“Psychosomatics studies the relationship of emotional, psychological and social phenomena with physical suffering/disease. At one time it was based on the concept of stress by Hans Selye, and now the data are confirmed not only by the results of the study of stress, but also by knowledge in the field of neurochemistry, brain functioning and others, ”says neuropsychologist, dialectical-behavioral therapist, member of the Supreme Expert Council of the Department of Creative Methodologies of the Academy of Social Technologies Yulia Morozova.
The specialist is sure that almost any illness can be interpreted as psychosomatic. After all, any unlived or excessively deeply lived emotion, an event in life that caused an emotional response, leads to neurochemical reactions and changes in hormone production, ranging from excessive production of cortisol (as a reaction to stress) to an imbalance in the production of serotonin, dopamine (two hormones of “happiness” ) and norepinephrine (a neurotransmitter that ensures the transmission of a nerve impulse). Their balance usually protects us from depression, while an imbalance, on the contrary, leads to it.
“Our perception of the disease, the reaction to it also affects the development of the disease and the rate of cure. Since our attitude triggers an emotional reaction, we remember that this is the neurochemistry of the brain, which means that this is the production of hormones and a direct effect on our hormonal system, which can both provide us with protection from external influences and increase our vulnerability to them, ”explains specialist.
Since emotions affect the neurochemistry of the brain, the following problems can be attributed to psychosomatic ones, first of all, says Yulia Morozova.
First of all, these will be pathologies associated with the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, when, when faced with stress, we react according to the “Fight or flight” principle. Against this background, the excitability of tissues increases, the body is preparing to repel attacks:
- increased heart rate and breathing
- bronchi dilate
- motility and secretion of the gastrointestinal tract are reduced,
- blood vessels constrict
- blood pressure increases
- liver glycogen stores are converted into glucose, which is necessary for active actions.
If this process is short-term, then the parasympathetic nervous system will turn on, compensation will take place, and the body will not notice anything. If this is a long-term reaction, when we live in a mode of constant activation of sympathy and its insufficient compensation, there is a constant load on the cardiovascular system. “Imagine constricted vessels, how blood passes through them and how much effort it takes to pump it, pressure regularly going up, rapid breathing superficial and dilated bronchi, increased secretion and motility of the gastrointestinal tract. We get the whole spectrum of diseases of the cardiovascular system – from heart problems to heart attacks and strokes, diseases of the respiratory system (especially bronchial asthma), diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, when the most striking example is an ulcer, ”explains Yulia Morozova.
If this is your case, the specialist warns, when treating such diseases with specialized doctors (and you need to start with them in order to prevent the organ from breaking down), you should simultaneously contact a good neurologist or psychotherapist / neuropsychologist in order to receive support that helps the nervous system survive this period.
The second group of diseases is associated with a violation of the neurochemistry of the brain, and this is not only depression and increased anxiety or excitability. This is a whole spectrum of endocrine diseases (hormonal system), when violations along the chain lead to problems in the production of other hormones that are not directly related to the brain. In endocrinology, this is a spectrum of diseases of thyroid and pancreatic hormones, the production of female hormones (they most often have their roots or have a very close connection with the neurochemistry of the brain).
“Here it would be nice to find an expert in the field of psychoneuroimmunology, an interdisciplinary field at the intersection of psychology, psychiatry, neurology, immunology and endocrinology, which views this group of diseases through the prism of several sciences. First you need to contact a specialized doctor, and in parallel – to specialists in the field of mental health, ”recommends a neuropsychologist.
The main difference in this group of diseases is that more subtle and deeper work is expected than just learning the balance of sympathetic and parasympathetic, very balanced medical support is often required, the specialist warns.
“Our ability to manage emotions and cope with stress, as well as understanding exactly how our behavior and reactions affect physical health, can prevent many illnesses or facilitate recovery. After all, as you know, the disease is easier to prevent than to treat. Of course, this does not mean that if you get sick, then only psychotherapy will help you. If the disease has developed, it means that the organs have already suffered and the help of medical specialists is needed. But at the same time, it is important to simultaneously launch mechanisms that accelerate recovery, including work with emotions and behavior, to reconsider lifestyle and habitual reactions, ”concludes Yulia Morozova.