Somatization disorder is a mental health problem in which someone has physical symptoms with a psychological cause. With this disorder, people have many health complaints that keep coming back and cannot be explained physically.
Somatization disorder usually starts in the teen years or in early adulthood. It can begin in childhood. More women than men develop this disorder. It tends to run in families.
Symptoms of this disorder include:
Reproductive system problems are common. Women may have irregular periods and men may have problems with erections. Women often have pain with menstruation, sexual intercourse, or urination.
Millions of people in the US have this disorder. Most deny it. Many believe they are not getting good medical care.
A therapist or healthcare provider will ask you about your symptoms and how long you have had them. He or she will ask how they affect your daily life.
You may also have other mental health problems. The most common are depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. Often you have many surgeries and medical treatments without getting better before you are diagnosed.
Psychiatric medicines may help your symptoms, especially if you have anxiety, depression, or obsessions (ideas that you can't stop thinking about).
Psychotherapy is also helpful. You may need to explore possible benefits from being seen as sick. For example, you may get extra attention and care from family and friends. Or you may avoid work or other responsibilities by being sick. Family members may also find therapy useful.
This disorder is usually lifelong, with periods of getting better and getting worse.
For more information, contact:
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)
Web site: http://www.nami.org
Mental Health America (formerly The National Mental Health Association or NMHA)
Web site: http://www.NMHA.org