WHEN THE BODY SCREAMS “I can’t do this any more” (Psychosomatic disorders)

Psychosomatic illness is always a signal, a message from the body, which needs to be listened to and decoded in order to be understood and treated. It is a disorder of an organ under the influence of psychological factors. Whenever you go out to the doctor with the message that your health problem is “nerve-based”, it is actually a psychosomatic disorder, or illness. It exists, it is realistic, you feel it most often in the form of severe pain or discomfort localized somewhere in your body, but blood and other medical analyzes show that there is no problem. When medicine is not enough… Since ancient times, man has questioned the origin of various diseases that affect him, trying to understand them and find adequate ways of treatment. Since always, man has also wondered about the influence that the mind (or psyche, soul) has on the creation of our health, that is, the disease. From time immemorial, there have been diseases that had no medical indication on the one hand, as well as examples of self-healing without the help of drugs and medicine, on the other. Both of these mechanisms: the mechanism of creating and eliminating diseases in the background have a very powerful leader, our psyche.

What are psychosomatic disorders? Psychosomatic symptoms are the body’s reaction (created by the autonomic nervous system) to situations of mental disorder or stress. These are not real illnesses, but they manifest as isolated elements or in the context of other psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, hypochondria, panic attacks, sleep disorders, tachycardia, menstrual pain, headache or other chronic or recurrent pain with no indication of physical disturbance. Therefore, psychosomatic disorders are disorders that we can claim to have a psychological origin. The most common psychosomatic disorders include: • gastrointestinal disorders: gastritis, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation; • cardiovascular diseases: tachycardia, arrhythmias, hypertension; • respiratory diseases: bronchial asthma, hyperventilation syndrome; • urogenital diseases: menstrual pain and premenstrual syndrome, impotence, premature ejaculation; • skin diseases: psoriasis, acne, atopic dermatitis, itching, dry skin, profuse sweating; • musculoskeletal disorders: tension headaches, muscle cramps, stiff neck, myalgia and fibromyalgia, arthritis, back pain; • pain disorder: chronic or recurrent pain in one or more parts of the body.

What determines that one of the symptoms can be defined as a psychosomatic disorder is the fact that even after a long series of laboratory analyzes and examinations, various consultations with various specialists, a person does not receive a satisfactory medical explanation: one doctor after another gives the same answer: “Everything is just fine with your health ”. Still, there is still something there… Research conducted in the field of psychosomatics has shown that in all these situations there is an important psychological component consisting of stress, trauma, suffering, chronic tension, internal conflict that does not find means for emotional expression, and which therefore “speaks” through the body. And it has to find a way out. This explains why often those who suffer from psychosomatic disorders are not aware that they are experiencing states of emotional or psychological inner suffering. Often those who suffer from a psychosomatic disorder do not perceive their discomfort as psychological or emotional or try to deal with it simply by not thinking about it, worrying about a thousand other things, or minimizing it. They try to “not to give the importance” to their condition, almost hoping that the problem will be solved on its own. However, the problem with this treatment of one’s inner emotional life is that it is this repression that will cause the body to be “forced to speak” in some way, through a disease that will have no medical but psychological basis, a “nerve-based” , which, if neglected for a long time, can also manifest itself through a real physical illness with a medical background.

To get started on solving this type of problem: 1. Firstly, face the problem that has been simmering somewhere deep inside you for a long time. The psychosomatic difficulties you feel are a superficial form of deeper psychological discomfort that requires active coping with the problem. 2. Notice the benefits you have from your role of “patient”. As paradoxical as it may seem, psychosomatic disorder often persists for many years due to the secondary benefits it brings, in the form of family or environmental attention. Be aware of that. 3. Seek the help of a psychotherapist: medical treatment can provide some relief and in some cases is necessary, but although it sounds demanding, psychotherapy is the only way to solve the problem in the long run and finally get rid of the pain and discomfort with which he lives. Awareness of your inner psychological life, come together with your psychotherapist to the focus of your problems, get rid of the burden you carry for a long time, step into a free life, and get rid of your own symptoms and difficulties, start a life free of pain and constant concern for your own health.

Milana Zoric, PhD in Psychology