Somatic symptoms in consultation-liaison psychiatry

Department of Psychiatry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research , Chandigarh 160012 , India.
International Review of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 1.8). 02/2013; 25(1):52-64. DOI: 10.3109/09540261.2012.727786
Source: PubMed


Abstract In medically ill patients the term 'somatic symptoms' is used to understand those symptoms which cannot be fully understood in the light of existing medical illness(es). These include a number of physical symptoms and also certain clinical syndromes such as irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome among others. However, it is increasingly recognized that such patients have larger degrees of psychological morbidities, especially depressive and anxiety disorders, and have disproportionately elevated rates of medical care utilization, including outpatient visits, hospitalizations and total healthcare costs. In view of this psychological morbidity, significant distress and functional impairment, the role of the consultation-liaison psychiatrist is prominent in the management of these patients. A consultation-liaison (CL) psychiatrist is expected to be part of the primary care team to manage patient with unexplained SS, and at the same time is expected to guide colleagues to practice a patient-centred approach to improve the outcome of patients with such symptoms. The clinical work of a CL psychiatrist involves evaluation of patients with medically unexplained symptoms for probable psychiatric disorders and treatment of psychiatric morbidity and also management of patients without psychiatric morbidity. Management strategies include reattribution, cognitive behaviour therapy and antidepressants, with each strategy showing varying degrees of success.

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