6 Aug 2022


Psychosomatic Disorders: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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The term “Psychosomatic Disorders”, typically, is used to refer to a physical disease which is primarily perceived to be triggered or even worsened by various mental conditions and factors. The term is derived from the words ‘psyche’, which means ‘mind’, and ‘soma’ which means body. Therefore, the term psychosomatic disorder can be put together to insinuate a disease that affects the body alongside the mind. Additionally, the term is used in events when mental factors trigger certain physical conditions, even in the absence of any detectable physical disease. For instance, chest aches may, in one way or the other, be caused by factors such as stress, even when no physical disease is present. 

Mental factors such as anxiety, stress, depression and many others, are often thought to worsen various physical diseases. At any particular point in time, an individual’s mental condition may significantly influence the severity, degree and extent of a given physical disease. Physical symptoms which are triggered by mental conditions may otherwise be referred to as somatoform or somatization disorders. These symptoms, primarily, are attributed to increased or abnormal activities of the nervous impulses which are usually sent from the brain, and are consequently channeled to various other parts of the human body. 

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Numerous factors may have a hand in psychosomatic disorders. These factors may include but not limited to; genetic factors, environmental and family influences, personality lifestyles and traits, biological issues, learned or acquired behavior, behavioral changes, among other suchlike factors. In most cases, however, somatization conditions run in families, though there are scanty evidence and data that supports specific genetically-related abnormalities, as outright and direct causes of the disease. 

The disorder may also be caused biologically, for example through anomalies like decreased cerebral sugar metabolism, abnormal cortical somatosensory activations, and many other biological complications. Exposure and stressful life events have also been proved to cause these disorders, for example, extreme trauma, abuse, neglect and others. These exposures usually place patients, especially those at a tender age, at a relatively higher susceptibility to somatization. Family conflicts, parental absence, relationship problems, and critical illness among family members have also been deemed as other precipitating, predisposing and perpetuating triggers or factors fueling the occurrence of psychosomatic disorders. 

It is important to critically look into how mental factors may have an impact on physical conditions. Significantly broad ranges of physical conditions or diseases are especially at a greater position to be worsened by mental factors. These physical diseases include various skin conditions, for example, eczema, psoriasis, and many others. In addition, conditions such as high or low blood pressure, heart anomalies and problems, are also more susceptible to being affected by mental factors. In most instances, psychosomatic problems usually have adverse effects on the respiratory as well as the gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems (Patient Platform Limited, 2016)

Research has extensively affirmed that psychosomatic disorders may have mild to even severe impacts on an individual’s quality and ways of life, spanning from interfering with the regular or normal ability to function properly, to even causing mental and physical disabilities. Therefore, health experts advise for drastic measures to be taken urgently to avoid the disorder from affecting one’s life in the negative light. 

The subject of which diseases are psychosomatic and which ones are not has courted massive controversy and debate over the years. Research has clarified that to a certain extent, it is correct to state that most diseases are usually psychosomatic. Many diseases involve the body and also the mind, majorly because there is compelling evidence that proves there is a significant mental aspect or approach, to each physical condition (O'Sullivan, 2015)

How people react to diseases, and also how they cope or deal with various conditions vary tremendously from one person to the other. People’s bodies respond to diseases differently, obviously depending on the body conformity, immunity levels, and many other factors. For instance, the rash that results from the skin condition called psoriasis may not be a significant bother to some people. On the other hand, the rash that covers the same parts of one’s body harmlessly may make someone else elsewhere feel even more ill and depressed. This is primarily because people’s bodies react to various conditions differently. 

The fact that the mind has a great impact especially on causing physical symptoms is undeniable and incontestable. For example, in the event that a person is either afraid or even anxious, they may develop various conditions such as faster heart rates, a thumping heart otherwise called palpitation, or even feeling sick or nauseated. Anxiety or fear may also result in tremors, profuse shaking, dry mouths and lips, chest pains, constant headaches, knots in the abdomen, and even faster breath. 

These physical conditions are arguably due to a significant increase in the activity of nervous impulses, which are usually sent from one’s brain to other body parts, and to the releasing of hormones called adrenaline into the blood, whenever a person is anxious. Nonetheless, the exact manner in which the mind causes various other symptoms cannot be authoritatively confirmed. Besides, how the brain or mind can impact actual physical conditions such as blood pressure, rashes and others, is not vividly clear. Medical practitioners say that it may be associated with nerve impulses being sent to the body, an assertion that is not explicitly clear. Some evidence also manifests that the human brain may affect certain cells embedded in the immune body system, which is typically involved in specific physical conditions. 

Psychosomatic disorders range from conditions such as eczema, hypertension, stomach ulcers, heart-related diseases and psoriasis, among many others. A study, in fact, inferred that anxiety, depression as well as fear are directly and primarily responsible for conditions such as myocardial infarctions. 

Psychosomatic disorder has a vast array of symptoms. Some of the most notable symptoms of this disorder include quickened pulse rate, palpitation, nausea, tremors, mild pain, dry mouths, perspiration, rapid breath, excessive fatigue, stomach knots, neurologic issues, as well as gastrointestinal complaints, among many others. 

Notably, psychosomatic conditions are in most instances, triggered by emotive stress. For this reason, doctors usually advise people to avoid getting worried or unnecessarily stressed, especially over trivial issues. Such precautionary recommendations majorly hold significant importance, especially to individuals who have weak immune systems or even those that are ill. Worrying about a condition may result in physical symptoms. 

As such, it is vital to address the various types of psychosomatic disorders critically. The condition is subdivided into seven major types. The first type is Undifferentiated Somatoform Disorder, whereby the victim experiences one symptom of the disorder, for example, fatigue, pain, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal problems or more, for not less than a period of six months. The symptoms encountered in this type of the disorder cause clinically critical distress and impairment in occupational, social, and any other relatively important areas of normal human functioning. 

Somatization Disorder is another type of the condition, whereby the victim suffers symptoms such as sexual, gastrointestinal, neurological, menstrual symptoms, pain and fatigue. This specific type of the disorder is usually prevalent among people that are between the ages of 18 and 30 years and experience the aforementioned symptoms for a number of years, without any concrete explanation for their occurrence. The diagnosis of this type may be used when victims do not satisfactorily meet the full criterion for other somatoform conditions. For instance, in the event the symptoms are consistent with the undifferentiated psychosomatic condition that has been prevalent for not more than six months. 

The third type of the psychosomatic disorders is called Unspecified Somatoform condition. In this form of the disease, the patients usually believe, beyond any reasonable doubt, that they are pregnant majorly because of the various signs and symptoms they experience. These symptoms include termination of menstrual periods, fetal movements, nausea, labor pains, and other signs of pregnancy. 

The fourth type of psychosomatic disorder is known as conversion condition. Symptoms of this particular type of the psychosomatic disease include the inability to make any sounds, abrupt and unexpected illness attacks, constant unconsciousness, drooping and sagging of eyelids especially the upper ones, loss of sensation in one or even more parts of the body, and vision problems. 

The fifth type is known as Hypochondriasis. In this particular type, patients often fear that they may be having a somewhat lethal and dangerous illness which has the potential to cause significant damage to their bodies. The patients of this type of psychosomatic disease often visit multiple doctors in a bid to prove the lethality of the disease. In this particular type, the preoccupation usually persists, in spite of appropriate medication, evaluation and also reassurance. The belief is not usually of delusional intensity, which is the case in Delusional Disorder type, thus, is not normally restricted to any circumscribed concerns especially about the appearance. 

Pain Disorder is the sixth type of psychosomatic disorder, and in this type, patients normally experience symptoms such as excruciating pain in various body parts for long periods. The aches, nonetheless, do not usually have any valid explanation. 

The seventh and last type of psychosomatic disorder is called as Body Dysmorphic condition. In this type, the people that are affected usually feel that their bodies are somewhat defective, and many of them thus resort to cosmetic types of treatments, with the ultimate aim of improving their impressions and appearance. In this type, preoccupation with imagined anomalies or defects especially in the appearance is often experienced. If even a slight physical anomaly occurs, therefore, the patient’s concern becomes markedly excessive. The preoccupation eventually results in clinically critical distress and impairment, especially in occupational, social, and other respective functioning areas. 

Having categorically addressed the symptoms and various types of psychosomatic conditions, it is also utterly important to focus on the various treatment modalities of this particular disorder. There are many ways to which this condition can be mitigated, most of which have been confirmed to be utterly effective. The first mitigation approach is by having Yoga sessions. Yoga programs usually encompass relaxation exercises as well as meditation which can go a long way in curing psychosomatic conditions (Kukreja, 2017)

Since the psychosomatic conditions are usually caused by mental conditions such as fear, anxiety and also stress, participating in relaxation and other stress-busting conditions such as yoga, may significantly help in relieving these mental-related issues. Asanas and other simple breathing activities and exercises that assist in relaxing the mind may also be effective means of mitigating the disorder, and should thus be practiced regularly, most preferably on a daily basis. Yoga has also been proven to have calming effects, thus enormously help the patient to be wary of their condition making them accept themselves as well as their surroundings. 

Medication for the psychosomatic disorder is also another convenient method that can be employed to alleviate the adverse ramifications of the condition. Normally, specific medicines are prescribed by competent physicians meant to eliminate the physical symptoms of the condition fully. The majority of the renowned doctors also recommend psychosomatic patients to psychiatrists, particularly for therapy, since the drugs usually provide temporary relief. 

An anxious individual may be more likely to experience a relapse of physical symptoms, and therefore, treating the psychological condition becomes inevitably necessary. There are different types of treatment, and they include tricyclic antidepressants, TCA, serotonin-noradrenalin reuptake inhibitors and atypical antipsychotics. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SRI, as well as herbal medications are other forms of treatment (Kukreja, 2017) . Medical specialists usually prescribe different combinations and compatibilities of the medicines, primarily depending on the patient’s age, the severity of the disorder, its duration, as well as responsiveness to the treatments. 

Another mechanism that has been proved radically effective in combating the psychosomatic condition is fasting therapy. This treatment mode is especially common in Japan, and it has since time immemorial helped to successfully alleviate not only the physical conditions associated with the psychosomatic disorder but also the psychological ones. Regarding this therapy, the autonomic nervous body systems alongside the endocrine systems are both regulated by fasting. Consequently, the body re-establishes and revamps its balance for physical as well as mental health. Therefore, the fasting approach has since been proven to be very effective as far as alleviating the disorder is concerned. 

Hypnosis is another strategy that can be employed to mitigate this condition, and its input is very notable. Hypnosis is often linked with treating diseases such as Migraines, gastrointestinal issues and asthma. That said, hypnosis can be used as a solution to physical symptoms that may be within the subconscious of the patient. Long-term hypnotherapy, primarily, may work efficiently in the resolution of underlying bodily emotions, and can also help to repulse the psyche especially from impacting the body and any symptoms from emanating. This therapy also successfully resolves issues such as dependency, fear, as well as anger. 

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is arguably the best mechanism to mitigate the effects of the psychosomatic disorder, and is also regarded as the most effective way of ensuring that the condition does not develop further causing more detrimental physical and mental conditions. According to the therapy, how people react to different situations wholly depends on their perception. People’s thoughts are usually integrated with their physical sensations, emotions, behavior, as well as the environment. This, therefore, informs how people behave in specific situations, and how their thinking processes influence their physical states. 

Nonetheless, when Cognitive Behavior Therapy is employed to treat psychosomatic conditions, it significantly helps the victims of the disorder to think holistically and cohesively, and goes a long way in relieving their health-related anxiety levels. In addition, it is noteworthy that remarkable success was noted when Cognitive Behavior Therapy was incorporated with standard medication in different settings of trials. Interestingly, even cases of extreme or severe somatization manifested significant improvements. 

An individual’s state of mind is what aggravates calms and informs their physical conditions. Therefore, psychology plays a vital role especially in curing conditions or diseases, or even during the very onset or early stages of the particular disorder. Hence, whenever one may be unnecessarily stressed, he or she might want to remember that anxiety, stress and other suchlike issues may result in something even more lethal, than just temporary emotions of anger, frustration, and depression (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2016)

According to medical professionals, individuals are advised to ensure that they undertake regular exercise activities, which play a critical role in relaxing the body muscles as well as the brain. Exercises have also been confirmed to reduce the levels of stress to human beings, and they also cut down the emotional pressures that many people undergo in their normal activities. Therefore, individuals need to undertake exercises daily. This will not only help them keep fit physically but also assist them in minimizing the chances of suffering from conditions such as psychosomatic disorders which occur as a result of excess stress, frustration or anxiety. Therefore, including training or exercising sessions to one’s daily to-do list will, in the end, bear more fruits and bring more good than harm in the long run. 


Psychosomatic Disorder is a general term that is used to refer to illnesses caused or perpetuated by psychological factors. They are diseases that affect the body as well as the mind of an individual. The mind has a great capacity to trigger these disorders, and factors such as excessive anxiety, trauma and stress are regarded as the most predominant causes of the disorder. The disorders may also be due to genetic modifications, family issues, biological abnormalities, environmental changes, behavioral change, among many others. The disorders are treatable, and the fundamental treating modes include regular exercises, medication, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, fasting therapy, yoga, among others. 


Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2016). Psychosomatic Disorder . Retrieved July 11, 2017, from britannica.com: https://www.britannica.com/science/psychosomatic-disorder 

Kukreja, K. (2017, June 30). Psychosomatic Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Types, And Treatments . Retrieved July 11, 2017, from Stylecraze.com: http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/psychosomatic-disorder-causes-symptoms-treatments/ 

O'Sullivan, S. (2015, May 30). When Illness Really is in the mind . Retrieved July 11, 2017, from TheTelegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/11635758/Psychosomatic-disorders-When-illness-really-is-all-in-the-mind.html 

Patient Platform Limited. (2016, December 30). Psychosomatic Disorders . Retrieved July 11, 2017, from patient.info: https://patient.info/health/psychosomatic-disorders 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Psychosomatic Disorders: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment.


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