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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: December 2009

7 - Functional somatic syndromes

from Part II - Common psychiatric problems across the general hospital

Summary

The functional somatic syndromes (FSS) refer to a number of related syndromes that have been characterized by the reporting of somatic symptoms and resultant disability rather than on the evidence of underlying conventional disease processes. Chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia have been more extensively researched than most other FSS which has led to specific pathophysiological mechanisms being advanced for each. There is limited data on the predisposing and precipitating factors in FSS. A history of childhood abuse is more common in those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia. Cognitive behavioural therapy and exercise therapy appear to lead to therapeutic change by tackling biological and psychosocial factors, whilst centrally acting drugs such as antidepressants can sometimes be helpful. For many of the less well recognized FSS, operationalized diagnostic criteria are lacking, as are high quality treatment trials.

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