When you break the term psychosomatic down to its component parts, it literally refers to something that is both of the mind (psyche) and the body (soma). So when psychosomatic is used to describe a particular condition, it means that the individual will be affected by both physical and mental factors. In fact, when taking a holistic view of health, it can be said that the vast majority of ‘dis-eases’ have psychosomatic symptoms. What this means is when it comes to the treatment and ongoing care of someone, consideration needs to be given to the factors that may contribute to the worsening of other that person’s condition as a whole.
To give a more rounded summary of what a psychosomatic illness is, it can be thought of as “a physical disease that is thought to be caused, made worse by mental factors.” And this tends to occur on a sliding scale of severity, as some diseases are much more susceptible to the presence of mental issues such as anxiety or stress. Some of the more notable physical complaints this applies to are psoriasis, eczema, stomach ulcers, higher blood pressure and heart disease. Although it has been difficult for researchers to prove this link definitively, many people have reported there is a noticeable difference in their condition(s) depending on the state of their mental health.
Here is a list of some of the more common physical symptoms that can arise from a state of poor mental health:
Higher heart rate
Shortness of breath
The trouble in identifying these symptoms as psychosomatic is they can also relate to your physical health. So that means becoming aware of how and when these symptoms arise and using your discernment is vital. This phenomenon is called somatisation, which in short refers to the “tendency to experience psychological distress in the form of physical symptoms.”
Once you’ve become aware of what you’re experiencing is, in fact, a psychosomatic illness, the process is no different than addressing any other issue. You focus your attention on the root cause and by doing so alleviate yourself of the resulting physical symptoms. But it’s important that you understand, just because these physical symptoms are the result of your mental health, do not interpret them as phantom pains that can do you no harm. Stress is one of the leading causes of heart attacks worldwide, so you must take these signs seriously.
Aside from seeking help from both your doctor and/or psychologist, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to develop a routine of self-care. This includes everything from your diet, to exercise, work/life balance, and how you react/respond when you experience triggering situations.
About the author:
Dr Becky Spelman is a leading UK Psychologist who’s had great success helping her clients manage and overcome a multitude of mental illnesses.
***If you’re struggling with a psychosomatic illness and would benefit from speaking to someone about your situation, we offer a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with one of our specialists to help you find the best way to move forward. You can book yours here.
Medical dramas on TV often like to portray Psychiatrists as the first port of call if you're feeling down, or experiencing emotional difficulties. And although there is much good that can come from seeing a Psychiatrist, it isn't always the best avenue to explore. There are many types of mental heal.....
People sometimes struggle to accept that mental health issues are worthy of treatment in their own right. Unfortunately, while a lot of work has been done to destigmatise mental health issues, some people still feel ashamed or embarrassed if they need support in this area......
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a mental condition that is characterised by an obsession with one or more perceived flaws of one's physical appearance. It has recently been classified within the DSM-5 obsessive-compulsive and related disorders category. However, while it does share many common tra.....