Everything You Need To Know About Psychosomatic Disorder

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Psychosomatic disorder refers to a physical illness or disease that is thought to be caused by mental factors like depression and anxiety or stress, according to The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders. In this article, we will write about the causes, symptoms and treatment of psychosomatic disorder.

Some of the physical diseases are made worse by mental factors such as anxiety and depression. And a person's mental state can affect the degree of severity of a physical disease.

When a physical disease is thought to be caused by mental factors, it is referred to as a psychosomatic disorder. 'Psyche' means the mind and 'somatic' means the physical signs and symptoms that are visible for the disease.

Psychosomatic disorder includes diseases or conditions like stomach ulcers, eczema, psoriasis, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Depending on an individual's temperament and mentality, these physical diseases or conditions can affect a person's mental health largely. Psychosomatic disorders also affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal system and the cardiovascular system, according to The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders.

Many noted studies have revealed that there is an increased nerve impulse activity from the brain to various parts of the body when you are anxious, depressed or stressed which is a contributing factor for the physical symptoms.
A number of other factors may also play a role in psychosomatic disorder like genetic or environmental family influences, biological factors, personality traits, learned behaviour and so on.

1. Rapid heart rate
2. Nausea and palpitation
3. Pain
4. Dry mouth
5. Tremors
6. Perspiration
7. Chest pain
8. Faintness
9. Rapid breathing
10. Fatigue
11. Gastrointestinal problems
12. Neurologic problems

Psychosomatic disorders are divided into seven types:

1. Undifferentiated somatoform disorder -  A person experiences one or more above-mentioned symptoms for a minimum of six months.

2. Somatization disorder - This disorder is a type of mental illness that causes one or more bodily symptoms which include pain, gastrointestinal and neurologic problems.

3. Unspecified somatoform disorder - When symptoms from two or more different types of somatoform disorders are identified, it is referred to as unspecified somatoform disorder. These symptoms vary but centre around complaints about pain.

4. Illness Anxiety Disorder (Hypochondriasis) - People with this disorder believe that even a mild condition is a serious disease. They think that minor symptoms are signs of very serious medical problems, for example, a headache is a sign of brain tumour.

5. Conversion Disorder- Researchers say that this disorder occurs in response to an emotional or physical trauma. The signs and symptoms of this type of disorder include the inability to make a sound, unconsciousness, dropping of the eyelids, sudden illness attacks, vision problems and loss of sensation in one or more body parts.

6. Pain Disorder - Experiencing pain in one or more body parts over a long period of time due to psychological stress. The pain is often severe and could last for a few days to years.

7. Body Dysmorphic Disorder- People with this type of disorder feel that their body is defective. They keep thinking about their flaws and often opt for cosmetic surgeries to improve their appearance.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is the first option of treatment for a psychosomatic disorder. This therapy aids the patients to learn new ways to cope with problems and solve them as well as help in gaining a deeper understanding of their condition. It further helps them to learn to set realistic life goals and identify behaviours or thoughts that have negative effects on their lives.

Medications are given to alleviate the some of the physical symptoms which include tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, atypical antipsychotics, serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors and herbal medications. Depending on the age of the patient, duration, intensity of the disease and treatment, different combinations of drugs are prescribed.

Yoga is another treatment for psychosomatic disorders as it's known to have a calming effect on the body, makes you aware of your surroundings and lets you accept yourself. It also helps in busting stress and other mental conditions if done on a daily basis.

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