Childrens Health: What Is Somtic Stress Disorder? Know Symptoms, Causes And Treatment Of This Condition Among Kids


Children’s well-being is a paramount concern for parents, caregivers, and society at large. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of somatic stress disorders affecting children. Somatic stress disorders involve physical symptoms that manifest in response to psychological distress. While commonly associated with adults, these disorders are increasingly observed in the pediatric population, raising concerns about the impact on children’s overall health.

Experts emphasize the role of a supportive environment, open communication, and early intervention in managing somatic stress disorders among children. Moreover, understanding the root causes, which can range from academic pressure to family dynamics, is crucial for effective prevention and intervention strategies.

According to Dr Sushma Gopalan, Child Psychologist – Child Life Specialist, Pediatrics & Neonatology, Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore, “Post-pandemic, heightened screen time in children has resulted in increased anxiety and suppressed emotions, this condition causes physical distress, and it can affect any part of your child’s body such as the head, chest, arms, and joints. These symptoms are biological and aren’t voluntary or “fake.” “

Some of the concerning causes, symptoms and treatment of SSD as shared by Dr Sushma can be: 

Symptoms of Somatic Stress Disorder in Kids

Unexplained Physical Pain: Frequent complaints of stomachaches or headaches without clear medical cause.

Sleep Disturbances: Disrupted sleep patterns or insomnia due to emotional distress.

Nutritional Changes: Altered eating habits, either excessive or insufficient, linked to emotional struggles.

Hydration Fluctuations: Inconsistent fluid intake associated with emotional stress.

Anxiety and Stress: Experiencing excessive worry, fear, or tension contributing to physical symptoms.

Causes of Somtic Stress Disorder in Children

– Major changes like divorce, family conflict, bullying, or academic pressure can overwhelm children, manifesting in physical complaints.

– Children who struggle to verbalize their feelings may unconsciously express them through bodily symptoms like stomach aches or headaches.

– Some children are naturally more aware of their physical sensations, and stress can amplify these perceptions, leading to perceived illness.

– Anxiety, depression, or trauma can co-occur with SSD, further complicating the picture.

– Excessive use of screen time in children can lead them to bottle up their emotions and isolate themselves from everyone

Treatment for Somtic Stress Disorder

– Establish age-appropriate screen time limits to promote real-world engagement.

– Encourage the child to regularly exercise to alleviate stress and enhance overall well-being.

– Foster an environment where children feel comfortable expressing emotions.

– Provide access to counselling or therapy to address underlying emotional distress.

– Establish consistent sleep routines for better emotional regulation.

– Ensure a balanced diet to support overall physical and mental health.

– Parents should stay involved in a child’s life, offering support and understanding.



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