DSM‘s Somatoform Disorders: millions more might be diagnosed

dsmOn Dr. David Healy’s website from yesterday there is an article about the very problematic Somatic Symptom Disorder category in the DSM 5. I’ve written about this before because it’s of particular interest to many folks who’ve suffered iatrogenic damage from psychiatric drugs. Psychiatric drug withdrawal syndromes are sometimes devastating crippling physical illnesses that can last months and years. We have all faced being told our issues are psychiatric. We have routinely suffered from little or no care from our health care providers. We have had to take care of each other completely out of the system. Remaining in the care of doctors has often been dangerous. Somatic Symptom Disorder category further institutionalizes this dangerous trend.

One of the common manifestations of debilitation when struck with withdrawal syndromes are numerous, often bizarre, acute, painful and disabling physical sensations. They include varieties of neuropathies and parasthesias. They are not in the patients head.  And since the psych drug use caused these disabling symptoms prescribing more drugs to cure them is exactly the wrong way to go but it’s what psychiatrists are inclined to do. This, of course, already happens. Many people are wrongly diagnosed when they start manifesting adverse reactions or acute responses to withdrawal from drugs.  They are routinely disbelieved when they start reporting such adverse events. The phenomena of protracted withdrawal syndrome is widely denied. See: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

From Dr. David Healy’s site, by Richard Lawhern:

With SSD,  you can be labeled with a mental problem simply because you have deep distress about your health that a doctor judges to be “excessive” or the doctor thinks your life has become dominated by your illness and symptoms. The same label may be applied to you if a doctor considers you as “over-involved” in the symptoms of a child for whom you are a care-giver. Cases have already occurred in which children have been removed from the custody of parents deemed to have facilitated their “illness behaviors”.

While psychosomatic disorders appear in previous editions of the DSM, the new SSD is particularly problematic. The scope of the disorder and diagnostic criteria are greatly broadened from the DSM-IV. SSD may now be applied to patients with either diagnosed or undiagnosed problems. Only one criteria of several need to be applied as a basis for the diagnosis.

There is reason to believe that SSD may be widely assigned to patients in the early stages of relatively complex medical problems such as Lupus, Lyme Disease, cancer, diabetes, cardiac problems, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome or fibromyalgia. Many fibromyalgia and CFS patients already report being told that their medical problems are primarily emotional rather than medical in origin. –  (read more)

The plight of so many who have taken psych meds getting seriously ill is not mentioned in the article. I have several articles on this blog that talk about the common features of withdrawal syndromes with illnesses like chronic fatigue and other serious autoimmune illness included in the above list. Psych drug withdrawal is strikingly similar to many serious chronic illnesses, all of which impact the autonomic nervous system which in turn cause broadly systemic issues in the body.

There is an ongoing failure to recognize the iatrogenic illness (medically induced physical illness) that these drugs often cause, especially when people withdraw from them but often simply as a result of going on and off them as is routinely done in the treatment of those who are called “treatment resistant.” The med “merry-go-rounds” that so many people experience in psychiatric care are quite often the cause of what gets called treatment resistance. The body/mind doesn’t like having its nervous system repeatedly jacked around. And that is what switching psych drugs routinely does. It seems that people who have histories of going on and off and switching meds a lot have a higher incidence of serious issues when withdrawing.

Because there is a long history of the health and well-being of those labeled with psychiatric illness being neglected already, these happenings are very serious indeed.

Those labeled with mental illness already have a very hard time getting their health care needs met and are routinely disbelieved even when reporting serious health issues. People have died as a result of not being taken seriously when they have serious medical problems. I have sadly witnessed such ill-treatment when I was working in social services. I saw more than one client die as a result. See:  Health care professionals discriminate

The Somatic Symptom Disorder institutionalizes this dangerous habit so that even more harm might come from this systemic discrimination. The antidote is education. Pass it on.

Learn more:

This article has now been published on Mad in America. If you have experience dealing with the sort of discrimination talked about in this article, please consider leaving a comment there.

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters