Is Psychosomatic Disease All in the Mind
When a disease is of unknown origin, it can be referred to as psychosomatic disease. Does that mean that it is not a physical disease?
It is not. Instead, psychosomatic (psycho = mind & soma = body) diseases are very real, diagnosable, and physical (J. S. Greenberg, 2017). The root of psychosomatic illness stems from the mind making the body more vulnerable. Once the body is vulnerable, physical disease or disorder can manifest.
To help understand this sequence, let’s look at the common cold. Unbeknownst to most, the common cold is considered a psychosomatic disease. Before we ‘catch’ the cold, we most often times experience psychological stress. This stress decreases the effectiveness of our immune system to fight viruses, making us more vulnerable to the common cold.
But the mind’s effect on the body goes much further than making us susceptible to the common cold.
Mental issues, such as stress, not only lowers our defense against viruses but also increases inflammation, and decreases the immune system’s ability to eliminate waste and cancer cells. Thus it is suspected that many physical diagnosable diseases, such as asthma, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis, could have been caused by emotional stressors (without discarding the biological contributions as well as genes). (J. S. Greenberg, 2017).
Thus, when working with someone with a psychosomatic disease, consider addressing the psychological and emotional stressors that they experienced in the weeks and months prior to the disease manifesting in the body. These can be key contributors in the causation of the disease and symptoms and, most importantly, factors that need to be resolved to regaining health.
Reference: J. S. Greenberg (2017), Comprehensive Stress Management. McGraw-Hill Education, NY, NY