How is psychosomatic illness treated?

Treatment of somatoform disorders, which make up the majority of psychosomatic illnesses, can be challenging. After ruling out physical causes of your symptoms, it generally focuses on establishing a trusting, supportive relationship between you and your primary care doctor. Your doctor will recommend regular checkup appointments as one of the most important parts of your treatment.

Psychiatric treatment of somatoform disorders

Your primary care doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist for help in managing your disorder. Psychotherapy, specifically cognitive-behavioral therapy, may be effective in relieving some of the underlying psychological factors that are causing your physical symptoms. Learning to manage stress in a healthy way through stress management techniques may be part of your therapy. If a specific mental disorder, such as depression, can be identified, treatment with medications may also help.

Symptomatic treatment of somatoform disorders

Symptoms of a somatoform disorder may continue despite efforts at cognitive-behavioral therapy. When this occurs, treatment can be aimed at providing symptomatic relief and helping people live normal lives. Medications can be used to help provide relief from symptoms, such as headache, fatigue, pain, and digestive problems. However, medications may not be needed in all cases.

What you can do to improve your disorder

You may be able to help control your somatoform symptoms by:

  • Following the treatment plan you and your healthcare professional design specifically for you

  • Keeping your regularly scheduled checkup appointments

  • Practicing stress management techniques

What are the potential complications of psychosomatic illness?

If you have a psychosomatic illness, specifically a somatoform disorder, you are at increased risk of:

  • Difficulty functioning effectively in everyday life, such as in school, at work, and in relationships

  • Disability

  • Lower quality of life

  • Major depression

  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

You can best treat your somatoform disorder and lower your risks of complications by following the treatment plan you and your healthcare professional design specifically for you. This includes keeping your regularly scheduled checkups and therapy appointments.


What is psychosomatic illness?

Psychosomatic is defined as concerning or involving both mind and body. Psychosomatic illnesses can be classified in three general types. The first type includes people who have both a mental (psychiatric) illness and a medical illness, and these illnesses complicate the symptoms and management of each other. The second type includes people who have a psychiatric problem that is a direct r... Read more about psychosomatic illness introduction


What are the symptoms of psychosomatic illness?

Somatoform disorders are the major forms of psychosomatic illness. The physical symptoms of somatoform disorders are real. However, they have psychological roots rather than physical causes. The symptoms often resemble symptoms of medical illnesses. As such, people suffering from somatoform disorders may undergo extensive testing and medical evaluations to determine the cause of their symptoms.... Read more about psychosomatic illness symptoms


What causes psychosomatic illness?

The exact cause of somatoform disorders, which are the major type of psychosomatic illness, is not known. Somatoform disorders tend to run in families and may have a genetic component. Somatoform disorders may be a coping strategy, a learned behavior, or the result of a personality characteristic. They may also be linked to problems with nerve impulses that carry false signals to the brain. While the cause of somatoform disorders is not known, the symptoms are real to the person experiencing them. They are not imagined or made up.... Read more about psychosomatic illness causes

Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD Last Annual Review Date: Jul 1, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mental Health and Behavior