endo and it can spread to your bowel and cause constriction and obstruction. Serious stuff.  You need to get this attended to!  Talk to your gynecologist or gp to get referred to a GI specialist, explaining your endo problem.  the fatigue, anxiety, irritability etc, could be from anemia because you bowel is unable to absorb the nutrients in your food and you may not even be all that hungry because everything makes you feel like puking.  Laproscopy can fix this.  This can be life threatening so don't leave.  IT IS NOT ALL IN YOUR HEAD.  GO TO YOUR DOCTOR AND BE FIRM.  Take someone with you if you have to.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Is it true that, if you think you have a somatisation/conversion disorder, it proves that you don't have one? Because that's what my psychologist says.

I've been dxed with epilepsy and Crohn's disease. I think at least some of my symptoms are psychosomatic (because who gets both?). But when I brought that up with my neurologist and gastroenterologist they both shouted at me and said I was in denial and had to learn to accept the seriousness of my condition. Also that my responding well to medication (Lamictal & Imuran) proves the dx is right.

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Is it true that, if you think you have a somatisation/conversion disorder, it proves that you don't have one? Because that's what my psychologist says.

I'm always questioning whether or not my physical symptoms (formerly dxed with CFIDS) are imaginary or real.  My pdoc's answer to the question "Could I have a somatoform disorder?" was "Maybe."  He's discouraged me from thinking it for the time being, but I still wonder.  Being an anxiety disorders specialist he sees a lot of patients with psychosomatic issues...

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