Somatization Disorder
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Sometimes a headache is just a headache.

To a person with somatization disorder, it’s brain cancer. A stomach ache? A sign of having six months to live. A pain in the arm? An imminent heart attack.

It’s easy to dismiss patients with somatization disorder – to a lot of people around the patient, it seems like a disease which always makes a person cry wolf. To the parent of a teen with somatization disorder, it’s a disease which looks like an attempt to get out of school or chores. It isn’t – to a patient with this disorder, the problems are all too real.

Sovereign Health knows that psychiatric illnesses like this need a lot of attention to recover from, particularly in younger people. Our residential treatment center, Rancho San Diego, offers adolescents aged 12 to 17 a welcoming, safe and secure space to work on their problems and move beyond their challenges.

The cruel thing about the physical somatization disorder symptoms is that they are real. A patient with this illness isn’t imagining their stomachache, or a cramp in their leg – they’re genuinely in pain. It’s that they’re in pain for completely different reasons. Someone with somatization disorder has a skewed sense of reality – they see every ache and pain as a harbinger of doom and not merely as momentary physical discomfort or the sign of a much less serious problem.

Patients with this disorder often become consumed with the idea of their health failing, spending hours researching diseases and symptoms. The repeated visits to the doctor a patient with somatization disorder do no good – often, a patient will ignore the doctor’s diagnosis, convinced they can’t see the real problem. In some cases, the obsession about health and disease can effectively cripple a person’s life by making them believe normal activities – school, work, social activities with friends – will only make their perceived health problems worse.

For teens, there’s an additional risk – somatization disorder, like many other mental illnesses, may not easily be misunderstood by their friends. A teen who thinks every blemish is skin cancer, every trip during a soccer game is a broken leg and spends a lot of time in the nurse’s office is very likely going to be made fun of and possibly face social rejection. This is the reason mental illnesses urgently need treating in adolescents.

Symptoms of Somatization Disorder

  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Shortness of breath

Red Flags of Somatization Disorder

  • Reacting to mild symptoms with intense anxiety and worry
  • Reading mild pains – headaches, stomachaches – as signs of serious disease
  • Asking to visit the doctor or other healthcare provider often
  • Disbelieving the doctor’s diagnoses
  • Spending most of the time obsessing about health problems
  • Behaviors and thoughts related to illness interfering with daily functioning

Causes and Risk Factors for Somatization Disorder

Somatization disorder occurs more frequently in women than men. Although it’s unclear exactly why and how somatization disorder develops, it’s possible some of the following factors may drive the illness:

  • A negative personality or view of the world
  • A greater physical or emotional sensitivity towards pain
  • Genetic links
  • Upbringing or family history – like many disorders, having a close relative with somatization disorder may be a risk factor for the disorder

Additionally, having a history of abuse can also be a risk factor for somatization disorder. It may be possible to “learn” this disorder from a parent, friend or other relative. Sick people often receive more attention and sympathy than others, leading a patient who feels ignored and rejected to view perceived illness as a quick way to find attention from others.

Getting Somatization Disorder Treatment

The idea of having a disorder which compels patients to seek medical attention for every imaginable ache and pain sounds relatively benign – particularly when compared to a disease like schizophrenia. However, it’s an illness with effects which can be potentially alienating for a younger patient, robbing a teen of friendship and important social events. Sovereign Health knows how difficult somatization disorder treatment can be for teens. That is why our Rancho San Diego location provides them with a supportive community in which to recover.

Rancho San Diego isn’t a jail or a reform school. It is a safe, secure, summer camp-like recovery center which allows its patients to receive somatization disorder treatment free from distractions and outside pressures. Sovereign utilizes both traditional and alternative treatment modalities to ensure our youngest patients have the best chance at a full recovery. In addition to psychotherapy and group therapy, our patients can go on hikes, swim in our pool and participate in activities ranging from art therapy to yoga.

We can help you today!

We accept Most Private Insurance, reach out to us to so we can help!

Why Choose Sovereign Health?

We’re the best possible destination for your troubled teen when they need treatment for somatization disorder. Why?

  • Rancho San Diego is a safe, welcoming environment with 24/7 crisis intervention
  • We’re fully accredited by the Joint Commission, the largest health care accreditation organization in the U.S.
  • Sovereign Health compassionately treats its patients as individuals, healing them in both mind and body

A healthier life can start now. Please call our 24/7 helpline to learn more about our treatment for somatization disorder.

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"There was more than just therapy. There were life skills that were taught and everyone here cared genuinely." - Jack