Somatoform disorders in children and adolescents: a comparison with other internalizing disorders

Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2002 Mar;14(1):23-31. doi: 10.1023/a:1015219910678.


A chart review of children and adolescents attending a university-based psychiatric outpatient clinic over a 1-year period was done. Nineteen consecutive patients with somatoform disorders were compared with 26 consecutive patients with other internalizing disorders, i.e., depressive disorders and/or anxiety disorders without disruptive behavior problems. Mean age, sex distribution, cognitive level, and duration of symptoms were not different between groups. Self- and parent-reported levels of psychopathology, including depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and deliberate self-harm, differentiated between somatoform disorders and other internalizing disorders at the group level. Levels of adaptive functioning and functional somatic symptoms did not. High levels of medically unexplained symptoms should prompt the clinician for assessing depressive symptoms and anxiety. Findings also support the use of DSM-IV criteria in pediatric patients to differentiate somatoform disorders from other internalizing disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mood Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychopathology
  • Sampling Studies
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires