In psychosomatic illnesses, mental factors are expressed as physical symptoms (a process called somatization), and the person’s main concern is physical (somatic – from the Greek word for the body) symptoms, such as pain, weakness, fatigue, nausea or others bodily sensations.
A person suffers for a long time, but not a single physician of a somatic profile (therapist, neurologist, surgeon) can make a diagnosis.
Medical test results are either normal or do not explain the symptoms. However, complaints cause excessive concern, and a person constantly makes appointments to doctors and takes tests. Anxious thoughts take up all time and energy, interfere with work and life.
Psychosomatic diseases and disorders include:
Conversion symptoms. The neurotic conflict receives a secondary somatic response and processing. The symptom is symbolic, the demonstration of symptoms can be understood as an attempt to resolve the conflict. Conversion manifestations mainly affect voluntary motor skills and sense organs. Examples are hysterical paralysis and paresthesias, psychogenic blindness and deafness, vomiting, pain phenomena.
Functional syndromes. This group includes the overwhelming majority of “problem patients” who come to an appointment with a variegated picture of often vague complaints that can affect the cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal tract, locomotor system, respiratory system, or genitourinary system.
The doctor’s “helplessness” regarding this symptomatology is explained, among other things, by the variety of concepts that denote these complaints. Often such patients have only functional disorders of individual organs or systems, any organic changes, as a rule, are not detected. Unlike conversion symptoms, an individual symptom has no specific meaning, being a non-specific consequence of impaired bodily function.
Diseases associated with organic changes are usually called true psychosomatic diseases, or psychosomatosis. Initially, 7 psychosomatoses (“holy seven”) were isolated: bronchial asthma, ulcerative colitis, essential hypertension, neurodermatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, gastric and duodenal ulcers, hyperthyroidism.
Later, this list expanded – psychosomatic disorders include cancer, infectious and other diseases.
Somatoform disorders also include: somatoform autonomic dysfunction of the nervous system (vegetative dystonia) and hypochondria