Cenesthopathy in adolescence: An appraisal of diagnostic overlaps along the anxiety-hypochondriasis-psychosis spectrum

Andor E. Simon*, Stefan Borgwardt, Undine E. Lang, Binia Roth

*Corresponding author for this work
5 Citations (Scopus)


Objective To discuss the diagnostic validity of unusual bodily perceptions along the spectrum from age-specific, often transitory and normal, to pathological phenomena in adolescence to hypochondriasis and finally to psychosis. Methods Critical literature review of the cornerstone diagnostic groups along the spectrum embracing anxiety and cenesthopathy in adolescence, hypochondriasis, and cenesthopathy and psychosis, followed by a discussion of the diagnostic overlaps along this spectrum. Results The review highlights significant overlaps between the diagnostic cornerstones. It is apparent that adolescents with unusual bodily perceptions may conceptually qualify for more than one diagnostic group along the spectrum. To determine whether cenesthopathies in adolescence mirror emerging psychosis, a number of issues need to be considered, i.e. age and mode of onset, gender, level of functioning and drug use. The role of overvalued ideas at the border between hypochondriasis and psychosis must be considered. Conclusion As unusual bodily symptoms may in some instances meet formal psychosis risk criteria, a narrow understanding of these symptoms may lead to both inappropriate application of the new DSM-5 attenuated psychosis syndrome and of treatment selection. On the other hand, the possibility of a psychotic dimension of unusual bodily symptoms in adolescents must always be considered as most severe expression of the cenesthopathy spectrum.

Original languageEnglish
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1122-1129
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 07.2014


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