Somatic Symptom Disorder: What to Look For

Kids with somatic symptom disorder misinterpret the mild aches, pains and other symptoms associated with daily living as indications that they have a serious illness—a headache might mean a brain tumor, or a bruised knee might “guarantee” hemophilia. They may fear that physical activity will damage their bodies. Some children will resist going to see the doctor, either because they are afraid of receiving confirmation or because they believe their illness is already a hopeless case. Others will frequently visit the doctor and the nurse’s office at school, and may even engage in “doctor shopping” when their physician won’t diagnose their feared illness. These kids may have unnecessary medical procedures, spend time researching diseases on the Internet, and constantly seek reassurance from their parents. Children with the disorder are not faking their fear. Somatic symptom disorder causes acute anxiety, and interferes with a child’s performance in school, as well as  with relationships with family and friends.