The term psychosomatic disorder is mainly used to mean … “a physical disease that is thought to be caused, or made worse, by mental factors”.

Most of the diseases are psychosomatic, which involve both the mind and body. Every physical disease has some aspect of mental component, and how an individual reacts and copes with it varies significantly Psychosomatic disorder, condition in which psychological stresses adversely affect physiological (somatic) functioning to the point of distress. It is a condition of dysfunction or structural damage in bodily organs through inappropriate activation of the involuntary nervous system and the glands of internal secretion.

In a state of rage, for example, the angry person’s blood pressure is likely to be elevated and his pulse and respiratory rate to be increased. When the anger passes, the heightened physiologic processes usually subside. If the person has a persistent inhibited aggression (chronic rage), however, which he is unable to express overtly, the emotional state remains unchanged, though unexpressed in the overt behavior, and the physiological symptoms associated with the angry state persist. With time, such a person becomes aware of the physiological dysfunction. Very often he develops concern over the resulting physical signs and symptoms, but he denies or is unaware of the emotions that have evoked the symptoms.

“Psyche” and “Soma”
Psychosomatic disorders may affect almost any part of the body, though they are usually found in systems not under voluntary control. Emotional stress is assumed to aggravate existing illnesses, and there is some evidence that it may precipitate illnesses not usually considered to be psychosomatic (e.g., cancer, diabetes) in individuals predisposed to them.Psychosomatic disorders resulting from stress may include hypertension, respiratory ailments, gastrointestinal disturbances, migraine and tension headaches, pelvic pain, impotence, frigidity, dermatitis, and ulcers.

Which diseases are psychosomatic?
To an extent, most diseases are psychosomatic – involving both mind and body.
There is a mental aspect to every physical disease. How we react to disease and how we cope with disease vary greatly from person to person. For example, the rash of psoriasis may not bother some people very much. However, the rash covering the same parts of the body in someone else may make them feel depressed and more ill.

There can be physical effects from mental illness. For example, with some mental illnesses you may not eat, or take care of yourself, very well which can cause physical problems.

Some physical diseases are thought to be particularly prone to be made worse by mental factors such as stress and anxiety. For example, these include psoriasis, eczema, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure and heart disease. It is thought that the actual physical part of the illness (the extent of a rash, the level of the blood pressure, etc) can be affected by mental factors. However, many people with these and other physical diseases say that their current mental state can affect how bad their physical disease is at any given time.

How can the mind affect physical diseases?
It is well known that the mind can cause physical symptoms. For example, when we are afraid or anxious we may develop:

  • A fast heart rate.
  • A ‘thumping heart’ (palpitations).
  • Feeling sick (nauseated).
  • Shaking (tremor).
  • Sweating.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Chest pain.
  • Headaches.
  • A knot in the stomach.
  • Fast breathing.

These physical symptoms are due to increased activity of nervous impulses sent from the brain to various parts of the body and to the release of adrenaline (epinephrine) into the bloodstream when we are anxious.

What are the treatments for psychosomatic disorders?
Each disease has its own treatment options. For physical diseases, physical treatments such as medication or operations are usually the most important. However, healthcare workers and psycologysts will usually try to treat a person as a whole and take into account mental and social factors which may be contributing to a disease. Therefore, treatments to ease stress, anxiety, depression, etc, may help if they are thought to be contributing to your physical disease.

Discover more about the connection between mind and body, how psychotherapy can help you overcome a difficult period or childhood trauma, how to manage better your emotions and how to keep stress under control. Browse the information on the web site and send the contact form to PsihoHelp with your message or questions, either to make your appointment.

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