People with somatic symptom disorder (SSD) become extremely focused on physical symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, and tiredness. While these symptoms are real and could be due to a legitimate health condition, in cases of SSD, the focus is intense enough to cause significant psychological and physical distress, and make day-to-day functioning difficult. People with this disorder often believe a serious condition is causing their symptoms and continue to seek care medical care even after a minor diagnosis or a doctor has reassured them. Although somatic symptom disorder can affect the quality of life, there are effective treatment options available.
Somatic symptom disorder most often starts when an individual is younger than 30, and it is more prevalent in women than men. Often, there is no clear reason why the person has developed the condition. However, a personality that tends towards a negative outlook can be one factor, as can a family history of the condition or related disorders. Some research suggests those who are predisposed to be highly sensitive to physical pain and discomfort are more likely to develop somatic symptom disorder, and there may also be a genetic component.
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