Somatoform Disorders

Disorders in this category include those where the symptoms suggest a medical condition but where no medical condition can be found by a physician. In other words, a person with a somatoform disorder might experience significant pain without a medical or biological cause, or they may constantly experience minor aches and pains without any reason for these pains to be found.

The diagnosis in these areas might be controversial. Often the interaction between physical and psychological influences is complex and it is difficult (and often fruitless) to try and address just one aspect within this interplay. Holistic psychological treatment will stand alongside thorough and responsible medical intervention/ monitoring. Most of the time it is impossible to identify the magnitude of the psychological factors, which affect the physical symptoms (or vice versa). Nevertheless, it is obvious that the knowledge and use of psychological strategies will be of huge benefit in any case. Thus again, the diagnosis is not the most important factor, rather the next step into a less stressful and painful future will be the key.

Please remember that the definitions and criteria for diagnoses are constantly evolving and changing (the DSM-IV has been revised several times and is in revision right now). Therefore you will find that not all professionals will agree all the time in regards to certain diagnoses. Thus, we would like to repeat and stress again that it is most important how much YOU are bothered by certain issues, feelings, behaviours and reactions and how much YOU perceive that these interfere in your life. This is where the personal, open and honest discussion with your individual psychologist will be so important and crucial in order to help you to find a way forward in YOUR life (irrespective of diagnosis or not).

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Preoccupation with a specific body part and the belief that this body part is deformed or defective. The preoccupation is significantly excessive and causes distress or significant impairment in functioning. It is not better explained by another disorder such as dissatisfaction with body shape in anorexia or delusions associated with a psychotic disorder.

Conversion Disorder

Includes symptoms such as deficits in voluntary motor or sensory functions which are not intentionally produced but which cannot be fully explained by a physician. There must be a significant impairment in functioning or a history of resulting medical treatment and not better explained by another disorder.

Hypochondriasis Disorder

Includes preoccupation with fears of having a serious disease based upon a misinterpretation of bodily sensations. The preoccupation exists despite assurance from a physician that the individual does not have a serious disease.

Pain Disorder

Involves pain which causes significant distress or impairment in functioning which cannot be fully explained by a physician. It must be judged to be related to psychological factors and cannot be better explained by another disorder.

Somatisation Disorder

Includes a history of physical complaints prior to age 30 which occur over a period of several years. There must be a significant impairment in functioning or a history of resulting medical treatment. After appropriate assessment by a physician, there is a lack of explanation for the reported symptoms or for at least the severity of the complaints.