Somatoform symptoms in depressive and panic syndromes

Abstract

Somatoform symptoms are common features of psychological and psychosomatic disorders. This study addresses the question of whether somatoform symptoms differ in patients with panic syndromes, with depressive syndromes, or with somatization syndromes without depression or panic syndromes. We therefore investigated 135 inpatients of a psychosomatic clinic and identified 64 patients for the depression group, 31 for the panic subgroup, and 18 for the somatization syndrome group. Neither the number of somatization symptoms nor the pattern of somatoform symptoms differed substantially among the 3 groups, except for higher frequencies of palpitations in the panic group and more abdominal pain symptoms in the depressive group. The 3 groups showed nearly identical frequency distributions of the individual somatoform symptoms. All 3 groups showed elevated hypochondriasis scores. In personality dimensions, depressive patients showed the lowest scores for extraversion. The improvements during inpatient treatment on the somatization variables, as well as general psychopathology, were also comparable. We favor the interpretation that the somatization syndrome is a fairly uniform syndrome whether or not it occurs alone or in combination with depressive syndromes or panic syndromes.

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Correspondence to Winfried Rief or Wolfgang Hiller or Manfred M. Fichter.

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Rief, W., Hiller, W. & Fichter, M.M. Somatoform symptoms in depressive and panic syndromes. Int. J. Behav. Med. 2, 51–65 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327558ijbm0201_5

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Key words

  • somatoform disorders
  • somatization disorder
  • panic disorder
  • affective disorder
  • abridged somatization disorder
  • hypochondriasis