The term ‘psychosomatic pain’ is derived from “psyche” (mind) and “soma” (body), referring to real physical symptoms that are caused by chemical cascades from the brain, beginning with stress and potentially leading to increased inflammation within the body. We want to explore the connection between mental health and how it manifests in the body.
For example, those who experience depression often feel physical symptoms such as aches and pains, headaches, and even stomach aches. These physical symptoms can manifest for several reasons and may be completely separate from their normal causes.
What Are Some Common Psychosomatic Symptoms?
While psychosomatic pain can refer to any physical pain that doesn’t have a pathological explanation, there are a handful of symptoms that are frequently reported by those dealing with this kind of pain. Some of these symptoms include:
- Muscle pain
- Increased heart rate
- Chest pain
- Gastrointestinal problems
Many of these symptoms are underlying problems of a large number of illnesses but are also commonly associated with anxiety or stress. It may also be associated with poor sleep and immune suppression which can drive excessive inflammation.
What Are the Causes of Psychosomatic Pain?
Often psychosomatic pain is caused by underlying emotions. Grief, stress, and anxiety can all manifest themselves in physical ways. If a person has recently gone through a traumatic experience, this can give therapists a clue as to where these symptoms originated. Other times, the root of the problem is less obvious.
People who have experienced deep emotional trauma in the past may have buried those emotions, which are then expressed through physical pain years, even decades, later.
How Is Psychosomatic Pain Diagnosed?
The first step is ruling out any possible injuries, illnesses or pathological diseases that could be causing the pain. While this may require GP and/or physiotherapy reviews, investigations such as X-rays, and other forms of diagnostic tools, it is important not to overlook any illness that could potentially be treated. After all possibilities are ruled out, the patient may be referred to a specialist who is more knowledgeable about psychosomatic disorders – often a mental health professional.
Treating both the Physical Pain and the Mental Health symptoms.
This includes an array of support such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which addresses the relationship between our behaviour and our perceptions, consultation with a clinical psychologist with experience in persistent pain and trauma, as well as consultation with a massage therapist or physiotherapist to address the physical presentation.
Massage therapy involves the employment of hand pressure to reduce stress. The objective of this manual medicine is to provide a positive influence on the nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic systems of the body. The therapy helps to reduce anxiety and pain and provides an opportunity for the patient’s body to heal itself.