Somatic Symptom Disorder Compensation Claims
Specialist Somatic Symptom Disorder Solicitors to Represent You
The Importance of Having a Somatic Symptom Disorder Lawyer
Whether or not it involves medically unexplained symptoms, a chronic illness can take a toll, physically, psychologically, and economically. Somatic Symptom Disorder (SSD, also known as Somatoform Disorder) is a recognised condition which is compensable in law. So, even if the pain derives purely from a psychological origin, an award of damages can be received. Somatic Symptom Disorder can be successfully treated and therefore damages are lessened by the diagnosis. It can however co-exist with a physical condition, such that someone may be experiencing a heightened sense of pain from a physical injury, owing to their symptoms of Somatic Symptom Disorder.
As chronic pain lawyers, we regularly encounter arguments that physical conditions are in fact Somatoform Disorders. The reason for this is the insurance industry is keen to reduce their liability and a finding of Somatic Symptom Disorder rather than a physical cause of pain would greatly reduce the insurers liability.
We are experienced with somatic symptom compensation claims and understand how to identify and advise on the risks in litigation concerning a somatoform diagnosis. If you are being told “the pain is in your head”, that doesn’t mean you’re making it up, but it may mean you have Somatic Symptom Disorder. As part of the claims process we can explore in detail your medical history and obtain opinions from leading experts nationally on this subject in order to get you answers and the appropriate compensation. Not all invisible illnesses are Somatoform Disorders and we understand how the separate conditions in evidence.
At FT Chronic Pain Solicitors, we are leading and award-winning experts in chronic pain conditions who will fight for you to help you receive the compensation to which you are entitled, so that you can focus on managing your disorder. Unlike other law firms, we do not operate with brick-and-mortar constraints, and we don’t dilute our focus onother areas of the law.
We are a modern law firm with an agile working ethos that allows us to be where you are, and our attention is solely on helping clients who suffer from chronic pain conditions like Somatic Symptom Disorder. Whether you are seeking counsel for the first time or you wish to move your personal injury claim to a firm with experienced Somatic Symptom Disorder solicitors, FT Chronic Pain Solicitors is here to help. Send us an email, or give us a call for a consultation.
Somatic Symptom Disorder FAQs
What is Somatic Symptom Disorder?
Somatic Symptom Disorder, also called Psychosomatic Disorder or Somatoform Disorder, is a mental illness that causes physical symptoms, including pain.
The mind body connection is strong and, in many ways, we're still learning all that that connection entails. Our bodies house our minds, yet our minds control our bodies. It’s clear that they are connected, but the extent of that connection might surprise you. There’s research to indicate, for example, that mindfulness exercises can reduce diabetic symptoms, while depression can lower the white blood cell count. In some cases, like Somatic Symptom Disorder, mental health can have a major impact on physical well-being.
What are the Symptoms of Somatic Symptom Disorder?
Somatic Symptom Disorder makes a person feel bodily symptoms in response to psychological stress. Sometimes, the symptoms are traceable to a physical cause, but in other cases, there is no medical reason for the pain. This doesn’t mean that a person with Somatic Symptom Disorder is faking the symptoms, or that he or she is not really in distress. Whether or not there’s a viable physical explanation, the symptoms are very real, and they can be extremely disruptive to daily functioning. Somatic Symptom Disorder symptoms include pain, neurologic problems, gastrointestinal distress, and sexual issues. They can be excessive and involve one or more different body systems and organs. Often, people with Somatic Symptom Disorder also have an anxiety disorder, eating disorder, or depression. Many children are affected with Somatic Symptom Disorder, often presenting with stomach aches, joint pain, and headaches. They may also experience separation anxiety, school phobia, and sometimes selective mutism. It is estimated that as much as 10% of children in the UK suffer from Somatic Symptom Disorder, often being given the diagnosis of ‘medically unexplained symptoms’.
How is Somatic Symptom Disorder Diagnosed?
Before giving a diagnosis of Somatic Symptom Disorder, doctors must first rule out other possible causes for the symptoms, not least because such a diagnosis is very frustrating to patients. They often feel unsatisfied because of the lack of a physical explanation for their symptoms. For a patient, it is stressful to be told that one’s reaction to physical symptoms is excessive. The stress that comes with this diagnosis causes patients to have additional anxiety about their health, which leads to worsening symptoms, and this vicious cycle can go on for years.
The primary type of Somatic Symptom Disorder is persistent somatoform pain disorder. This condition is characterised by persistent severe and distressing pain without evidence of a physical ailment. This pain occurs in conjunction with emotional or psychosocial issues that lead to an increase in attention and support. This support and attention can be personal or medical.
There are psychiatric conditions related to Somatic Symptom Disorder. Illness anxiety disorder, which used to be called hypochondriasis, causes a preoccupation with serious illness. Patients with illness anxiety disorder often believe that minor symptoms are actually signs of a catastrophic medical condition. Understandably, someone would become anxious because of a belief that every headache is probably a sign of a brain tumour.
Conversion disorder, also called functional neurological symptom disorder, is another condition linked with Somatic Symptom Disorder. In this case, patients have neurological symptoms including weakness or paralysis, blindness, hearing loss, numbness, seizures, and abnormal movements like tremors or an unsteady gait. Stress makes the symptoms of this condition worse. When examined by a healthcare provider, the patient shows no signs of any physical or neurological disorders. However, there is evidence that the symptoms are associated with stress or problems in the person's life because the symptoms and the stressors occurred around the same time. There is a very real concern that serious physical or psychiatric disorders may occur later, so this should always be considered.
Some somatic symptom disorders last for six months or less. One such disorder is pseudocyesis, a condition in which women falsely believe they are pregnant. This belief is confirmed for them because they experience outward signs of pregnancy, including cessation of the menstrual period, an expanding abdomen, nausea, breast changes, foetal movement, and even labour pains.
It is easy to understand why patients with Somatic Symptom Disorder would insist that there must be a physical cause for their symptoms, despite a lack of evidence. When there is a medical condition that causes the symptoms, patients experiencing this disorder may not realize that their reaction to the symptoms is extreme or excessive. They typically dismiss the idea that there are any psychiatric factors coming into play with their symptoms.
What Somatic Symptom Disorder Treatment is Available?
The key to successful Somatic Symptom Disorder treatment is a strong doctor-patient relationship. When a patient with this condition sees one doctor consistently, and that doctor has experience managing Somatic Symptom Disorder, many unnecessary tests and treatments will be eliminated. Working together, the doctor and patient can focus on the improvement of daily function, rather than on managing symptoms. it's important for a doctor treating someone with Somatic Symptom Disorder to attempt to understand the patient's belief about the illness and feelings about being referred to mental health services. the doctor should not question the validity of the symptoms and should be careful to acknowledge that the patient's life is being disrupted. Communication with the patient should be clear, including a discussion of the results of physical examinations and tests. The prevalence of medically unexplained symptoms should be explained in a way that is reassuring and non-judgmental. Emphasis should be placed on the fact that people can recover with the proper treatment.
Counselling is an important part of treatment, and cognitive behavioural therapy has been shown to be effective in treating this disorder. When a patient undergoes CBT, the focus is on correcting distorted thoughts and unrealistic beliefs, as well as behaviours that exacerbate anxiety. another aspect of counselling is encouraging self-monitoring and teaching motivational techniques along with techniques that help the patient to develop coping strategies and attitudes. It is often useful for family and friends to undergo counselling as well. Family counselling can help the family and the patient develop healthy coping skills and problem-solving skills. It is important to shift the focus from physical symptoms to symptom-free periods and pleasant experiences.
No medication has proven effective in treating Somatic Symptom Disorder. Sometimes, however, medications may help treat related conditions. For instance, a doctor might want to prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for depression or anxiety that the patient is experiencing due to Somatic Symptom Disorder. When depression and anxiety are lessened, it may become easier to address the physical symptoms of this condition.
Why do People Develop Somatic Symptom Disorder?
There are many reasons why this can happen. Sometimes the person has experienced physical illness and has a vulnerable and sensitive personality, with a high drive to achieve. Other times the family comes into play, particularly with children, when there are physical and mental health problems in the family, including parental somatisation and emotional over-involvement. Sometimes a family has limited emotional vocabulary, and this can make somatic disorders more likely. A high-stress environment can sometimes cause someone to develop Somatic Symptom Disorder. For children and adolescents, academic pressures, teasing, and bullying can all factor into this condition.