What is somatization disorder?

Somatic symptom disorder is a type of mental illness which causes one or more bodily symptoms, such as pain or fatigue to the point that it causes major emotional distress and problems functioning.

Another diagnosed medical condition which appears may be associated with these symptoms.

You will experience significant emotional and physical suffering when you have somatization disorder.

How common is somatization disorder?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of somatization disorder?

The common symptoms of somatization disorder are:

  • Specific sensations, such as pain or shortness of breath, or more general symptoms, such as fatigue or weakness
  • Usually, this condition will be unrelated to any medical cause that can be identified, or related to a medical condition such as cancer or heart disease but more significant than what’s usually expected
  • A single symptom, multiple symptoms or varying symptoms may occur
  • Mild, moderate or severe symptoms will depend on your condition

Excessive thoughts, feelings and behaviors can include:

  • Having a high level of worry about potential illness
  • Considering normal physical sensations as a sign of severe physical illness
  • Fearing the medical seriousness of symptoms, even when there is no evidence to support that concern
  • Appraising physical sensations as threatening, harmful or causing problems
  • Feeling that medical evaluation and treatment have not been adequate
  • Fearing that physical activity may cause damage to your body
  • Repeatedly checking your body for abnormalities
  • Frequent health care visits that don’t relieve your concerns or that make them worse
  • Being unresponsive to medical treatment or unusually sensitive to medication side effects
  • Having a more severe impairment than would usually be expected related to a medical condition

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes somatization disorder?

  • Genetic and biological factors, such as an increased sensitivity to pain
  • Family influence, which may be genetic or environmental, or both
  • Personality trait of negativity, which can impact how you identify and perceive illness and bodily symptoms
  • Make the awareness of problems processing emotions become lower. It causes physical symptoms to become the focus rather than the emotional issues
  • Learned behavior. For example, the attention or other benefits gained from having an illness; or “pain behaviors” in response to symptoms, such as excessive avoidance of activity, which can increase your level of disability

Risk factors

What increases my risk for somatization disorder?

There are many risk factors for somatization disorder, such as:

  • Having anxiety or depression
  • Having a medical condition or recovering from one
  • Being at risk of developing a medical condition, such as having a strong family history of a disease
  • Experiencing stressful life events, trauma or violence
  • Having experienced past trauma, such as childhood sexual abuse
  • Having a lower level of education and socio-economic status

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is somatization disorder diagnosed?

  • Aphysical exam and any tests your doctor recommends.
  • Conduct a psychological evaluation to talk about your symptoms, stressful situations, family history, fears or concerns, relationship problems, and other issues affecting your life
  • Have you fill out a psychological self-assessment or questionnaire
  • Ask you about alcohol, drug or other substance use

Criteria for diagnosis

Following The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, these are important diagnosis which we have to concern:

  • You have one or more somatic symptoms that are distressing or result in problems with your daily life
  • You have excessive and persistent thoughts about the seriousness of your symptoms, you have a persistently high level of anxiety about your health or symptoms, or you devote too much time and energy to your symptoms or health concerns
  • You continue to have symptoms that concern you, typically for more than six months, even though the symptoms may vary

How is somatization disorder treated?

Psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you:

  • Examine and adapt your beliefs and expectations about health and physical symptoms
  • Learn how to reduce stress
  • Learn how to cope with physical symptoms
  • Reduce preoccupation with symptoms
  • Reduce avoidance of situations and activities due to uncomfortable physical sensations
  • Improve daily functioning at home, at work, in relationships and in social situations
  • Address depression and other mental health disorders


  • Antidepressant medication can help reduce symptoms associated with depression and pain that often occur with somatic symptom disorder.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage somatization disorder?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with somatization disorder:

  • Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs.
  • Participate in activities. Stay involved in work, social and family activities.
  • Get physically active.
  • Practice stress management and relaxation techniques.
  • Work with your provider. Work with your doctor and mental health provider to determine a regular schedule for visits to discuss your concerns and build a trusting relationship

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: September 5, 2017 | Last Modified: September 5, 2017