Recent studies have revealed that between one in six and one in three people in the UK consults their GP about what turns out to be medically unexplained symptoms – symptoms that are either not related to an illness or are unusually exaggerated for that illness. The majority of those symptoms has a psychological foundation, though the cause can often be missed.

Take, for example, the case of a woman (let’s call her Sarah) who comforted her aunt through her last days and was with her when she died.Several months later, Sarah began to feel out of sorts.She slept badly, largely because she repeatedly woke to find her left arm a leaden weight, cold and without feeling but causing pain including inside her chest.Worried, she imagined this was a sign of a heart problem and booked an appointment with her GP.

Tests showed no signs of a heart condition but a few questions revealed that Sarah had been unexpectedly affected by her aunt’s death and she recalled that her aunt had died, from lung cancer, while lying on her left side with Sarah holding her left hand. The GP was reluctant to prescribe sleeping pills; sleeplessness was not the symptom that needed treatment. Instead, he referred Sarah to a psychotherapist where she talked through her aunt’s death and other stresses; the symptoms ceased.

Medically unexplained symptoms can affect all parts of the body and in various ways. About a third of them are musculoskeletal (including but not only back pain), roughly a fifth are abdominal (such as digestive problems), a smaller proportion has ear, nose or throat problems, others experience fatigue, dizziness or simply don’t feel right. Some symptoms can be extreme, such as paralysis or blindness; others are less severe.

Common experiences include people with depression who feel pain more intensely and people with asthma whose asthmatic attacks increase when they are under stress but there are no hard and fast rules; symptoms and their severity vary from person to person.

We don’t know how the mind, brain or body turns the psychological into the physical; the fact is that it does and we’ve known this for millennia. The solution is to consider whether the symptoms might be triggered by an underlying emotional cause and, if so, to seek psychological support. [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Source: Therapy Today]

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