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- What is a Somatic Symptom Disorder?
- What is the treatment for a Somatic Symptom Disorder?
- Somatic Symptom Disorder Compensation Claims
- Somatic Symptom Disorder Solicitors
What is a Somatic Symptom Disorder?
Somatic Symptom Disorder (SSD) – formerly known as Somatoform Disorder – is a psychiatric diagnosis made where somebody has an extreme focus on physical symptoms resulting in often serious functional and emotional problems. This can occur even where there has never been an underlying physical problem or where the original physical injury or condition has resolved but symptoms persist, even becoming worse.
Although SSD has been an accepted diagnosis since 2013, other terms – some archaic, some colloquial and others used wholly inappropriately in this context – remain in common use by doctors. These include ‘Illness Anxiety Disorder’, ‘Illness Behaviour’, ‘Conversion Disorder’, ‘Factitious Disorder’, ‘Functional Overlay’, ‘Hypochondriasis’ and ‘Medically Unexplained Syptoms’.
To be absolutely clear, the symptoms of a person suffering a SSD are entirely genuine. Indeed, they can have a profoundly disabling effect on the sufferer who, understandably, may struggle to accept that their severe limitations may be psychological in origin.
“Thank you Andrew. I was at my wits end with [previous solicitors] but it took me a long time to pluck up the courage to call you. All I can say is what a difference you’ve made. All the way along you’ve been so reassuring and confident and always made time to speak to me. I wish all solicitors could be like you. Thank you again.” ML (£315,000 recovered), August 2018
Keep up to date with the latest developments relating to Somatic Symptome Disorders and chronic pain more generally through our topical and regularly updated Blog.
What is the treatment for a Somatic Symptom Disorder?
The ultimate goal is to improve your ability to function day to day. To achieve this, there are broadly three aspects to your treatment.
Typically, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) will be recommended. Amongst other things, this can help to:
- reduce stress and depression;
- address your thoughts, expectations and preoccupations relating to your health;
- reduce your avoidance of certain activities and situations;
- teach you coping strategies.
Antidepressant medication is commonly prescribed to people suffering a Somatic Symptom Disorder, but not just to treat symptoms of depression. Some antidepressant drugs such as Amitriptyline, Venlafaxine and Duloxetine can help to reduce pain, which is commonly a major feature of a Somatic Symptom Disorder, regardless of the presence or otherwise of depression.
Changes to lifestyle and learning a variety of coping strategies can help to improve your quality of life by enabling you to become more involved in domestic, family and social activities. This can best be achieved with the help of professionals such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists and psychologists.
With help, many people are able to increase the range and duration of daily activities and in so doing also further improve their fitness and function.
Stress management and relaxation techniques can also help to improve symptoms.
Somatic Symptom Disorder Compensation Claims
Claims involving a Somatic Symptom Disorder are highly complex in terms of the evidence required to prove the claim and a forensic approach is required in evidence gathering. It goes without saying that a claimant suffering a SSD can expect to be treated by the defendant’s insurer and their lawyers with, at best, considerable scepticism.
They will the subject of the full gamut of personal intrusion. Covert surveillance and the monitoring of social media will be the absolute minimum you can expect. This is why it is important to instruct specialist solicitors who will not only anticipate this, but will be ready to deal with the other side robustly when it materialises.
Somatic Symptom Disorder Solicitors
Over the years our team of SSD Solictors have successfully represented many people who have developed a Somatic Symptom Disorder following an accident. Most will have begun their claims with other law firms before becoming disillusioned at their lack of expertise and understanding.
If you are in this situation you will at best be frustrated, at worst extremely distressed. Comments such as “they must have missed something”, “nobody believes me” and “they think it’s all in my head” are common and this is of course entirely understandable.
Medical and other records will not have been obtained and/or reviewed, wholly unsatisfactory medical reports (often from the wrong type of medical experts) will have been obtained and those reports are commonly peppered with inappropriate phrases such as “medically unexplained”, “psychological overlay”, “functional overlay” and “unreliable historian”.
Inevitably, there will be a lot to do to get your claim back on track. But that is where our extensive experience and expertise comes into play.
“Richard’s understanding, professionalism and sheer tenacity was inspirational and his hard work turned the case around resulting in my receiving a settlement which included funds that allow me to receive treatment that help make my condition more bearable. My husband and I are extremely grateful to Richard, his secretary Amanda and BLB for all they have done for me.” PS (£410,000 recovered), September 2017