Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Are psychosomatic disorders real?"
Can pain or an illness really be in your head? I've heard of psychosomatic disorders, but are they real? Could my chronic pain actually be a psychological disorder?
A psychological disorder is a disease that involves both mind and body. The mind, emotion and physical are connected. There is a mental aspect to every physical disease and how each person reacts and copes with disease varies greatly from person to person. Therefore, most diseases are psychosomatic to an extent. Some physical diseases are particularly prone to be made worse by mental stress and anxiety. Stress increases the level of endogenous steroid and thus decreases your T cell immune response leading to an increased risks for infections. A psychosomatic disorder can also be triggered by depression which can worsen your pain as a result of a decrease in endogenous endorphin and even hastens death in the ill. Likewise, the reverse is also true where your physical chronic pain can increase stress and depression. It can also arise when mental factors cause physical symptoms but there is no physical disease. For example, a chest pain may be caused by stress where no physical disease is identified. In short, psychosomatic disorders are real. Treatment of a psychosomatic disorder can be challenging. It involves the help of a primary care physician who will rule out physical causes of your chronic pain and may refer you to a psychiatrist for help in managing your disorder. Establishing a trusting, supporting relationship with your doctor is essential as well as following the treatment plan you and your doctor design specifically for you. Please make an appointment to visit a doctor soon.