Somatoform Disorders


Placebo Acupuncture

Treatment Summary: In this study Kerr, Shaw, Conboy, Kelly, Jacobson & Kaptchuk (2011) looked at the use of placebo acupuncture in place of traditional acupuncture on patients suffering from unidentified or medically unexplained physical symptoms; somatoform disorders. This form of treatment is compared to other placebo treatments such as sugar pills, and even to the traditional Eastern healing method of Rieki.

  • Reference: Kerr, C.E., Shaw, J.R., Conroy, L.A., Kelly, J.M., Jacobson, E., & Kaptchuk, T.J. (2011). Placebo acupuncture as a form of ritual touch healing: A European model. Consciousness and Cognition, 20, 784 791. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2010.129
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St. John's wort extract

Treatment Summary: Adult patients were evaluated, and those with serious comorbidity, serious physical illness, or high response to placebo were excluded. Patients received 300mg capsules orally twice a day for six weeks. It had good effects on patients, independent of any depressive symptoms. This extract was recommended as being effective, fast, safe and non-sedating.

  • Reference: Volz, H. P., Murck, H., Kasper, S., & M´┐Żller, H. J. (2002). St. John's wort extract (LI 160) in somatoform disorders: results of a placebo-controlled trial. Psychopharmacology, 164 (3), 294-300. Erratum in Psychopharmacology (2003), 167 (3), 333.
  • Submitter: Martin Friesen

Treatment Summary: Somatoform disorder is closely associated with anxiety and depression symptoms. It is closely linked to hypochondrias. There are indications that CBT is highly effective treatment. Along with the CBT it is recommended that the patient be treated for any presenting physical symptoms

  • Reference: Piegza, M., Pudlo, R., Badura-Brzoza, K., & Hese, R. T. (2009). Cardiac syndrome X from a psychosomatic point of view. Archives of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy , 23-27. Warner, C. M., Reigada, L. C., Fisher, P. H., Saborsky, A. L., & Benkov, K. J. (2009). CBT for Anxiety and Associated Somatic Complaints in Pediatric Medical Settings: An Open Pilot Study. Journal for Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings , 169-177.
  • Submitter: Leasa Arms

Cognitive Behavioral Treatment

Treatment Summary: CBT seems to be the optimal treatment for somatoform as there is no medical explanation but it can be looked at in terms of both responding and operant conditioning. The treatment usually follows 5 steps: 1: Assessment 2: Rationale of treatment choice 3: Course of treatment 4: Evaluation of treatment 5: Reviewing treatment effects. These steps are important because it allows for the individualized treatment where behaviors can be focused on individually identifying the behavior and consequences associated with it. Then the patient can focus on extinguishing or reducing the behavior through multiple techniques. In using CBT the therapist attempts to modify the attitudes and schema associated with previous actions.

  • Reference: Tazaki, M., & Landlaw, K. (2006). Behavioural mechanisms and cognitive-behavioural interventions of somatoform disorders. International Review of Psychiatry, 18(1), 67-73. doi:10.1080/09540260500467046
  • Submitter: Shanna Schopmeyer
Virtual Advisor