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Somatization Disorder

  1. Brenda Bursch

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0927

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Bursch, B. 2010. Somatization Disorder. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) defines somatization disorder as belonging to the diagnostic category of somatoform disorders; it is one of this group of psychiatric disorders defined by the presence of physical symptoms that are not fully explained by a known general medical condition, physical exam, or lab findings (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for somatization disorder require several years of physical complaints, beginning before the age of 30 years, with associated treatment seeking or disability. The symptoms must include at least four pain symptoms, two gastrointestinal symptoms, one sexual symptom, and one pseudo-neurological symptom. Common symptoms include headaches, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, menstrual cramps, fatigue, fainting, painful intercourse, sexual dysfunction, or loss of sexual desire. Symptoms are not intentionally falsified. If there is a related medical problem, the symptoms or impairment in functioning must be in excess of what would be expected from an objective medical evaluation. Somatization disorder normally begins in late childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood; it frequently runs in families, and it is much more common in females. Somatization disorder has a poor prognosis and, therefore, can be a source of significant frustration to both patients and clinicians. Somatization disorder can wax and wane in severity but normally persists throughout life.


  • somatization;
  • somatoform;
  • somatic;
  • cognitive behavioral