Somatoform Disorders

This website is dedicated to all those who suffer from any of the various Somatoform Disorders, including Functional Neurological Disorders (FND), Conversion Disorders (CD), Somatisation Disorders (SD), Non Epileptic Attack Disorders (NEAD), Psychogenic Non Epileptic Seizures (PNES) and Functional Movement Disorders (FMD). This site is also dedicated to the families and friends of sufferers of these disorders.

The information about these disorders is scattered, and the conditions are not well understood by so many health professionals and other service providers, so my vision is to see an Australian support group properly set up to provide easy-to-find and easy-to-understand information to everyone who has an interest of any kind in Somatoform Disorders.

What Causes Somatoform Disorders?

The causes of Somatoform Disorders are not well known, and in up to a third of cases, never found or are found to be organic in nature (e.g. epilepsy or TIAs). A number of other things have been known to 'cause' Somatoform Disorders, including car accidents, minor bumps to the head, strong reactions to starting drugs, especially SSRIs and SNRIs, and occasionally stopping these drugs. Anaesthesia and or painful surgery are also known to have caused symptoms to start in a significant number of people.

In spite of this very high percentage of cases where there is absolutely no history of trauma or emotional involvement of any kind, it is commonly believed that the main cause of Somatoform Disorders seems to be the inability for a person's emotions to surface into the conscious area of the brain properly.

The subconconscious mind continually processes things that pour in from all the various senses that we are almost completely unaware of unless we stop and think about them. Almost all of this stuff is automatically stored away without any conscious awareness. Only a very small percentage surfaces to the conscious part of the brain which is when we become aware of it.

The Flight, Fight, Freeze mechanism completely bypasses the conscious mind as the subconscious mind sends instructions straight down into the body when faced with a threat. This process seems to be triggered more often in some people than in others and instead of the sensory input coming up into the person's consciousness, it goes down into the body. This can cause all kinds of physical symptoms ranging from digestive upsets (such as stress reactions and food sensitivities) to weird neurological symptoms and more.

There seems to be a common thread with Somatoform sufferers that this process seems to happen more often than in the normal population. Completely subconscious thoughts trigger symptoms without the person having any awareness of the triggering thought.

It is generally accepted that these people don't seem to be aware of or understand their emotions correctly. or express them appropriately, so therefore anything that helps a person to understand their emotions better seems to help them.

Who Gets Somatoform Disorders?

It seems that Somatoform symptoms are very common in the general community. It has been reported that up to 80% of doctor visits could be for Somatoform symptoms. It's only when these symptoms interfere with quality of life or start appearing in many different areas of the body that it becomes a Disorder.

Somatoform Disorders can occur in males and females and at any age, however it more commonly starts in teenage girls and for some men it seems to start later, perhaps as a midlife crisis. It is also quite common in teenage girls who have a very good relationship with their mothers, ie the Good Girl Syndrome. This could be because the subconscious tries to prevent their mother from finding out any hidden 'dark' thoughts.

Many people with a Somatoform Disorder have had a traumatic experience in their younger life. Most of them have been unable to talk to their significant adult (parent) or other person about it for one reason or another. The Disorder may not surface for many years, but this does seem to be a common thread for somatisers.

Contact Us

I have set up this site because I suffer from a Functional Neurological Disorder (FND). I was originally diagnosed as having Somatisation Disorder, however this label is no longer valid and has been unofficially replaced with the label of FND. 

I understand exactly what it's like to have seizures and other weird, sometimes frightening and almost completely unexplained symptoms that interfere with my daily life. I would love to have contact with other people who have this condition. You can contact me at...

vivienne@somatoformaustralia.org