Idiopathic environmental intolerances (formerly multiple chemical sensitivity) psychiatric perspectives
Idiopathic environmental intolerances (IEI)/multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is characterized by various somatic symptoms which cannot be explained organically, but are attributed to the influences of toxic environmental chemicals in low, usually harmless doses. In the absence of a widely accepted definition of IEI, contradictory aetiological hypotheses and therapeutic suggestions are discussed. Some authors doubt the existence of IEI/MCS as a disease entity of its own. The label IEI does not implicate neither a diagnosis of somatic disease nor that it is caused by an avoidable exposure. Many IEI patients suffer from psychiatric diseases. A majority of them can be diagnosed as somatoform disorders. Consequently, psychiatric therapies could be effective. This review describes the current knowledge about IEI/MCS, outlines a diagnostic algorithm and a psychotherapeutic concept for variants of IEI understood as a somatoform disorder.
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