Somatization in response to undiagnosed obsessive compulsive disorder in a family

BMC Fam Pract. 2003 Feb 20;4:1. doi: 10.1186/1471-2296-4-1. Epub 2003 Feb 20.


Background: Somatization is a common problem in primary care and often presents puzzling problems for the family physician. A family or contextual approach is often useful in investigating and treating refractory symptoms.

Case presentation: A 63 year-old patient presented to his family physician with recurrent episodes of syncope, weakness and various other somatic symptoms. Lengthy clinical investigations found no organic pathological findings but a brief family assessment by the family physician revealed that the patient's wife was the "hidden" patient. Successful treatment of the patient's wife led to full recovery for both.

Conclusions: Exploration and treatment of the family context may often hold the key to the solution of difficult problems in somatizing patients.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / therapeutic use
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Family Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology*
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology*
  • Spouses / psychology*


  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic