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Diagnosing a somatofor disorder is risky

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Diagnosing a somatofor disorder is risky

Postby anbsnrkllr » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:52 am

I don't want to make people who really don't have a physical problem to be more afraid of been misdiagnosed. But I think that being misdiagnosed is a real treat when diagnosing an undifferentiated somatoform disorder and that it's not easy for the doctors to be sure that they are not missing a real physical problem.

I have just been diagnosed with a superior mesenteric artery syndrome, which is a very rare but dangerous physical illness. My symptoms appears when I was 23 years old and the doctors where unable to explained them. It took them only one year to conclude that I'm having somatisation, which means that don't have any physical problem at all. Shortly after, I have been diagnosed as having a undifferentiated somatoform disorder.

The result of this was that I have been systematically excluded by all doctors each time I was very sick. I should say that we have here, in Canada, a public health system, which means that I have only one medical record that is accessible to all the doctors. So, when I went in different towns to have a second opinion, it didn't make any difference because they could have the read the information, including the somatoform diagnostic.

The result is that my heart has weakened during the years because my artery was squeezed, until I start having heart failure and lost 30 pounds in some months. Then they didn't have other choices than to make me have many physical tests, and finally found the true 'cause of my condition. Unfortunately, more than 10 years later, it was to late to make me have a surgery because my heart is now too much weak. Without the existence of the undifferentiated somatoform disorder, I would have been probably treated quickly enough to have a normal life right now.

Like I said, I don't want people who have symptoms because of anxiety to start panicking. But I wanted to share my experience because I hope that doctors would really think twice before diagnose a somatoform disorder. There is really no risk of making too much unnecessary medical tests, but there is a bog one if you are missing something, but the patient is the only one who will pay. I wonder if it worth to use diagnosis like somatoform disorders. Who really benefit from them? Even for people who have no serious medical problem : Does this diagnosis really help them? Does it change anything in their life?
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Re: Diagnosing a somatofor disorder is risky

Postby javert » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:39 am

I am sorry to hear about your illness and misdiagnosis anbsnrkllr.
I would think any misdiagnosis is unhelpful and potentially harmful. I can understand why you would be angry at not getting better medical care.

I haven't been formally diagnosed but have been told that I have a problem with somatization. I think this helped me to focus on my mental health. I now know that it's probably not going to be worthwhile for me to look at my physical symptoms in isolation. So instead of trying to work out what's wrong with my body, I can look at myself as a whole person (mind and body). I also feel more motivated to work on my mental health, hoping that it will lead to better physical health.
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Re: Diagnosing a somatofor disorder is risky

Postby anbsnrkllr » Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:43 am

Javert, I could relate so much to what you said. I have thought and reacted exactly as you do, and it's not a bad thing at all to think about the mental side, 'cause it's surely not easy to not feel well physically. It helped a lot, but it has not prevented my physical condition become worse. Well I'm talking about me, for you it could be different. Maybe you really have an undifferentiated somatoform disorder. I personally think that this disorder, if it really exists, is extremely rare. There have been examples I think, like those soldiers who were becoming temporarily blind when there were taking a flight to bombard a city during the 2nd world war, because the missions were so stressful. But we are not talking here about someone who is still stick years after years despite a total absence of a significant source of stress.

This disorder is define by symptoms that are real but have no physical cause. What is the difference between "no physical cause" and "symptoms not yet explained"? This disorder should be diagnosed only when there's an obvious link with a stress source, and not after not being able to identify the cause. Let us not be naive: this disorder is actually mostly used when the doctors don't want to do any search on a patient.
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