Somatic symptom and related disorders are equally common among young boys and young girls but are more common among adolescent girls than adolescent boys. Children with one of these disorders may have a number of symptoms, including pain, difficulty breathing, and weakness. Children may or may not have another disorder. Often children develop physical symptoms when another family member is seriously ill. Sometimes the symptoms are normal body sensations or discomfort that are misinterpreted. These physical symptoms are thought to develop unconsciously in response to a psychologic stress or problem see Mind and Body.
The symptoms are not consciously fabricated, and children are actually experiencing the symptoms they describe.
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Doctors ask children about their symptoms and do a physical examination and sometimes tests to make sure that children do not have a physical disorder that could account for the symptoms. However, extensive laboratory tests are generally avoided because they may further convince children that a physical problem exists and unnecessary diagnostic tests may themselves traumatize children.
If no physical problem can be identified, doctors may use standardized mental health tests to help determine whether symptoms are due to a somatic symptom or related disorder. Doctors also talk to the children and family members to try to identify underlying psychologic problems or troubled family relationships. Children may balk at the idea of visiting a psychotherapist because they think their symptoms are purely physical.
However, individual and family psychotherapy, often using cognitive-behavioral techniques, can help children and family members recognize patterns of thought and behavior that perpetuate the symptoms. Therapists may use hypnosis, biofeedback, and relaxation therapy.
Psychosomatic Symptoms | Psychology Today
Psychotherapy is usually combined with a rehabilitation program that aims to help children get back into a normal routine. It can include physical therapy, which has the following benefits:. It may treat actual physical effects, such as reduced mobility or loss of muscle, caused by a somatic symptom or related disorder. Having a primary care doctor who supports them, sees them regularly, and coordinates all their care is also important. Drugs, such as a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors SSRIs , may be used to relieve pain or the anxiety or depression that can accompany these disorders.
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Somatization and Psychosomatic Symptoms
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Subcription rates. A psychosomatic syndrome is defined as a syndrome in which psychological processes play a substantial role in the etiology of the illness in some of the patients.
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The main conclusions on the extent of the biological and psychosocial contributions to several psychosomatic syndromes are presented and the relationship of these syndromes to somatization and somatoform disorders is discussed. The syndromes summarized include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, motility disorders of the esophagus, nonulcer dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome, urethral syndrome, behaviors causing disturbances of physiology, and some defined pain syndromes.
The findings suggest that the extent of the biological and psychosocial contributions vary among these syndromes as well as among individuals with the same syndrome. In some syndromes the extent and nature of the biological contribution has not been established with certainty. There is evidence to suggest that many of the phenomena of the somatoform disorders are caused by clustering of psychosomatic syndromes or their incomplete or atypical manifestations and a low sensation threshold.
The results of the controlled studies of various methods of psychotherapy and drug treatments of the psychosomatic syndromes are listed; these studies have practical implications because the adoption of these methods is likely to enhance the efficacy of the treatment of somatoform disorders.