Somatic disease and psychological disorder

J Psychosom Res. 1997 Mar;42(3):261-73. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3999(96)00325-x.


The association between physical and psychological disorders has been demonstrated repeatedly. There are a number of explanations for this association, each of them pointing to specific diseases and operationalizations of mental distress. In this article, the relationship between various somatic diseases and a number of indices for psychological distress was investigated. Within one study population, patients with different somatic diseases were identified, and their experience with mental distress, their requests for help from their GP during consultations, and their GPs' diagnoses were registered and compared with the total study population: It appears that relationships could be demonstrated between experience of distress and presentation of psychological symptoms during consultations, on the one hand, and common physical disorders, on the other. Patients with neurological diseases (Parkinson's, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis) and gastric ulcers showed the same relationships, but were also more frequently diagnosed by the GP as having psychological disorders. Patients with a number of other serious somatic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and arthritis, did not distinguish themselves in a positive way on one of indices for psychological distress.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health
  • Chronic Disease / classification
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*