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Medically unexplained symptoms

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

Common physical symptoms often have psychiatric causes. They are common in general population and are a frequent reason for practitioner referral. They are significant in that they are an important cause of disability and account for the use of a lot of resources.

It is important to understand that bodily perceptions are subject to interpretation which then results in symptoms. Misinterpretation can be caused by awareness of disease, illness experience, emotional arousal, predisposition, acute and chronic stress.

Problems include:

  • how much investigation
  • showing acceptance of reality of symptoms
  • providing an explanation
  • making psychological explanation acceptable

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