Psychosomatic diseases in children & adolescents

Psychosomatic disorders can be very diverse in children and occur with varying frequency. In this article we explain what symptoms can occur and how children & adolescents can be supported in the recovery process.

What are psychosomatic diseases?

Psychosomatic illnesses are physical complaints or illnesses that are triggered or exacerbated by psychological stress, such as stress, anxiety or trauma. Physical symptoms may occur without an organic cause being found. Psychosomatic illnesses can take various forms, such as gastrointestinal complaints, skin disorders, sleep disorders or headaches. The effects of psychosomatic illness can be very distressing and impact the physical, psychological, and social health of the individual. Adequate treatment of psychosomatic illnesses is therefore important in order to achieve a sustained improvement in symptoms and an improvement in the quality of life.

What psychosomatic disorders can occur in children & adolescents?

Gastrointestinal complaints

In addition to psychological stress, physical causes such as an intolerance or infection can also lead to gastrointestinal symptoms. A thorough examination by a physician is therefore important to clarify the exact cause of the complaints and, if necessary, to plan appropriate treatment. Holistic therapy may include, for example, a change in diet, relaxation techniques and psychotherapeutic measures. It may also be useful to involve the family in therapy to reduce the child’s stress levels in the family context. In severe cases, inpatient treatment in a specialized clinic may also be necessary.

Skin diseases

The triggers of skin diseases in children can be very diverse and have physical causes in addition to psychological stress. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that often occurs in episodes and weakens the skin barrier. Therefore, an important part of the treatment is skin care to strengthen the skin barrier and reduce inflammation. Drug therapy with anti-inflammatory creams or ointments can also be used for acute episodes. In addition, relaxation exercises and psychotherapy can help to reduce the child’s stress level and thus also alleviate the symptoms of the skin disease. Targeted treatment of psychological distress is also important to reduce the risk of further relapses. In some cases, concomitant nutritional therapy may also be useful to reduce allergic reactions and inflammation.

Sleep disorders

Sleep disorders in children can be caused by various factors such as stress, anxiety, poor sleep hygiene, or physical complaints complaints such as pain. Symptoms may include difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, nighttime awakenings or nightmares, and may affect the child’s health and well-being. Holistic treatment that includes both psychological and medical measures can help identify and treat the causes of sleep disorders. Psychotherapeutic interventions such as behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, or mindfulness training can help address the psychological causes. In some cases, drug treatment may also be considered, but this should always be done under medical supervision.

Headache & Migraine

Headaches and migraines are common complaints in children and adolescents and can have various causes. Psychological stress such as stress and anxiety often play a role in psychosomatic headaches. Migraine can also be triggered by psychological factors. Holistic treatment that combines psychological interventions such as relaxation exercises and behavioral therapy with medication can help reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches. When treating children with headaches and migraines, it is also important to identify and avoid potential triggers such as certain foods or environmental factors.


Asthma and other respiratory diseases in children can occur not only due to stress and psychological strain, but can also be promoted by a family history or environmental factors such as air pollution or allergies. It is important to clarify the exact causes in order to enable an individual and effective therapy. Holistic treatment includes not only medical care but also psychological support to help cope with the disease and reduce stress. Relaxation exercises, breathing therapies or behavioral therapy can help. Regular monitoring of symptoms and appropriate medication are also important components of treatment.

Published on: 22.03.2023

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