Somatic Symptom and Related Disorder

Also known as: somatization disorder, SSD’s, conversion disorders, psychosomatic disorders, functional disorders, psychological factors affecting medical conditions and others.

What are somatic symptom and related disorder?

SSD is a group of common conditions, occurring in all cultures, where children/adolescents have physical symptoms worse than those usually associated with any existing medical condition or where no clear medical problem exists. Symptoms, and the thoughts and behaviors associated with them are sufficiently severe and distressing to interfere with a child’s/adolescents’ ability to have a normal life. Many children suffer from chronic anxiety about having a serious illness based on their physical symptoms.
 

Several conditions are related to SSD’s by having physical symptoms as a significant part of their clinical picture. They include: illness anxiety disorder (previously called hypochondriasis), conversion disorder (also called functional neurological symptom disorder), other specific somatic symptom and related disorders (these may have a specific diagnosis like pseudocyesis where a woman has all the signs of pregnancy but is not pregnant).
 

What causes somatic symptom and related disorder? 

The exact cause of somatic symptom and related disorder isn’t clear but genetic, family influences, personality trait, problems with processing emotions or a learned behavior, may singly or together, play a role. Risk factors include stressful life events, adversity, some disorders like depression or severe anxiety, or having had past emotional/sexual trauma in childhood.
 

What are the symptoms of somatic symptom and related disorder?

Children/adolescents feel normal physical reactions (like a headache) or exaggerate a mild disease symptom and feel that they are part of a severe life threatening illness. Symptoms vary based on what part of the body is focused upon. Symptoms can include pain (most common), headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, reduced sexual desire and a wide variety of other symptoms.  
 

What are somatic symptom and related disorder care options? 

Somatic symptom and related disorder can often be difficult to treat unless clearly identified. Usual treatments may include psychotherapy with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, family therapy and in some cases medications.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 6/21/2019 2:23:06 AM

Weekly Support Programs

​F.O.C.U.S. Program

8 week program. This group therapy program is designed for children ages 7 to 17 with behaviorial issues, including but not limited to ADHD. The weekly sessions teach innovative techniques to assist children with managing feelings, developing organization skills, maximizing their concentration abilities and socialization skills. Learn more.

Camp DMC

Camp DMC is a summer program for children with special needs run by Nicklaus Children’s Dan Marino Outpatient Center. Please note: We will not offer Camp DMC during summer of 2019. Learn more.

Social Skills Group

8 week program. Children and teens ages 7 to 17 are invited to join this small discussion group to learn how to make, cultivate and maintain friendships. Participants will learn basic conversational skills, and discuss the use of appropriate humor, how to electronically connect with others, and how to manage disagreements. Learn more.

Calm Kids

8 week program. Calm Kids is a weekly group therapy course designed to teach children strategies on how to take control over anxiety symptoms. Children will learn how to cope with fears and worries, identify anxiety triggers, how to relax the mind and body and maximize their self-confidence. Learn more.

Pain Management Group

8 week program. This program is specifically designed to empower children ages 7-18 through complex sensory experiences. Each session is created to teach participants evidenced-based techniques to better manage pain and improve overall quality of life. Learn more.

Teen Sleep Group

8 week program. This program is designed for teens ages 13-16 experiencing difficulties related to sleep, including daytime sleepiness, trouble waking in the morning, difficulty falling asleep and waking in the middle of the night. The goal of this group is to give teens the tools and strategies they need in order to get more sleep and better quality sleep. Learn more.