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From tending your garden to running a marathon, even gentle forms of exercise can significantly improve your quality of life. Good nutrition is a crucial factor in influencing the way we feel. A healthy balanced diet is one that includes healthy amounts of proteins, essential fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. Smoking has a negative impact on both mental and physical health. Many people with mental health problems believe that smoking relieves their symptoms, but these effects are only short-term.

Nicotine in cigarettes interferes with the chemicals in our brains. Dopamine is a chemical which influences positive feelings, and is often found to be lower in people with depression. The promotion of positive mental health can often be overlooked when treating a physical condition. Psoriasis is one such condition in which the effects go beyond the visual signs and symptoms, impacting psychological wellbeing and quality of life.

One of these blocked processes is digestion. Also, adrenaline reduces blood flow and relaxes the stomach muscles. As a result, a person with anxiety may experience nausea, diarrhea , and a feeling that the stomach is churning. They may also lose their appetite. Some research suggests that stress and depression are linked to several digestive diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome IBS.

One study , of outpatients at a gastroenterology clinic in Mumbai, reported that 30—40 percent of participants with IBS also had anxiety or depression.

Physical health and mental health | Mental Health Foundation

Anxiety and stress can increase the need to urinate, and this reaction is more common in people with phobias. The need to urinate or a loss of control over urination may have an evolutionary basis, as it is easier to flee with an empty bladder. The medical community has yet to identify the cause of anxiety, but several factors may contribute to its development. Causes and risk factors may include:. To make a diagnosis, a doctor will evaluate symptoms and check for any underlying medical conditions that may be triggering the anxiety.

Anxiety is highly treatable, and doctors usually recommend a combination of some of the following:. Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the U. It causes both physical and psychological symptoms, and it can be very distressing.

How emotional trauma often manifests as physical symptoms

Long-term anxiety increases the risk of physical illnesses and other mental health conditions, such as depression. However, anxiety can respond very well to treatment. Most people who receive treatment recover well and can enjoy a good quality of life. Article last reviewed by Wed 18 July All references are available in the References tab. Anxiety disorders.

Blumenthal, J. Risk factors: Anxiety and risk of cardiac events. Nature Reviews Cardiology , 7 11 , — Kabra, N. Indian Journal of Psychiatry , 55 1 , 77— Lee, S. The effect of emotional stress and depression on the prevalence of digestive diseases. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility , 21 2 , — MLA Leonard, Jayne. MediLexicon, Intl. APA Leonard, J. MNT is the registered trade mark of Healthline Media. Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

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But almost as soon as she got there, she felt the seizures begin again. No sooner had Pauline's mother arrived to take her home than a third convulsion struck. I met Pauline shortly after.

8 Physical Symptoms from Psychological Traumas

From an early stage in my medical training I knew that I wanted to be a neurologist. I enjoyed the detective drama of the job, unraveling the mysteries of how the nervous system communicates its messages and learning all the things that can go wrong. Neurological disease manifests in elusive and strange ways. When I started, I could not have predicted how far I would find myself drawn into the care of those whose illnesses originated not in the body but in the mind. Modern society likes the idea that we can think ourselves better.

When we are unwell, we tell ourselves that if we adopt a positive mental attitude we will have a better chance of recovery. I am sure that is correct. But society has not fully woken up to the frequency with which people do the opposite—unconsciously think themselves ill. Psychosomatic disorders cause real distress and disability, but they are medical disorders like no others. They obey no rules. They can affect any part of the body. In one person they might cause pain.

It is not unusual for somebody going through a period of stress to be troubled by palpitations. Psychosomatic illness can also manifest in ways that are more extreme but less common, such as paralysis or convulsions. Almost any symptom we can imagine can become real when we are in distress—tremor, fatigue, speech impairments, numbness. On any average day perhaps as many as a third of people who go to see their general practitioner have symptoms that are deemed medically unexplained.

Of course, a medically unexplained symptom is not necessarily psychosomatic. There will always be diseases that stretch the limits of scientific knowledge. But among those with undiagnosed physical symptoms is a large group in whom no disease is found because there is no disease to find. In those people the medically unexplained symptoms are present, wholly or partially, for psychological or behavioral reasons. Psychosomatic disorders are physical symptoms that mask emotional distress.

The very nature of the physical presentation of the symptoms hides the distress at its root, so it is natural that those affected seek a medical disease to explain their suffering. They turn to medical doctors, not to psychiatrists, to provide a diagnosis.

What is an anxiety disorder?

The neurologist is more often faced with a diagnosis of psychosomatic illness than other specialists. I have met many people whose sadness is so overwhelming that they cannot bear to feel it. In its place they develop physical disabilities. Against all logic, people's subconscious selves choose to be crippled by convulsions or wheelchair dependence rather than experience the anguish that exists inside them.

I have found myself astounded by the degree of disability that can arise as a result of psychosomatic illness. I have come to realize that these disabilities can serve a very important purpose. They happen for a reason. When words are not available, our bodies sometimes speak for us—and we have to listen.

There is only one way of knowing with confidence why a person has lost consciousness, and that is to witness the event. Sometimes blackouts have a trigger. In epilepsy it might be flashing lights or sleep deprivation. Where triggers are not clear, video telemetry units are invaluable. In a video telemetry unit, patients are restricted to a room where they are under constant video surveillance while electrodes attached to their head make a round-the-clock recording of their brain wave, or EEG, pattern. The electrical activity of the brain reveals whether a person is awake or asleep, conscious or unconscious, at any given time.

An EEG is the definitive means of assessing consciousness and is one of the primary tools in understanding why a person has suffered loss of consciousness. When a convulsion occurs, the nurse is ready to run into the room to assess the patient and keep him or her safe and reassured until recovery. If a healthy person faints because of dehydration or overheating, the first physiological change is a fall in blood pressure. The heart detects the problem and tries to compensate with an increase in heart rate.

If the increased heart rate is not enough to compensate for the dropping blood pressure, then just for a moment, vital blood is drawn away from the brain. As the brain becomes deprived of oxygen, the brain waves slow dramatically and the patient loses consciousness.

The cause of a blackout might lie not in the heart or blood pressure but in the brain itself, which is the case in diseases like epilepsy, and the sequence of physiological events is different. Each pattern of events, along with a video of the collapse, suggests a specific diagnosis that is usually reliable. The overarching principle on which each diagnosis rests is always that you cannot be unconscious—neither asleep, nor anesthetized, nor in a seizure—if your brain waves do not change.

At my suggestion, Pauline was assigned to the video telemetry unit. The heart tracing is normal, so the heart looks healthy, also a relief. The brain wave pattern looked normal, and there is only one reason that people can be unconscious—completely unaware of their surroundings—with the brain waves still looking normal. And that is if the loss of consciousness is caused by something psychological rather than by a physical brain disease. But they are arising in the subconscious rather than being due to a brain disease. One extreme way that the body can respond to upset is to undergo a blackout and convulsions.

This sort of convulsion is known as a dissociative seizure. Dissociation means that a sort of split has occurred in the mind.


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Your conscious mind separates from what is happening around you. That detachment means that one part of you doesn't know what the other is doing. But it's not deliberate. You cannot make yourself unconscious any more than I can deliberately blush or produce tears. These seizures are your body telling you that something is wrong. A psychiatrist might help you work out what that is. I think that these seizures are curable, Pauline. Physical manifestations of unhappiness are something we all experience; they are not personality flaws or signs of weakness, they are a part of life. Life is hard sometimes.

It is harder for some than for others. We all manifest hardship in different ways: Some cry, some complain, some sleep, some stop sleeping, some drink, some eat, some get angry, and some suffer like Pauline. In the legal system, the burden of proof requires evidence to support the truth. But in the case of psychosomatic disorders the diagnosis most often rests on the lack of evidence. The diagnosis is made when disease is not found. Every week I tell people that their disability has a psychological cause. When they ask me how I have come to that conclusion, all I can provide is a list of normal test results, evidence for ruling out diseases.