Somatization Disorder

Introduction

Abbreviated as SD, Somatization Disorder refers to a medical condition characterized by several physical complaints. It has been found that SD occurs in chronic stages and patients suffering from this condition have a higher likelihood of suicide attempt compared to any other medical condition (Mai 653).

However, Somatization Disorder is not the main cause of suicide deaths reported across the world. The high level of suicide attempts among SD patients is attributed to cases of overdoses of drugs, emanating from the presence of numerous complaints.

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Persistent physical complaints are quite often and these may last for years as several body systems are prone to the attack. Nevertheless, most registered cases involve complaints regarding the reproductive system, the nervous and the digestive system. Unlike other medical cases, SD carries a high level of stigma. As such, patients get dismissed by medical practitioners who argue that the condition is usually a manufactured disease in the mind of the patient (Mai 653).

SD presents itself through severe symptoms, capable of interfering with a person’s capability to work and even relate with other people around. Consequently, affected people seek medication from medical experts (Khouzam and Field 20).

Based on gender, Somatization Disorder is more prevalent in women than men. Coupled with other psychological disorders and anxiety, this condition may become fatal and is known to have poor diagnosis (Mai 653). Lowering the impact of SD is quite important with counseling and other psychological approaches being considered.

These help patients in dealing with the condition and augments stress management for better mental stability. Early intervention may further lower the severity of symptoms, which may lead to other harsh complications. This intervention is essential and healthy since most of the complications are uncomfortable and may deny the patient the ability to perform his or her daily chores and may lead to suffering of feelings (Khouzam and Field 20).

The condition is also known to fluctuate in one’s life and complete relief from the complaints is hardly possible. Additionally, Somatization Disorder develops between the age of eighteen and thirty years.

It is important to mention that no single method has been identified in the treatment and prevention of SD (Mai 653). This research paper explores the best treatment option for people suffering from SD. It further explains dangers and disadvantages of these treatment options, which have to be known to patients before consideration.

Treatment

As mentioned above, Somatization Disorder does not have a single treatment method. Its treatment may comprise of several management methods before positive healthy results can be realized. However, there are several challenges experienced in the treatment of SD among medical practitioners (Mai 657). Most physicians are pessimistic and negative towards this condition. It is believed that psychologists and psychiatrists perceive SD as a chronic condition that only exists in the mind of patients.

This pessimism further ignores the fact that poor management of Somatization Disorder can lead to high severity of complications associated with the disorder (Khouzam and Field 23). This commonly occurs when there is inconsistency in treatment, which dissatisfies most patients. The difficulty experienced by doctors in treatment of Somatization Disorder is highly attributed to ignorance, refuting organic diseases, discomfort of some doctors during the process and the fear by most doctors to miss an organic disease (Weiten 70).

General treatment

Treatment of SD requires the efforts of both doctors and the patients in order to realize better recovery results. In this regard, the first general principle of treatment is to ensure that diagnosis feedback is known to the patient (Mai 658). This helps the patient to understand his or her medical conditions based on the findings recorded by the doctor.

However, rejection is common, where doctors consider patients’ symptoms as imaginative and not real. As a result, the patient is denied the ability to positively accept the situation. Empowerment of patients is highly recommended by giving tangible and rational explanation for manifested symptoms to allow self-empowerment and stabilization of the situation at hand (Khouzam and Field 23).

Specific treatment

Treatment of Somatization Disorder is mainly through pharmacological and psychological methods. Additionally, a combination of the two methods could be adopted as determined by the doctor in charge. Under psychological therapies, patients are usually exposed to supportive psychotherapy and cognitive-behavior therapy.

However, the two can be combined depending on the verdict of the doctor and the severity of the existing symptoms (Mai 658). It is important to note that supportive psychotherapy is best performed by physicians who are sympathetic and understanding towards the medical problem. In this case, the doctor is able to respond to both emotional and physical challenges presented by the patient.

It is recommended that therapy sessions be regular, consistent and well structured in order to eliminate several complaints. However, these sessions should not be in excess to avoid dependency among patients. For quick recovery, patients are encouraged to focus on their daily life and not current medical symptoms to avoid worsening of the situation.

On the other hand, CBT is the most effective method of treating Somatization Disorder. This approach merges several therapeutic procedures and is highly recommended for patients who do not respond to simple strategies of SD treatment and management (Mai 658). Under this approach, appropriate behavior of the patient is promoted through structuring of the patient’s physical and social environment.

This eliminates the possibility of being preoccupied with dangerous imaginations and behavior, which may hamper recovery. CBT experts reveal that family members and physicians play a crucial role in the recovery of SD patients and may also reinforce their illness (First and Tasman 385).

Treatment goals are equally important to define the number and frequency of therapy sessions. They also explain the need for patients to be involved in homework such as reading appropriate literature, recoding of feelings and keeping of a diary (Mai 659).

This helps the physician to track the lifestyle of the patient with regard to the prevailing disorder. CBT further allows the participation of family members in modification of the environment, allowing them to monitor the behavior and response of the patient regularly (Khouzam and Field 24). Under this category of patients, relaxation therapy could also be vital as a way of maintaining good health. This has to be done regularly over a long period of time.

Besides psychological therapies, patients suffering from SD can be treated using pharmacological therapies. Nevertheless, there is very little progress that has been realized in exploring medical treatment approach. Antidepressants are the most prescribed drugs especially for patients who do not suffer from dysphoria. The risk of using this method is overdose due to numerous complications.

Conclusion

By comparing these methods, I would recommend CBT as the most efficacious way of dealing with SD. This is because it combines all psychological therapies and involves both the patient, physician and family members.

Nevertheless, the disadvantage of this method is rejection from doctors and family members who may not be able to understand SD symptoms being presented (Mai 660). In seeking medical attention, patients can consider community resources like public hospitals, hotlines, clinics, support groups and recreational centers.

Works Cited

First, Michael, and Tasman Allan. Clinical Guide to the Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Disorders. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, 2011. Print.

Khouzam, Raoul, and Field Susan. “Somatization Disorder: Clinical Presentation and Treatment in Primary Care.” Turner White, 1999. Web. 7 Mar. 2012. .

Mai, Francois. “Somatization Disorder: A Practical Review.” Can J Psychiatry 49.10, (2004): 652-662. Print.

Weiten, Wayne. Psychology: Themes and Variations Briefer Version. Stamford, Connecticut, U.S: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.