What are Somatization Issues?
Somatization refers to the manifestation of psychological symptoms, such as anxiety or depression, as physiological discomfort. People with somatization issues suffer from a series of physiological symptoms, such as nausea, headaches, sexual dysfunction, diarrhea, and joint pain. These symptoms are vague in nature and afflict multiple parts or functions of the body. While their symptoms are unexplained by medical conditions, these individuals are not fabricating the sensations they describe. Many individuals with somatization issues undergo a number of negative and inconclusive tests before seeking psychological help.
What are the causes of Somatization Issues?
Somatization issues can be caused by a variety of factors. One common theory is that somatization issues are a defense against psychological distress. Anxiety or depression may be seen as unfavorable due to stigmas surrounding psychiatric diagnoses, so these individuals alternatively seek medical assistance for physical conditions in order to receive the care and treatment they feel they need. An alternative theory is that people with somatization issues have a heightened awareness of physical sensations. Instead of ignoring minor discomfort that most people experience from time to time, they are keenly aware of it. A third possible cause is catastrophic thinking about physiological sensations, or in other words, extreme fear in response to normal sensations.
What is the prognosis for Somatization Issues?
The severity of somatization symptoms generally fluctuate over time if left untreated. Treatment for somatization disorders consists of therapy in combination with medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, can help people suffering from somatization issues identify the negative thought and behavior patterns that contribute to their physiological symptoms, and develop strategies to recognize their dysfunctional thoughts and fears about physical sensations. Over time, they are encouraged to increase their day to day activities, allowing them to function at a normal level. Antidepressants are commonly prescribed alongside psychotherapeutic interventions in order to alleviate their symptoms.