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Chapter 9. Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders

DOI: 10.1176/appi.books.9781585624836.673701
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Somatic symptom disorder (SSD) is a DSM-5 diagnosis that describes a cluster of patients who have distressing somatic symptoms along with abnormal thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in response to these symptoms. It is an umbrella term intended to describe most of the patients who had previously held such diagnoses as somatization disorder, pain disorder, and hypochondriasis, which appeared in the DSM-IV chapter on somatoform disorders. A key difference is that diagnosing SSD requires a search for positive symptoms, such as distress and dysfunction, rather than a search for a negative (ruling out medically unexplained symptoms). Patients can—and often do—have physiologically based medical diagnoses, but the new diagnosis allows the clinician to focus on the distress and abnormal thoughts, feelings, and behaviors rather than the validity of patients’ medical complaints.

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