Psychosomatic problems – definitions. Psyche is Latin for mind and soma for body. A psychosomatic problem is a disease which involves both mind and body. It can be said of all diseases have a physical elements and psychological ones in some way.
But, a psychosomatic disorder is thought of as a physical disease which is caused or made worse by mental factors.
To some people psychosomatic problems are thought to be “all in the mind”. This would suggest that the person with the problem could get better by not thinking about the issue.
In most cases it is much more complicated than that. We know that psychological issues can lead to a wide range of symptoms that can include pain, digestive disorders, skin problems, headaches and many more.
These problems are all very real, even when they are “all in the mind”. Some conditions that have a real underlying physical cause can be made much worse by stress and anxiety. E.g. the pain of arthritis tends to get worse if the person is also depressed or anxious.
Psychosomatic symptoms can often mimic symptoms that are also associated with serious health problems. A good example is chest pain; it could indicate heart disease, indigestion or could result from a psychosomatic issue.
How can the mind cause psychosomatic problems?
It is well known that the mind can cause physical symptoms. However, the exact way that the mind can cause certain other symptoms is not clear. E.g., when we are afraid or anxious we can get a fast heart rate, palpitations, feeling sick, shaking, sweating, dry mouth, chest pain, headaches, a knot in the stomach, and fast breathing.
These are all physical symptoms due to increased activity of nervous impulses sent from the brain to various parts of the body. Also the release of adrenaline into the bloodstream.
But how the mind can affect actual physical illnesses (rashes, blood pressure, etc) is not clear. Some research suggests it could be to do with nervous impulses going to the body. Or that the brain may affect certain cells of the immune system, which is involved in various physical illnesses.
I believe that all healing begins with relaxation and with the additional use of appropriate hypnotic suggestion many psychosomatic problems can be eased and often removed.
Psychosomatic illnesses can be classified in three general forms
The first form includes those who experience both a mental illness and a medical one; these illnesses complicate the symptoms and management of each other.
The second form includes those who experience a psychiatric issue that is a direct result of a medical illness or its treatment; having depression due to
cancer and its treatment for example.
The third form of psychosomatic illness is, ‘somatoform,’ disorders. Somatoform disorders are psychiatric ones that are displayed through physical issues. What this means is the physical symptoms people experience are related to psychological factors instead of a medical cause.
Somatoform disorders may include the following:
Somatisation Disorder: A disorder in which a person experiences physical complaints such as diarrhoea, headaches, premature ejaculation, or ones that do not have a physical cause.
Conversion Disorder: A disorder in which a person experiences neurological symptoms affecting their movement and senses which do not seem to have a physical cause. Symptoms may include blindness, seizures, or paralysis.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder: An obsession or preoccupation with an imaginary or minor flaw such as wrinkles, small breasts, or the size or shape of another part of the person’s body. Body dysmorphic disorder causes severe anxiety and might impact a person’s ability to function as usual in their daily life.
Hypochondriasis: A fixation or obsession with the fear of having a serious form of disease. People with hypochondriasis misconstrue usual body functions or minor symptoms as being serious or even life-threatening. E.g. someone with hypochondriasis might become convinced that they have colon cancer when experiencing temporary flatulence after consuming cabbage.
There are some people with severe cases of the above, especially Hypochondriasis that they cannot or reach the state in which to make changes.