Aim: We conducted a study to investigate whether patients with somatization disorder show abnormal values in autonomic testing, especially in the central baroreceptor sensitivity.
Patients and methods: Seventy-one patients were included. All had a diagnosis of somatization disorder (ICD-10, F45.0). Psychometric testing was performed by means of validated questionnaires (STAI, STAXI, FPI, GBB, ADS, SOMS, SCL-90-R). Autonomic regulation was analyzed by international standards using frequency spectral calculation by fast Fourier transformation. Thereby 3 different groups were detected: 12 patients with a baroreceptor sensitivity (BRS) of less than 3.0 ms/mm Hg, 20 patients with normal BRS (> 9.0 ms/mm Hg), and an in-between group (n = 39) with intermediate BRS. Controlling for age, a covariance analysis was calculated.
Results: The two extreme groups showed no difference in psychometric testing. However, significant differences were discernible in spectral values of mid-frequency-band (p < 0.05) in a covariance analysis with age as covariate. Equally the 24 h blood pressure determination showed significantly higher values for the group with BRS < 3.0 ms/mm Hg (p < 0.05 to 0.001).
Conclusions: In a high percentage (17 %) of patients diagnosed to have somatization disorder autonomic dysregulation becomes apparent and is accompanied by increased blood pressure. Therefore it doesn't seem accurate to overlook concomitant organic lesions in somatization disorders despite patients lacking overtly clinical signs but suffering from various unspecific symptoms.