Somatic Symptom Disorder: What Is It?

Children with somatic symptom disorder worry a great deal about having an illness. They are not plagued by imaginary symptoms, but by the intense worry generated by actual physical symptoms that are usually mild and inconsequential but have been misinterpreted by the child. The headaches, stomach aches, rashes, fatigue and nausea experienced in everyday life prompt them to spend disproportionate time and energy worrying about the possibility that they have a serious, life-threatening illness.

Sometimes a child who has a concurrent medical illness is diagnosed with somatic symptom disorder as well, when her fears and preoccupation with the illness causes more impairment than would be expected from the physical illness alone.