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There are several approaches to verifying a somatic illness concern. Getting the patient's complete medical history is crucial, first and foremost. Information on prior medical conditions, prescription medications, and treatments should be included (Cleveland Clinic, 2022). It's critical to perform a physical examination and seek any required testing. Laboratory testing may also be necessary to check for any underlying medical conditions (Cleveland Clinic, 2022). The correct course of treatment, which may include medication, counseling, or other measures, can be started as soon as the patient has been diagnosed. When evaluating somatic symptom disorders, the biopsychosocial approach considers every aspect of the patient's life. This encompasses social, biological, and psychological elements. The significance of this method is in its ability to detect any underlying causes that may be aggravating or causing the symptoms.
The biopsychosocial approach is crucial for diagnosing diseases characterized by somatic symptoms because it considers every element of a person's life that can impact their symptoms (Butler, et al., 2004). For instance, psychological elements like worry or stress can frequently exacerbate physical symptoms. Relationships and work-related stress are examples of social elements that might potentially be important. Lastly, biological elements like heredity or specific medical disorders may also be essential. As a result, it's critical to consider each of these elements when diagnosing. Because there are frequently multiple plausible reasons for the symptoms, diagnosing a mental condition based just on physical symptoms without a medical explanation can be complex. Since the patient's symptoms and discomfort seem to be related to a physical ailment, diagnosing somatic symptom disorder can be highly challenging (Worth, 2024).
For instance, a medical condition, a mental health issue, or even stress or anxiety could be the source of the symptoms. As a result, when diagnosing, it's critical to consider everything. References Butler, C. C., Evans, M., Greaves, D., & Simpson, S. (2004). Medically unexplained symptoms: the biopsychosocial model found wanting. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 97(5), 219-222. Clinic. (2022). Somatic Symptom Disorder in Adults. Cleveland Clinic: , T. (2024). What Is Somatic Symptom Disorder?
People with somatic symptom disorder (SSD) are likely to visit a medical office rather than seek help in a mental health setting (APA, 2022). Because of that, when a patient seeks support, conducting a comprehensive medical health exam would be the first step (Cleveland Clinic, 2022). After completing a medical exam, the psychological evaluation would be completed (Cleveland Clinic, 2022).
The biopsychosocial approach focuses on an individual's medical condition on a biological level and examines the individual from psychological and social perspectives to obtain a comprehensive understanding (Physiopedia, n.d.). SSD may or may not be associated with a medical condition, and the response to the somatic symptom would be excessive to the medical condition that might be present (APA, 2022). Therefore, a biopsychosocial analysis would provide a comprehensive understanding and help professionals create a better treatment plan (Cetin & Varma, 2021). Diagnosing individuals with SSD is complex because the characteristics of the disorder are not the somatic symptoms but the way people present and interpret them (APA, 2022). Excessive reactions to somatic symptoms should be investigated at biopsychosocial levels to incorporate "affective, cognitive, and behavioral components of the criteria" (APA, 2022, p. 349). There are increased risk factors to be investigated, such as personal histories, such as childhood trauma; societal factors, such as low income and low education; and sociocultural factors, such as expression and explanation of distress in different cultures, the social roles carried by individuals (APA, 2022; Cetin & Varma, 2021). A thorough understanding of the underlying reasons for the somatic symptoms would lead to effective treatment planning.References