On the surface, this may not seem like a big deal but many issues and consequences can arise over time. Somatic symptom disorder should be taken seriously and diagnosed with care. A person’s excessive distress and feelings can lead to worse situations like suicide attempts and substance abuse. It’s important to take a look at the signs and symptoms related to somatic symptoms disorder and act accordingly.
At Unity, we’re ready to help you or a loved one improve their situation and mental state. We understand how serious somatic symptom disorder can be (especially when it is intertwined with substance abuse). If you or a loved one is struggling with somatic symptom disorder or substance abuse, we’re ready to help you today at Unity Behavioral Health.
Somatic symptom disorder is the feeling that something is wrong with you because of certain symptoms. These particular symptoms may be caused by medical conditions and at certain times they may not. The symptoms can vary greatly in severity and are usually different on a case by case basis. If someone has somatic symptom disorder, they do not act normally about their symptoms.
A person may automatically think the worst about the symptoms they are feeling. They may consistently and frequently seek medical attention. They may continue looking for an explanation even if the possibility of a serious condition has already been excluded. Typically, these symptoms and health concerns become the center point of a person’s life. It can be hard for the person to function and focus, this can eventually lead to disability and other problems.
Those dealing with somatic symptom disorder will experience intense emotional and physical stress. This is where treatment may be able to help a person cope with their symptoms. This can affect a person’s mental state and entire livelihood if left untreated.
There are certain behaviors and tendencies that can indicate possible somatic symptom disorder. Before going into these signs, it’s important to speak on the symptoms part of the disorder. The symptoms someone may be experiencing may vary and could possibly be a sign of an underlying health condition. Symptoms of somatic symptom disorder:
Pain is usually the most common symptom in most cases. However, regardless of the symptoms, a person dealing with somatic symptom disorder will have continuous feelings and behaviors due to these symptoms. These can make it hard to function and can actually lead to disabilities if left untreated. The biggest indicator of somatic symptom disorder is the excessive reactions they have towards their symptoms (massive distress and negative emotions).
The signs of possible somatic symptom disorder can be seen through intense worry and distress, even if a medical concern is not addressed. Make sure to pay attention to these signs so you can get help for loved ones suffering from somatic symptom disorder. Possible signs of the disorder include the following behaviors/thoughts:
These behaviors can indicate a bigger issue at hand and create daily problems for the person. The somatic disorder is more than just the physical symptoms; it is more so the reaction to the possible illness. This is where the real issues can tend to occur, especially if a person spends everyday distressed and worries about their health and the future. Even if there is no confirmation of a serious illness, the person will still suffer and be stressed.
Due to the excessive reaction to physical symptoms, a person may end up developing a co-occurring disorder. Co-occurring disorders are when a person is struggling with a mental health illness and an addiction.
This is because people dealing with a somatic symptom disorder may frequently turn to substances to ease their symptoms. This can be over the counter drugs, opiates, marijuana, alcohol, or even benzodiazepines. Over time a person may continue to use these until a substance addiction emerges.
A person can become dependent on these drugs to help them relieve their physical and mental symptoms. In certain instances, some substances can actually increase a person’s sensitivity to pain over time (especially with opiates). This can cause several issues down the line, one of which is hyperalgesia, which messes with a person’s physiological and psychosomatic perception. In simple terms, this can exacerbate a person’s somatic symptom disorder and make it even harder to function.
Alcohol is often abused to cope with the psychological and somatic distress caused by the disorder. It is not uncommon to see people struggling with mental issues turn to alcohol for self-medication. People see alcohol as a way to alleviate or mask some of the physical symptoms. While this may be true in the short term after the effects of alcohol have worn off, the symptoms usually come back worse and a person will feel depression and anxiety. Over time, worse effects can begin to deteriorate the body (liver disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.).
Opioids on their own are usually used to manage pain within a person. These substances can relieve some of the feelings of discomfort and pain, especially for those with somatic disorders. However, due to the nature of somatic symptom disorder, it doesn’t take long for someone to fall into dependency. Additionally, hyperalgesia (heightened sensitivity to pain) can make things even worse over time. Opioids can be very addictive and a person can easily develop a dependency if they are not careful.
The effects of somatic symptom disorder can take a huge toll on a person’s mind and body. Some people that suffer from somatic symptom disorder experience depression and anxiety. A feeling of hopelessness may overcome then because of their unrelenting symptoms. In severe cases, a person may attempt suicide or will have significant issues adapting to life. This is why a person may be quick to turn to drugs or substances. This can eventually evolve into full-blown addiction, which in turn will turn to a co-occurring disorder (or dual diagnosis). This occurs when a person is struggling with a mental illness (in this case somatic disorder) and drug addiction. In treatment, these are treated simultaneously but separately. These cases are usually more severe and usually involve an inpatient treatment program.
While somatic symptom disorder can be painful and stressful, there is always help around the corner. Centers like Unity Behavioral Health can help you or a loved one recover successfully and live a better, cleaner life. Somatic symptom disorder usually involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. It is a mental illness, so much of it will be understanding and dealing with a person’s intense worry over the symptoms. Let’s take a look at some of the treatment options available to you and your family.
The main psychotherapy that will be used is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This therapy method helps a person learn how to reduce stress and the physical symptoms they may be experienced. Overall, CBT is vital in the treatment process and allows a person to cope and address their mental concerns and preoccupations. Family therapy can also be used as a form of psychotherapy depending on the case.
Medication is also a vital part of the process. Antidepressant medication can reduce some of the symptoms of depression and pain. During somatic disorder treatment, medication can come in handy when given at an advised dose. With this being said, it’s important to consult with your doctor or therapist before trying any antidepressants or drugs (especially in co-occurring disorders).
At Unity Behavioral Health, we’re ready to help you with your journey towards a healthy mind and life. Somatic symptom disorder can be painful and disorienting but with the right guidance, you can recover. Don’t wait to get proper treatment today. Contact us to learn more about our addiction treatment programs and available treatment resources.
Speak to one of our experienced and caring representatives at Unity Behavioral Health to learn about how our rehab programs can help your loved one defeat addiction.