People with somatic symptom disorder can get easily confused between their mental and physical health. A person with the condition has one or more physical symptoms that cause them extreme distress. They visit a doctor frequently because the symptoms are not getting better. They obsess over physical ailments because they’re consumed with the idea that it is dangerous. Living with somatic symptom disorder is extremely frustrating and can be downright scary for the afflicted person. Here is how the condition impacts a person’s life.

People with somatic symptom disorder are not faking their pain

It is important to note that people with somatic symptoms disorder are not faking their ailments. They’re not pretending to be in pain to get attention. These individuals are afraid because they are hurting in some area of their body. The thing that makes it somatic symptom disorder is when they cannot detach from their symptoms. They obsess about what could be happening as a result of the pain. They’re worried that they may be getting sick, or worse- that they’re dying. The anxiety component of this condition can be highly distressing to the person. It’s crucial to make a distinction between anxiety and somatic symptoms. No matter what, the pain is real, and they’re seeing a doctor because their body is hurting.

No explanation for the pain can cause more distress

People with somatic symptom disorder want answers. They want to go to a doctor to understand the source of their pain. When they come back with no explanation, it can be highly frustrating. They want relief from their pain, and that’s why they are seeing a doctor. They’re looking to that person to be an expert and diagnose the source of their pain. When they come back empty-handed, and the doctor doesn’t know why they’re hurting, that is even worse. Now, there’s no relief in sight, and they don’t know what to do, which can cause more anxiety and lead to depression. That’s why it’s essential for the person with somatic symptom disorder to see a mental health professional so they can get validation for their symptoms.

Validating somatic symptom disorder

People with somatic symptom disorder encounter many people who don’t believe them. That can be extremely upsetting to them. They’re in physical and emotional distress, and some individuals are telling them that “your pain is all in your head.” The thing that somebody with somatic symptom disorder needs the most is validation. Just because you’re not experiencing the same symptoms as someone with somatic symptom disorder doesn’t mean they’re not real. If you have a headache, but nobody else can feel it does that mean it isn’t real? That is the same principle with somatic symptom disorder. All this individual wants is to be believed. That can come from their support system, and it also comes from a mental health professional such as a therapist. You can read more about somatic symptoms disorder, its treatments, and why it matters to be validated here.

A good doctor is important

Having a good doctor is extremely important for someone who has somatic symptom disorder. Many physicians will discount a person with this somatic symptom disorder because they visit the doctor so frequently. A good doctor will not judge someone with somatic symptom disorder and treat their symptoms seriously. You don’t want to discount a patient’s symptoms because you could miss something that is the sign of a serious physical illness. A good doctor-patient relationship matters. An excellent doctor will believe their patient no matter what condition they have. That’s why it’s crucial for someone with somatic symptom disorder to have a medical professional that they trust.

Seeing a mental health professional for somatic symptom disorder

In addition to having a good doctor, a therapist is a crucial part of living with somatic symptom disorder. That person can help the individual differentiate between what symptoms are physical and what are mental. They can decode between the person’s anxiety and their physical symptoms. Whether they see a therapist online or in their local area, they can help them understand their condition and start to decode between physical and mental issues.

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