A psychosomatic disorder is defined as an illness which causes physical symptoms in the body but there is no physical disease. This disorder is thought to be caused by some mental factors such as stress or anxiety which cause physical syptoms. Psychosomatic disorders can have mild to severe effects on one’s normal routine of life. For example, neck pain may be caused by anxiety but no physical disease can be found. Physical symptoms that are caused by mental factors are also called somatization or somatoform disorders. Depression can also be the factor for psychosomatic illness. Stress and depression can literally be expressed as pain and illness. These symptoms are due to increased activity of nerve impulses sent down from the brain to various parts of the body.
A common misconception is that a psychosomatic condition is imaginary or "all in someone's mind." Actually, the physical symptoms of psychosomatic conditions are real and should be treated quickly, as with any other illness.
If one of your body systems is weakened, this is where a stress-related illness is most likely to develop. If your weakest point physically is your neck, you'll develop neck pains. Or back pain.
Treatment of Psychosomatic Disorders
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is often the treatment of choice for a psychosomatic disorder. This therapy helps patients learn new ways to cope with and solve their problems as they gain a deeper understanding of their condition or circumstances. Patients will also learn to set realistic life goals and identify and change behaviours or thoughts that have negative effects on their lives.
Controlled ways you can cope with include:
- Talking to someone you trust.
- Joining a support group.
- Relaxation techniques (check out these stress management techniques to see what may work best for you).
- Taking some leisure time for yourself.
- Taking a break from the situation you're in.
- Consider a herbal supplement for stress like Kava Kava or Valerian to help you relax (keep in mind that herbal supplements can have side effects just like prescription medications, and it's important to talk to your doctor about what is safe).
- Taking care of your health by eating right, exercising and not smoking.
- Being honest with those around you (maintaining a lie is very energy consuming)
- Letting go of old grudges. Keep in mind that sometimes letting go of a relationship which stresses you are needed.
- Doing something nice for others (if you're not accustomed to doing this) or taking some time just for you (if you are always sacrificing for everyone else).
The list is endless. Just vent that steam!