The traits that characterize people with somatization disorder are the following:
Cognitive or thinking characteristics
Cognitive characteristics include attention focused on somatic symptoms and the attribution of normal bodily sensations to physical illness (possibly with catastrophic interpretations).
Also, they also include concerns about the disease and the fear that any physical activity could harm the body.
Since somatization disorder is associated with depressive disorders, there is an increased risk of suicide. It is not known whether somatization disorder is related to the risk of death regardless of its association with depressive disorders.
Characteristics of behavior
The relevant behavioral characteristics associated may be the repeated physical verification of abnormalities, the constant search for medical attention and safety, and the avoidance of physical activity. These behavioral characteristics are more pronounced in severe and persistent somatization disorders, as is to be expected.
These characteristics are usually associated with frequent consultations of medical advice for different somatic or bodily symptoms. This can lead to medical meetings in which individuals are so focused on their concerns about somatic symptoms that the conversation cannot be redirected to other issues.
There is often a high degree of utilization of medical care. However, this rarely relieves the individual of their concerns. As a result, the person can receive medical attention from several doctors for the same symptoms.
Frequent visits to the doctor
Any attempt to reassure the doctor and explain that the symptoms are not indicative of a severe physical illness is usually ephemeral. Individuals experience it as if the doctor did not take his signs with due seriousness.
Since focusing on bodily symptoms is a significant feature of the disease, people with somatization disorder often go to general medical health services instead of mental health services.
The suggestion of a referral to a mental health specialist to individuals with a somatization disorder can be experienced with surprise or even with outright rejection.
What is the prevalence of somatization disorder?
The prevalence of somatization disorder is unknown although it is estimated that in the general adult population it can be between 5 and 7%. On the other hand, it is believed to be less than that of the undifferentiated somatoform disorder. Also, women tend to report more somatic symptoms than men, and the prevalence of somatization disorder is probably, as a consequence, higher in women than in men.