Disorders in this category highlight the power of the connection between mind and body, where people deal with bodily pains related to mental stresses.
What are the Somatic Disorders?
People with these disorders have physical symptoms that cause emotional distress. These disorders include the titular disorder, Somatic Symptom Disorder, as well as Illness Anxiety Disorder, Conversion Disorder, and Factitious Disorder.
Somatic Symptom Disorder accounts for about 75% and Illness Anxiety Disorder the other 25% of people who had previously been diagnosed with Hypochondriasis. The main difference between these two new disorders is the severity and number of physical symptoms that people deal with. People with Somatic Symptom Disorder usually have multiple concerning physical symptoms that consume their thoughts, energy, and time. On the other hand, those with Illness Anxiety Disorder experience mild symptoms (or none at all), yet they still suffer a great deal of anxiety about their health.
People with Conversion Disorder experience neurological symptoms, like tremor, weakness, or loss of senses, which do not fit the criteria of any known neurological disorder. In Factitious Disorder, people create false illness symptoms and present themselves to others as sick.
Who gets Somatic Disorders?
Abuse, neglect, or severe illness in childhood can also set the stage for these disorders. These traumatic experiences can teach people, either consciously or unconsciously, that only physical, not emotional, pain will bring attention from caregivers.
In cultures and environments that minimize the importance of psychological health, peoples’ brains and bodies may experience psychological stress as physical pain. Countries where healthcare puts more value in physical ailments can also be related to these disorders.
Some people are more prone to experience mental stress in physical ways. Anxiety and depression are well known to cause nausea and changes in appetite, so it is no surprise that emotional troubles can appear as pain or aggravate worries about failing health.