Somatosensory amplification (SA) is a tendency to perceive normal somatic and visceral sensations as being relatively intense, disturbing and noxious. It is a common feature of hypochondriasis and is commonly found with fibromyalgia, major depressive disorder, some anxiety disorders, Asperger syndrome, and alexithymia. One common clinical measure of SA is the Somatosensory Amplification Scale (SSAS).
It is unclear whether persons with SA have a truly increased physiological sensitivity to bodily sensations. One study paradoxically found lower levels of SA in hypochondriacs who reported being constantly aware of their own heartbeats. Tentative electroencephalography results, however, tend to indicate SA is more likely due to differences in long-latency cognitive processing, rather than objective physiological differences in sensitivity.
It is not currently known whether SA causes or is caused by any of these conditions, only that they are comorbid conditions. One small study did find that, in patients with depression, SA may be part of the depression (i.e., treating the depression reduced the SA).
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