In summary, the following points should be noted:

1. Somatoform illness is one of the most common forms of psychiatric disorder encountered within the health care system and is associated with high levels of resource utilization.

2. Almost every symptom of organic illness has an ''unexplained'' (i.e., somatoform or conversion) counterpart.

3. In some cases, unexplained medical symptoms have positive features (e.g., internal inconsistency) that are indicative of a somatoform diagnosis; however, other somatoform symptoms closely resemble the symptoms of organic disease.

4. Comorbid psychopathology, particularly depression, anxiety, and personality disorders, is extremely common in patients with unexplained medical symptoms; comorbid organic pathology is also common in these patients.

5. The diagnosis of somatoform illness involves careful history taking, the exclusion of physical illness through appropriate investigation, and the assessment of psychiatric morbidity.

6. Management of somatoform illness involves containing the patient's symptoms and distress, limiting their access to investigations and hospitalizations, and preventing iatrogenic damage; careful consideration must be given to whether a formal diagnosis of somatoform illness should be used and, if so, how such a diagnosis should be presented.

7. A typical therapeutic approach involves the use of reassurance, symptomatic treatments and, where necessary, psychological intervention; the prognosis of somatoform illness is quite good, with acute symptoms being more responsive to treatment than chronic symptoms.

8. Current theorizing concerning unexplained medical symptoms is dominated by the concepts of dissociation, conversion, and somatization. Although there is limited evidence in support of these concepts, they fail to provide a complete account of the psychopatho-logical mechanisms underlying these conditions.

Getting to Know Anxiety

Getting to Know Anxiety

Stop Letting Anxiety Rule Your Life And Take Back The Control You Desire Right Now! You don't have to keep letting your anxiety disorder run your life. You can take back your inner power and change your life for the better starting today! In order to have control of a thing, you first must understand it. And that is what this handy little guide will help you do. Understand this illness for what it is. And, what it isn't.

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