ONSET AND CLINICAL COURSE
Clients with somatization disorder and body dysmorphic disorder often experience symptoms in adolescence, although these diagnoses may not be made until early adult-hood (about 25 years of age). Conversion disorder usually occurs between 10 and 35 years of age. Pain disorder and hypochondriasis can occur at any age (APA, 2000).
All the somatoform disorders are either chronic or recurrent, lasting for decades for many people. Clients with somatization disorder and conversion disorder most likely seek help from mental health professionals after they have exhausted efforts at finding a diagnosed medical condition. Clients with hypochondriasis, pain disorder, and body dysmorphic disorder are unlikely to receive treatment in mental health settings unless they have a comorbid condition. Clients with somatoform disorders tend to go from one physician or clinic to another, or they may see multiple providers at once in an effort to obtain relief of symptoms. They tend to be pessimistic about the medical establishment and often believe their disease could be diagnosed if providers were more competent.