Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine
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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 33  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 163-166

Children with medically unexplained pain symptoms: Categorization and effective management

Department of Psychiatry, Smt. Kashibai Navale Medical College and General Hospital, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Sharmishtha S Deshpande
Department of Psychiatry, Smt. Kashibai Navale Medical College and General Hospital, Off Pune-Mumbai Bypass Narhe (Ambegaon), Pune - 411 041, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0253-7176.92065

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Context: Medically unexplained pain symptoms are common in children, and their incidence is on the rise. There is often a lack of clearly articulated pathophysiology in these patients. There is need to improve understanding about varied causes and presentations of these patients which would generate further insight in management of these patients. Documentation and detailed assessment of such children in Indian setting is not seen in literature. Materials and Methods: A series of 17 cases, 10 boys and 7 girls referred from pediatrics department is discussed, so as to categorize them in three different subgroups for management. Result and Discussion: Although there were often no overt anxiety or depressive features, some psychosocial stress which was mostly unnoticed by the child, the parents and the doctor, preceded such a pain. It was often an academic stress, familial separation or parental psychiatric illness. They were at times not able to verbalize their distress, which was revealed with the help of Children's Apperception Test (C.A.T.). They mainly had anxieties about loss of love or disapproval by parents and also fear of harm or injury. They used defence mechanisms like denial, reaction formation and repression, which were ineffective in handling the overwhelming anxiety. Most of these children had either above average or borderline intelligence. Somatic expression of emotional needs and fears in these children was managed effectively by supportive therapy and antidepressant drugs.

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