Children react differently to stress, depending on individual personal characteristics, such as their appraisal of the event and their coping strategies. Certain children have more difficulty than others in expressing their emotions directly, due to their individual temperament, the emotional climate of the family, and cultural customs. The most common triggers of Somatoform Disorders are psychosocial stressors, trauma (physical or sexual abuse) or family conflict. Although there are a number of hypotheses regarding the genesis of Somatoform Disorders, the exact causes are as yet unknown.
- Psychosocial theory views the symptoms as social communication to express emotions or to symbolize feelings.
- A psychoanalytic interpretation views symptoms as repressed instinctual impulses.
- Biological studies suggest the individual may have a faulty perception and assessment of sensory inputs.
- Genetic data suggest that somatoform disorders tend to run in families with an occurrence of 10 - 20% in first degree female relatives. Other evidence shows that anxiety and depression are more common in the families of somatizing children.