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Somatoform Disorders 

Somatoform disorders are a group of disorders that appear to have an organic basis but cannot be confirmed through physical examination or laboratory tests. The symptoms are not intentionally produced and cannot be accounted for by a general medical condition, substance use, or another mental disorder. The examining clinician may have a strong sense that the symptoms are linked to psychological factors or conflicts.

Somatoform disorders include:

  • Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) – preoccupation with a perceived defect in appearance that causes clinically significant distress or interferes with social interactions or work.
  • Conversion disorder – suggestive of a neurological disorder that affects sensation or voluntary motor function. Common conversion symptoms are double vision, blindness, deafness, impaired coordination, seizures, and paralysis.
  • Hypochondriasis – persistent worry about health or fear of having a disease, in spite of appropriate medical reassurance and lack of findings on physical or laboratory examination.
  • Pain disorder – pain in one or more areas of the body that causes marked distress or impairs occupational or social functioning. The pain may occur in the absence of any physical finding that might explain it or it may be related to an existing general medical condition.
  • Somatization disorder – multiple physical complaints not fully explained by any known medical condition yet severe enough to result in medical treatment or changes in lifestyle. Symptoms can include pain in different areas of the body, including internal organs.

Most of the somatoform disorders appear to be relatively common in psychiatric and other medical care settings, yet often go unrecognized and undiagnosed.

Books on Somatoform Disorders

American Psychiatric Publishing (APPI), a division of the American Psychiatric Association, publishes books that clarify the complex issues surrounding somatoform disorders and offer practical guidance and recommendations for treatment.

Somatoform and Factitious Disorders

Somatoform and Factitious Disorders offers a broad and scholarly synthesis of the current knowledge—and controversies—about somatoform and factitious disorders, including somatization disorder, hypochondriasis, body dysmorphic disorder,conversion disorder, and pain disorder..


Somatic Syndromes and Somatic SymptomsSomatic Syndromes and Somatic Symptoms surveys the biological, psychological, and psychiatric studies on nine psychosomatic syndromes, offers guidelines for diagnosis, and recommends treatments based on research findings.
Somatic Presentations of Mental Disorders: Refining the Research Agenda for DSM-5Somatic Presentations of Mental Disorders: Refining the Research Agenda for DSM-5 provides a fascinating and practical review of the epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of this frustrating, expensive to treat, and under-investigated category of disease.

View a complete list of publications related to somatoform disorders.