Petra Sackl-Pammer and Zeliha Özlü-Erkilic have equally contributed to this paper.
Associations of social anxiety disorder (SAD) with various somatic symptoms have been already reported in the literature several times. The present study investigated somatic complaints in children and adolescents with SAD compared to controls and evaluated the relationship between social anxiety and somatic symptom severity.
Thirty children and adolescents with SAD were compared with 36 healthy age-matched controls. Self-reported fears were assessed using the Phobiefragebogen für Kinder und Jugendliche (PHOKI); emotional and behavioral problems were assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL/4-18); and the Gießener Beschwerdebogen für Kinder und Jugendliche (GBB-KJ) was used to assess 59 somatic symptoms.
Parents and youth with SAD reported higher somatic symptom severity compared to controls. Youth with SAD more frequently reported stomach pain, circulatory complaints, and fatigue than controls. Specific group differences between SAD and control youth were found for the following single somatic symptoms: faintness, quickly exhausted, sensation of heat, stomachache, nausea, dizziness, and sudden heart complaints. Parents of girls with SAD reported higher somatic symptom severity than parents of boys with SAD.
The results demonstrated a significant positive association between somatic symptoms and social anxiety in youth. The results of the present study can help to develop improved screening measurements, which increase the proportion of children and adolescents with SAD receiving proper treatment.