Pain is the body’s way of complaining and warns us of potential health issues. Yet, like all communication, pain can be misconstrued and misunderstood. Is it possible that physical conditions can be made worse by the mind?
There are many types of psychosomatic disorders that say, yes. Are you suffering from a diminished quality of life due to chronic pain? Is it possible that your mental health could be partially to blame for your pain? Keep reading to find out.
Types of Psychosomatic Disorders
Recently in 2016, the CDC released the results of a study that estimated 20.4% of adult Americans suffer from chronic pain. Although physical injuries and disease play a major role in chronic pain, overwhelming evidence supports that mental health may directly impact the degree to which pain affects our lives.
The medical term is “psychosomatic disorder.” Simply put, psychosomatic means of the mind (psyche) and body (soma). It wouldn’t be unfair to say that all medical conditions are, to some degree, psychosomatic. However, certain diseases are thought to be particularly influenced by mental factors including:
- High blood pressure
- Stomach ulcers
- Heart disease
Physicians are increasingly aware of the importance of mental health on the treatment and recovery of their patients. It is far more common for physicians to recommend their patients to mental health professionals as part of their overall treatment plan. So, what should we be looking for to realize we are suffering from a psychosomatic disorder?
Psychosomatic Disorder Symptoms
It is important to realize that the idea that physical symptoms caused by mental illness are “all in the head” or “imagined” is not supported by science. The physical symptoms of psychosomatic pain disorder are all too real and need to be treated to heal the patient. Signs of mental illness manifest in the body with symptoms like:
- Sleep irregularities
- Racing heart
- Upset stomach
- Tense muscles
- Body aches
The symptoms vary depending on the illness and other factors such as age and sex. Stress plays a big role in our wellness with 75% – 90% of doctor visits in the U.S. in some way related to stress. Other common mental health disorders such as depression, Anxiety disorders, and addiction contribute to the severity and can even cause physical symptoms to manifest.
Therapy for Psychosomatic Disorders
Most psychosomatic stress disorder symptoms are mostly caused by physical ailments. As such, the primary treatment should be medications, lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, and surgery if needed. That being said, to truly heal and completely relive symptoms including chronic pain, every cause must be taken into consideration.
Also known as “talking therapy,” psychotherapy is the primary way mental health professionals diagnose mental illness. Through sessions of talking out the patient’s perceptions of their illness and their life experiences, doctors attempt to determine the type of mental disorder and recommend treatment.
Life takes its toll on our minds and body. The goal of psychoanalysis is to understand how the experiences in our lives have impacted our mental health. It is a lengthy process and requires the patient to fully commit to the treatment.
Psychoanalysis is a complete therapy as it dives deep into the patient’s psyche to reveal underlying causes of mental illness such as childhood trauma or abuse that the patient may not even consciously remember. It is not a perfect science and has only been practiced since the time of its founder, Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939). However, the evidence points to psychoanalysis as a highly effective therapy for mental illness, especially for deep rooted physiological problems.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
You may have heard that our thoughts control our reality. Cognitive behavior therapy seeks to identify the thoughts and beliefs that contribute to our mental health issues. Once the self-limiting and destructive thoughts and beliefs are systematicaly identified the work of changing them to healthy ones can begin.
The above mental health treatments are the most commonly thought to be effective in treating the mental side of psychosomatic disorders, but there are many others that could be just as effective or more effective including:
- Group psychotherapy
- Electroconvulsive therapy
- Abreaction therapy
- Acupuncture therapy
Mental illness is a serious issue in our society with tens of millions of Americans suffering from mental illnesses. What’s more, it is estimated that less than half of these conditions are ever treated by mental health professionals. The statistics are heartbreaking and these facts show that the stigma of mental illness being an “inherent personality weakness” must be overcome if we are to improve the health of humanity as a whole.
A Holistic Approach
It is clear that our health is not a purely physical system, nor is it only a mental construct. The holistic medicine approach to health has been embraced by civilization since ancient times. In the interest of improving the lives of millions of people, it may be time to proactively seek to merge treatments of the mind and body.
Take control of your health. To treat your chronic pain from the physical side seek out a “chiropractor near me” and consult your physician. If your condition doesn’t improve you should consider seeing a mental health professional as your chronic pain may need to be treated holistically.
Be Kind to Yourself
In the end, the truth is we are responsible for our health. When our body tells us somethings wrong, it is our duty to listen and act accordingly. The decisions we make in seeking treatment of the many types of psychosomatic disorders directly impacts our quality of life.
Chronic pain is a symptom of health issues, but can only be fully cured by attacking the root cause of the pain. Whatever the cause of your chronic pain, either physical, mental, or both you owe it to yourself to find out. For more life-changing articles about your wellness keep reading our blog.