This is a thought-provoking article by Charles Todd. He states that “The term ‘Medically Unexplained Symptoms’ is widely used as an overarching dustbin category; its adoption represents a hubristic extension of the biomedical model.”
Our own ‘Patient Voice’ research1 shows that “In this sample [158 cases] 25% of patients with antidepressant withdrawal presenting to their GP were diagnosed with ‘medically unexplained symptoms’ [MUS], a ‘functional neurological disorder’ [FND] or ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’. Many of the signs and symptoms associated with these medically unexplained disorders, captured in the often-used PHQ-15, overlap with the symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal, including insomnia, feeling tired, nausea, indigestion, racing heart, dizziness, headaches and back pain”.
The RCGP ‘Top Ten Tips’ for GPs states: “No 3. MUS account for up to 20% of GP consultations. 25% persist in primary care for over 12 months”.2 The RCPsych estimate “About I in 4 people who see their GP have such symptoms” and “In a neurological outpatient setting, it is 1 in 3 patients or more”…“Another common term is ‘functional’ – the symptoms are due to a problem in the way the body is functioning, even though the structure of the body is normal”.3