Last update: July 25, 2017
Have you ever experienced severe headaches or stomach discomfort during periods of heightened anxiety? Or maybe you have more contractures? Have you noticed an increase in these symptoms after getting mad about something? If you think about it, emotions can have a strong influence on physical discomfort, It is not so?
With this premise it is easier to understand what is meant by psychophysiological disorders: these are physical diseases that have their origin in some psychological factors or that see their course influenced by these. Discover the importance of managing negative emotions for your physical health!
"Of a hundred diseases, fifty are caused by fault, fifty by ignorance."
Why do emotions affect psychophysiological disorders?
Emotions manifest themselves through a triple response system: cognitive, motor and physiological. The cognitive system refers to the thoughts that go through our heads when we experience various emotions. When we get overwhelmed with anger, for example, our thoughts are like "he's doing this to bother me", "I can't believe he's doing this to me", etc. However, the speech is totally different when we are sad, for example.
The motor system, on the other hand, represents the set of behaviors that we perform according to the emotions we feel. If we are seized with fear, for example, we will try to protect ourselves or escape, reactions that do not occur if, instead, we feel joy.
Finally, the physiological system consists of the set of bodily sensations manifested. In this sense, there are emotions that activate or turn us off more than others. Anxiety, to understand us better, is an emotion that makes us particularly active on a physiological level, accelerating our heart rate or our breathing.
How do anger and anguish affect psychophysiological disorders?
Psychophysiological disorders are numerous. We can talk about cardiovascular (arterial hypertension), respiratory (bronchial asthma), endocrine (diabetes), gastrointestinal (peptic ulcer), dermatological (urticaria) or immunological disorders, as well as chronic pain or rheumatoid arthritis. These are just a few examples. All these disorders will be affected by the physiological manifestation of emotions, especially anxiety and anger.
"In the face of the diseases generated by misery, in the face of the sadness, anguish and social adversities of peoples, microbes, as a cause of disease, are a poor cause"
Both emotions involve a high physiological activation. They cause the onset of muscle tension, hyperventilation or acceleration of the heart rhythm, among other physiological symptoms. At first, the body is activated in this way to deal with the danger that caused these emotions. In itself, therefore, it is not a negative phenomenon.
The problem arises when we experience these emotions too intensely, too often, or for prolonged periods of time. In those cases, instead of disappearing after passing the initial moment, the activation makes the body enter in tension, exceeding the limit of our possibilities. The organs become overloaded and thus generate morphological and functional alterations.
What role do somatic symptoms play in this process?
Everything illustrated so far leads us to a conclusion: it is possible to learn how to better manage our negative emotions through the way we perceive and interpret various situations. The same happens if we manage to find adaptive solutions to what happens to us.
In this way, our level of activation will not get out of hand and we will run less risk of developing psychophysiological disorders. The same happens with any other somatic disease. In these cases, the patient can:
-Be convinced that it is not serious.
-Knowing that it is serious, but not wanting to fight because it lacks hope.
-Know that it is serious, but decide to live better and not limit yourself more than you have to.
"The disease that occurs is more dangerous"
By opting for one of these three options, you will prevent anxiety and anger related to physical problems from escalating. So, the likelihood of psychophysiological disturbances will also be reduced. Sometimes it is not easy to achieve this goal, but with the help of a good psychologist it is possible to do so.
Images courtesy of David Cohen, Benjamin Combs and Milada Vigerova.