Patients presenting with somatic complaints

Epidemiology, psychiatric co-morbidity and management

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

349 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Somatic symptoms are the leading cause of outpatient medical visits and also the predominant reason why patients with common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety initially present in primary care. At least 33% of somatic symptoms are medically unexplained, and these symptoms are chronic or recurrent in 20% to 25% of patients. Unexplained or multiple somatic symptoms are strongly associated with coexisting depressive and anxiety disorders. Other predictors of psychiatric co-morbidity include recent stress, lower self-rated health and higher somatic symptom severity, as well as high healthcare utilization, difficult patient encounters as perceived by the physician, and chronic medical disorders. Antidepressants and cognitive-behavioural therapy are both effective for treatment of somatic symptoms, as well as for functional somatic syndromes such as irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, pain disorders, and chronic headache. A stepped care approach is described, which consists of three phases that may be useful in the care of patients with somatic symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-43
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2003

Fingerprint

Psychiatry
Epidemiology
Morbidity
Headache Disorders
Somatoform Disorders
Fibromyalgia
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Cognitive Therapy
Depressive Disorder
Medically Unexplained Symptoms
Anxiety Disorders
Mental Disorders
Antidepressive Agents
Primary Health Care
Patient Care
Outpatients
Anxiety
Depression
Delivery of Health Care
Physicians

Keywords

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Co-morbidity
  • Depression
  • Somatic symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

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