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What are common misconceptions about functional symptoms and syndromes?

William B. Salt II., MD
Gastroenterology
Many doctors have difficulty understanding functional symptoms and explaining them to patients. Functional symptoms and syndromes are often considered to be related to stress, depression, anxiety or psychosomatic reactions. The term "functional" tends to carry a negative connotation, implying that somehow the symptoms are phoney, imagined or all in your head. These misconceptions only lead to greater frustration and confusion.

The diagnosis of functional syndromes is intended to reassure patients that the doctor understands their symptom experience and that there is no serious disease present. Unfortunately, many patients do not understand what is happening to them. How can they feel so ill when all of their medical tests are normal?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

Fast Facts on IBS: One in five people suffers from the frustrating symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). There is no simple answer--no pill, potion, or quick fix--that will cure IBS. But help...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.