Many people with chronic health conditions, such as chronic pain, migraines, Fibromyalgia, and gastrointestinal disorders, might be told that their symptoms are “all in your head” when traditional medicine can’t provide answers. Hearing this can be very frustrating, but this statement may only be a “half-truth”. There are many medical conditions that are difficult to evaluate, diagnose, and treat. Just because the answer hasn’t been found yet, doesn’t mean there isn’t one, and it doesn’t mean “it’s all in your head”. However, it’s been well documented that our thoughts and emotions play a large role in how our bodies respond to things. For example, imagine that you are sitting peacefully in your room, happy as a clam. Then you start to think about something anxiety producing such as getting in a car accident or being diagnosed with cancer. The more you think about those things the more your body is going to respond in kind. You might start getting hot, feeling nauseous, sweaty, fearful, on the verge of tears, or get that icky feeling in the pit of your stomach. We don’t have to have science to tell us what we already know through our personal experience: our thoughts and feelings influence our physical sensations.
For those people who have chronic health problems, you may or may not know how your thoughts and feelings impact your physical health, but they do. Part of a health psychologists job is to figure out how your mind influences your body and vice versa, and then to develop strategies to make this link work to your advantage. Check out the brief article here of 10 Common Somatic Symptom Disorders: http://pro.psychcentral.com/recovery-expert/2016/01/top-ten-psychosomatic-symptoms/. If you are experiencing any of these, I’d be happy to answer a few questions or get you started on a path towards improved physical and mental health.