Somatization Disorder: Latest Medical Breakthroughs

Thursday, 28 Oct 2010 04:07 PM

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Somatization disorder is a condition in which patients suffer from the physical manifestation of psychological problems. A patient suffering from somatization disorder experiences pain in several parts of the body, which, over time, can leave the patient impaired.
 
Somatization disorder is diagnosed if the person has pain in at least four different parts of the body: at least two gastrointestinal problems, one sexual symptom, and one pseudo-neurological symptom. This disorder, traditionally called hysteria, is alsoknown as Briquet’s disorder or syndrome.
 
Several studies have been conducted on somatoform disorder. Here are a few somatization disorder breakthroughs:
  1. Investigation by a group of Italian researchers headed by Nicoletta Sonino (University of Padova) has found that aldosterone may play an important role in fear and anxiety in humans. Anxiety is a key symptom in somatization disorders. Clinical trials show that people diagnosed with aldosteronism exhibited anxiety, depression, and some showed persistent somatization. Treating aldosteronism is likely to cure anxiety, depression, and related psycho-somatization disorders. Although there is no definitive treatment plan yet, this is one area that can be explored when treating a person with somatization disorder.
  2. Research presented at the 71st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology could shed new light on treating somatization disorder, especially in children. Although not somatization disorder research, this research focused on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in children. Studies found that gender and family size influenced IBS as well as other somatization disorder symptoms like headaches, backaches, sore muscles, and abdominal pain. The pain was rated on a scale ranging from “no pain” to “a whole lot of pain.” The studies found that children whose mothers had IBS somatization symptoms exhibited the same symptoms; on the other hand, daughters of mothers without IBS symptoms exhibited IBS somatization symptoms in order to get attention, especially in large families. This finding may help treat certain types of somatization disorder cases through family therapy.
  3. An investigation headed by Piero Porcelli (Bari, Italy) was published in the September 2009 issue of “Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.” The study investigated how somatization syndrome affected the quality of life and its relationship with psychiatric illness. Results indicate that somatoform disorder affected the quality of life in medical patients and that this effect was higher than that of psychiatric illness. The DCPR (Diagnostic Criteria for Psychosomatic Research) classification can provide certain sensitive diagnostic criteria for evaluating psychosomatic syndromes. This can play a significant role in the treatment course and the outcome of somatization disorders.
A report in the March issue of “Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics” suggests that clinical cases with depressive disorder and somatization disorder indicated decreased ATP production in their mitochondria. This study reveals that mitochondria functions are related to somatization disorder. This finding may lead to a new treatment plan for treating somatization disorder.

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