Development on Somatic Symptom Disorders


Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, USA


Objective and Background: Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders (SSRD) are common across all age groups. SSRD are associated with high rates of psychiatric, medical comorbidities, and perceived functional disability as well as overuse of intensive medical services and resources. SSRD management varies between clinicians and represents a significant gap in the care of these patients. Early correct SSRD diagnosis and treatment in all age groups prevent the unnecessary use of medical resources and assure positive outcomes with symptom resolution. The SSRD diagnostic and treatment approaches are different across the age groups. Diagnostically, children present with a different risk factor profile and the course of illness than adults. Majority of mental health clinicians are uncomfortable treating SSRD due to the lack of training during residency and the absence of standardized treatment guidelines. As a result, SSRD patients often do not receive appropriate psychiatric treatment and continue “doctor shopping.”

Methods: In this workshop, the presenter will use psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES), a conversion disorder, as a clinical model for SSRD to discuss the differences and similarities of management in the pediatric and adult populations.

Results: 1) To present data reflecting developmental differences in PNES epidemiology, risk factors, course of illness, diagnostic and treatment approaches. 2) To discuss specific clinical techniques for the initial multidisciplinary diagnostic presentation to the children and adults with PNES using case examples. 3) To increase the knowledge and clinical skills necessary for the effective multidisciplinary PNES management.

Conclusions: This workshop will help participants improve their knowledge and develop the practical clinical skills necessary for the effective management of children and adults with SSRD, specifically PNES.