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Somatic Symptom Disorders

This group of disorders is characterized predominantly by somatic symptoms or concerns that are associated with significant distress and/or dysfunction. Somatic symptoms are common in every day life and medical practice. Such symptoms may be initiated, exacerbated or maintained by combinations of biological, psychological and social factors. The diagnostic criteria are applicable across the lifespan, even though developmental differences in the presentation and phenomenology of somatic symptom disorders may exist.

These disorders typically present first in non-psychiatric settings and somatic symptom disorders can accompany diverse general medical as well as psychiatric diagnoses. Having somatic symptoms of unclear etiology is not in itself sufficient to make this diagnosis. Some patients, for instance with irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia would not necessarily qualify for a somatic symptom disorder diagnosis.

When criteria are met for two disorders such as major affective disorder and complex somatic symptom disorder, both diagnoses should be coded (i.e. there is no implicit hierarchy of diagnoses). There are other psychiatric disorders which may present with prominent somatic symptoms such as depression or panic; therefore, not all presentations with somatic symptoms would qualify for this diagnosis.

Somatic Symptom Disorders