Experiencing a severe trauma or being prolonged or repeatedly exposed to traumatic events can cause somatic symptoms in children and adolescents, for which no physical causes can be found. The symptoms can affect very different organs or parts of the body and occur more frequently when having intrusive memories or reminders of what they went through.
- Often, children and adolescents report quick beating of the heart, tightness or a feeling of pressure or sharp pain in the chest. In addition, increased sweating can occur.
- Many children and adolescents experience nausea and/or stomachache.
- Sometimes children and adolescents report lasting or recurrent pain, e.g. headaches or back pain.
Other somatic symptoms
- Some children and adolescents start to shake, experience dizziness or shortness of breath.
- Try to find out if there are physical reasons for the pain. If not, comfort your child and explain to them that sometimes people feel pain because they have to think about a what happened to them. That doesn’t mean that they’re ill. This kind of pain will disappear without medicine.
- Distract your child with pleasant things, encourage them to play or to do other activities that they like.
- Don’t pay too much attention to the physical symptoms. Tell your child that you will play with them, as soon as they feel better.
- In case of stomachache, you can make your child a warm compress, or in case of headache you can put a cold flannel on your child’s head.
- Use all the strategies that were helpful before the traumatic event.