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What is somatic symptom disorder?

There are many different types of illnesses that qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Mental disorders, such as anxiety, also often qualify you for benefits.

One specific disorder you may hear about is somatic symptom disorder. According to Medline Plus, somatic symptom disorder is a type of extreme anxiety.


The symptoms of somatic symptom disorder are similar to general anxiety except they are exaggerated. You will feel very much out of control and as if everything has the potential to be deadly. The intensity of your thoughts can overwhelm you to the point where you cannot function in your daily life. It also often has symptoms typical of hypochondria where you feel every medical issue is serious and severe or mistake minor things for a serious medical issue.


Treatment can be incredibly difficult. The goal is to reduce your symptoms enough that you can function somewhat normally. It may also be difficult to get a diagnosis because you likely will have nothing physically wrong with you.

Treatment will usually take place under only one provider to help minimize your feelings of doubt about medical care. You will need regular visits to talk about your symptoms. You also may work with a therapist who can help you to find ways to cope and overcome your symptoms.

Even with treatment somatic symptom disorder can be debilitating. If you can get a diagnosis, this chronic condition may allow you to meet the requirements for Social Security Disability benefits because it is a long-term condition that can impact your ability to work and earn a living. However, the first step is getting a diagnosis and working on a treatment plan.