Somatisation Disorder

Somatisation describes a person having a tendency to communicate psychological grief in the form of somatic symptoms in the absence of any physical medical findings.

Symptoms may be intensified by an individual suffering anxiety or depression.(1)

Peak incidence occurs usually before 25 years of age in up to 2% of women and below 0.2% in men.

Women are more commonly affected at a ratio of approximately 10:1. Males are much more likely to resort to alcohol and drug abuse.(2)

No specific lab tests or imaging is required in patients suspected to have this disorder. It is however important to rule out real somatic causes if there is any suspicion of mechanical pain for the relevant required testing.

Clinical Signs & Symptoms

  • Multiple physical complaints to several organ systems
  • Anxiety, depression, panic disorder are also commonly present
  • Preoccupation with medical and surgical issues often precludes other life activities
  • Potential to have often undergone multiple surgeries and have evidence of long standing symptoms
  • Multiple symptoms that frequently change
  • Visiting multiple practitioners at any one time.


  1. Lipowski ZJ. Somatization: the experience and communication of psychological distress as somatic symptoms. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics. 1987;47(3-4):160-7.
  2. Ferri FF. Ferri’s Clinical Advisor. Philadelphia: Elsevier; 2013. p. 1018.
  3. Greenberg DB. Somatization: Treatment and prognosis 2013 [cited 2014 09 July ]. Available from:

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