Somatic symptom disorder, a new DSM-5 diagnosis of an old clinical challenge
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Somatic symptom disorder (SSD) is characterised by a dysfunctional preoccupation with one or more physical symptoms. Patients with SSD often pursue excessive and unnecessary investigations, hospitalisations and treatments that significantly affect quality of life and drain healthcare resources. Thus, appropriate diagnosis and careful management are required to mitigate the patient's distress and to reduce the burden to the healthcare system. SSD is a new disorder defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Fifth Edition (DSM-5), replacing somatoform and related disorders in the DSM-4-Text Revision with diagnostic criteria that are inclusive of a broad array of presentations. This report presents a detailed clinical case of an elderly man with a history of frequent hospital visits presenting with SSD. We discuss diagnostic challenges and evidence-based management in acute inpatient as well as in outpatient settings. We also review data on healthcare utilisation associated with SSD.
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