Classification and terminology

This group of conditions includes somatoform disorders, hypochondriasis, factitious disorders, malingering, and so-called 'functional' disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome. They are grouped together here partly for convenience; they may not be all related to each other, and the status of some fairly recently introduced concepts, such as somatoform disorders, is controversial. Others, such as Munchausen's syndrome by proxy, have attracted intense media interest, and may not best be seen as mental disorders.

Terminology for these disorders is complex, and varies substantially between ICD and DSM. In the ICD, most are listed in the chapter Neurotic, stress-related and somatoform disorders (codes F40-F48). However, this is widely seen as something of a 'ragbag', containing a variety of conditions which had to be put somewhere, but which, as previously indicated, may not fundamentally have much in common.

The following summary is based on UK clinical practice. The syndromes may be primary, or secondary to another mental disorder, in which case diagnosis and management would be guided by that of the underlying condition.

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