Somatoform Disorders

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Somatoform disorders are physical symptoms that look like they are medical conditions but in reality are mental disorders or the reaction of the body to a particular substance. These symptoms often translate into psychological, social or physical problems. An individual with these disorders will often feel pain, depression, nausea or dizziness over his or her body. There are many related somatoform disorders but the common ones are the conversion disorder, somatization, pain disorder and body dysmorphic disorder.

These disorders are categorized according to the particular parts of the body in which they affect for example the body dysmorphic disorder affects the features of the head and face so that the face or head of the affected may look exaggerated (Spitzer, 1997) Conversion disorder is a disorder that impairs the patient’s senses of mobility. There is no reported cause of this disorder apart from stress. Pain disorder on the other hand is largely influenced by the psychological factors of the patient and is mainly common with the older generation. Somatization is a disorder that has numerous symptoms with no medical illness in an individual.

These symptoms impair the person’s ability to function, the patient often complaining of irregular menstruation in female and impotence in men. The person may also have symptoms of depression and anxiety (Karno, 2003) The above disorders fall under the category of depersonalization disorders and dissociative disorders though the two have different meanings in their use. Depersonalization disorder affects the emotions and behaviour of an individual and includes panic disorders whereas dissociative disorders affect the physical parts of the body and include conversion disorder or somatization.

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