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Review Article

Somatization in depression and anxiety disorders

E. Müjgan Özen, Z. Nergis Aküzüm Serhadlı, A. Solmaz Türkcan, Gülten Erben Ülker.

Somatization may be described as the tendency to express psychological dysphoria through bodily symptoms. Patients complain of physical signs which they attribute to a medical disease and seek medical help for, but the symptoms do not fullfill diagnostic criteria of an organic disorder. Although somatization is known to be associated with many psychiatric disorders, it mostly accompanies depression and anxiety disorders. Somatic symptoms are thought to be a manifestation of somatized dysphoria in depression and/or anxiety. Somatization, stil accepted to be an unsolved problem in the borderland of medicine and psychiatry, leads to an increase in psychological distress and disability of patients and worsens the prognosis of psychiatric disorders. On the other hand, somatization may mask real psychiatric symptomatology leading to a delay in true diagnosis and effective treatment. This review aims to evaluate the effects of somatization on the clinical picture, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of depression and anxiety disorders.

Key words: Somatization, depression, anxiety disorders, dysphoria, somatic

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