Our psyche is often hidden behind pain

Our psyche is often hidden behind pain

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When the psyche makes the body sick

Often there are no organic but mental causes behind headache and back pain, stomach problems, dizziness or other physical complaints. Affected: a third of all adult Germans. Dr. explains how psychosomatic disorders develop and what helps against them. med. Thorsten Bracher, chief physician of the Schlossparkklinik Dirmstein.

Whether headache and backache, gastrointestinal complaints, dizziness or skin rash: many physical complaints are psychological - or at least psychological factors play a major role in the development. Doctors assume that a third of all Germans are affected - and the trend is rising. Experts suspect that this is due to increasing stress and high pressure to adapt and perform in our fast-moving times.

Often, those affected have a long path of suffering before finally finding the long-awaited help from experts in mental disorders (specialists in psychiatry or psychosomatic medicine, psychotherapists). "Usually, organic causes are suspected and appropriate specialists are consulted," explains Dr. Thorsten Bracher, chief physician of the Schlossparkklinik Dirmstein. But neither ultrasound, computed tomography or MRI show the cause - and so there is often a grueling walk from doctor to doctor. "Many sufferers hesitate a long time before they turn to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist because they cannot understand that their physical complaints should be psychological," says the specialist in psychosomatic medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy from years of practice.

Therapeutic help

Even if no organic causes can be determined, psychosomatic complaints are by no means "imaginary" diseases and the sufferers are also not "simulants". As a rule, the symptoms turn out to be at least as stressful, they only have one other cause: As the name suggests, the interplay between soul (Greek: psyche) and body (soma) is decisive. "As soon as those affected understand that their body is expressing something that their soul is unable to express, therapeutic help can begin," emphasizes Dr. Bracher. The goal is to "recognize unconscious emotional conflicts hidden behind the physical symptoms or to identify special psychological stresses and to find solutions together." Thereby mainly behavioral and deep psychological psychotherapy are used - methods whose effectiveness has been scientifically well researched and is occupied. In addition to outpatient psychotherapeutic treatment, drug support with an antidepressant can also be useful in certain cases.

If the symptoms are very pronounced and do not respond adequately to outpatient treatment, the expert recommends treatment in a specialist clinic. The same applies if the symptoms are so severe that it is hardly possible to cope with everyday life. There, the patients are treated with a therapy program composed of various components. In addition to psychotherapy, it usually also includes procedures such as art, ergo, music and movement therapy, physiotherapy and relaxation techniques (e.g. autogenic training, progressive muscle relaxation) - possibly combined with drug treatment.

This works against pain & dizziness

Pain very often has psychosomatic reasons. The musculoskeletal system or the abdomen are often affected. If organic causes can be excluded, psychotherapeutic treatment can lead to a significant improvement. "In addition to reducing the pain, it is often also a matter of changing the way it is dealt with, since complete freedom from pain cannot always be achieved," explains Dr. Because “the individual reaction pattern of feeling physical pain when stressed by the soul remains fundamentally.”

Learning targeted stress management strategies is also very helpful, since chronic stress is often a major cause of psychosomatic complaints (such as pain or gastrointestinal complaints). Keeping a pain diary can provide further clarity about the relationship between symptoms and triggers. The teaching of relaxation techniques such as autogenic training, yoga and progressive muscle relaxation is a valuable supportive measure.

Many sufferers are not aware that back complaints are not necessarily caused by sitting at the desk for hours or not exercising enough, but can also have psychological causes. "Of course, here too one suspects misalignments, one-sided loads or weak back and abdominal muscles as the trigger," emphasizes Dr. But "functional back pain", as the corresponding diagnosis is called, is very often the result of pressure to perform, conflicts and other psychological stress. Painful muscle hardening and tension occurs, which affects the cross. In addition to psychotherapy, massages and relaxation exercises can help. "It is important, as with other psychosomatic complaints, to provide enough physical balance," recommends Dr. Every now and then in the office or at home, a stretching exercise in between pleases your back and joints.

Dizziness attacks are often the result of mental problems. After headaches, dizziness is one of the most common symptoms in this country, which causes patients to see a doctor. If physical causes such as disorders of the balance organ, circulatory problems, viral infections or nerve inflammations are excluded, there is probably a psychological dizziness. This can be treated psychotherapeutically. The combination of behavioral therapy and certain exercises has proven to be particularly effective.

How do psychosomatic complaints develop?

The possible triggers are as varied as the symptoms. Experts assume that biological, psychological and social factors usually work together. In addition to a genetic predisposition, stress, personal losses, traumatic experiences (especially in childhood) and unconscious conflicts also play a role. In addition to physical complaints, depressive moods or fears are not uncommon. The symptoms often change - and initial back pain becomes headaches or gastrointestinal problems, for example.

Learn to understand the inner life better

Psychosomatic complaints are generally considered to be treatable. At the beginning of every treatment with a psychiatrist or psychotherapist there is a detailed discussion in order to recognize the previous course of the disease and causes and to be able to draw up an individual treatment concept. Even if there is not always complete freedom from symptoms, in the majority of all cases the symptoms can be significantly improved. "In addition, the patient now knows how to perceive his" inner life "better and how to deal with his complaints much better," says Dr. (pm)

Author and source information

Video: Suffering in Silence: The Emotional Abuse of Men. Dr. Timothy Golden. TEDxWallaWallaUniversity (August 2022).