One of the most striking psychological disorders is Somatization. This is a phenomenon characterized by the manifestation of physical symptoms that do not correspond to a disease or other real medical condition. Therefore, patients extend some kind of in mental discomfort to their physical body by forming unconscious and involuntary.

The patient will begin to experience sensations that are non-existent in reality. These symptoms are only perceived by them, and they will eventually begin to experience maladaptive thoughts and behaviors in response to health problems that are not real. This is a distressing and limiting disorder for those who suffer from it, it has a significant impact on the social and work functionality of the individual.

It is important not to confuse somatization with simulation , in the latter case it is the pretense or intentional of physical and psychological symptoms. This is a recurring action that is intended to carry out the intention of showing that you are suffering from some type of fictitious medical condition. Instead, somatization is completely an unconscious act that even the patient believes to be real.

What is somatizing?

Somatization is usually described as a type of psychological disorder that is expressed through the body. This means that certain types of discomforts experienced at the mental level will be reflected on the physical level in an unconscious way. Therefore, it is a condition in which patients will begin to experience sensations that do not have a logical physiological explanation.

The act of somatizing supposes that the patient perceives the appearance of recurrent physical symptoms that they have never experienced before. These cannot be justified or identified as a physical cause that is appropriate for some type of disease or feasible medical condition. Somatization is considered by some to be the expression of mental disturbances such as anxiety or emotional distress in an unintentional way. 

Depending on the concerns and the amount of stress that a person may experience, these would have psychological repercussions through negative and unpleasant emotions. These same in the same way have connection and repercussions at the body level, it is a feedback system where the patient experiences different types of symptoms.

What are their characteristics? 

The main characteristic of somatization is to notice physical changes that were not previously present. This means that the patient himself will suddenly begin to feel and notice physical symptoms that seem to have no apparent logical reason. These can affect you in different ways, the most important thing to note is that these symptoms do not seem to show a pattern or signs that show that you are really suffering from a specific disease.

Usually these symptoms last for a short time or for a certain period of time no longer than a few days or weeks. In addition, these cannot be verified through quantitative or qualitative medical physical examinations. Therefore, these can only be perceived and described by the patient himself, it will depend largely on the subjectivity with which the clinical picture is analyzed in general.

For example, some of the symptoms are gastrointestinal in nature such as abdominal pain, food intolerances or even diarrhea and vomiting. There will also be neurological symptoms such as muscle aches and headaches, these are combined with respiratory and cardiac symptoms such as chest pains, tachycardia and the sensation of suffocation.

What are your causes? 

The precise causes why some people are more prone to somatize are not entirely clear yet. Multiple studies have been conducted on this issue, in conclusion scientists seem to agree that it depends largely on various factors of a biological and environmental nature . Most likely, some type of personal psychological distress, as well as experiencing worries and other symptoms that demonstrate difficulties in coping with reality can contribute.

In the same way, it should be taken into account that some people have greater emotional and physical sensitivity to pain and other similar sensations. These same individuals may also have pervasive negative perspectives on their personal life and life in general. Therefore, it is important not to rule out that the suffering of other psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression could have a direct relationship.

Regarding genetic factors as well as a history of physical or sexual abuse, these elements make certain individuals more likely to experience somatization. These negative situations lead to suffering from illness anxiety disorders, also known as hypochondria. These same individuals begin to feel fearful about the possibility of getting sick or looking like some kind of serious condition.

Most psychologists state that patients who have experienced continuous stress for long periods of time are the most frequent somatizers. Considering that they live in periods of pronounced anxiety, as well as persistent emotional problems, they consequently have deficiencies in maintaining good emotional management. They do not have the capacity to apply decisive actions, so they become individuals with multiple psychological limitations.

Treatments and other recommendations

The main objective of the treatment is to ensure that the patient can control the symptoms he experiences by himself, he must be provided with the necessary resources so that in the future he can maintain his autonomy. For this, the treatment not only control the symptoms, but also primary care must be carried out through the application of tests and procedures that help to make a more accurate evaluation of the current state.

The medical professional trained to treat this condition is the therapist or psychiatrist. These professionals are the most indicated to carry out the treatment known as cognitive behavioral therapy This is a type of psychotherapy specially designed to treat these types of disorders, not only to relieve pain and other symptoms; also the patient learn to manage their emotions.

Eventually with each session, favorable changes will be observed in how the patient begins to adopt measures that allow him to reduce stress and anxiety. In the same way you will be able to concentrate and recognize the physical symptoms that are real of others. In the long term, the same individual will know how to better manage their tolerance to pain and other physical symptoms.

In the case of suffering from other associated psychological illnesses such as depression, the therapist may recommend the use of antidepressants. This medication is used to relieve anxiety and the symptoms of depression, however the symptoms that are interpreted as imaginary could at first be managed through the use of placebos.

In certain cases, it is most likely that a treatment will be used in which pharmacological treatment is combined with psychological support . For this, the therapist to carry out a thorough examination of the medical history and the medical tests carried out up to that moment.

It is very important to educate the patient to learn different types of resources related to relaxation and meditation . These techniques provide good results in those patients who have greater difficulties in using their socialization skills.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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