What is a psychosomatic symptom?

October 14, 2021

Do you know your body talks?

It might not be able to speak English, French or Arabic but studies show that between 5 to 7 percent of the population experiences physical symptoms without a clear medical explanation. These physical signs are one of the body's language and we call them Psychosomatic Symptoms.

What are psychosomatic symptoms?

Psychosomatic literally means that relates to both psycho (Ancient Greek for mind) and soma (Ancient Greek for body). According to WebMed psychosomatic symptoms are physical symptoms experienced in the body that don't have a direct physical cause. One of the most common psychosomatic disorder of this century is stress.  Stress is not an illness of the body, but of the mind and yet it reflects on bodily and metabolic functions like sleep, digestion, blood pressure etc..

The scientific explanation to why people experience physical discomfort of all sorts when experiencing issues in their mind is because the brain is the powerhouse that controls the nervous system, regulates the hormones we have in the body and, in particular can send messages of discomfort to the body through the vagus nerve.

How can I get rid of them?

Actually, it would be best not to get rid of them. Don't get me wrong, I don't wish for anyone to be suffering with IBS or massive headaches, stomaches or difficulty in falling asleep, but wanting to get rid of the physical displays of a problem that affects the mind is a common misconception that doesn't bring many long lasting results. Like I said before the body talks and this is its language. If we remove all of the symptoms of the body by taking some painkillers without addressing the actual cause of the symptoms, we are only taking away the body's means to communicate with us, not the actual root of the problem.

Does this mean I am stuck with them forever?

No it does not! It just means that you might need to take a break from your usual frenetic life made of commitments, work and training hard, to observe how your body feels and reacts to certain situations in your life. You might eventually discover that you experience headaches specifically before meeting with your boss or that you might not be able to sleep especially before a tough exam.

I was, once, struggling with tremendous IBS, would wake up in the morning before senior school with a belly that was so bloated, I looked 7 months pregnant. I tried to go down the traditional route first, consulting doctors and specialists (always consult your GP when experiencing ANY DISCOMFORT first) and when they couldn't help with traditional antibiotics and antispasmodic tablets I felt very sad and disheartened.

Until I approached some holistic practitioners and they helped me, within a year, to tune in with the subtle sensations of my body and remove the hate and judgement I felt towards it.

After all, my body was just trying to communicate something to me. The problem wasn't the language my body used (IBS, belly aches), it was that I wasn't listening.

Holistic practices falling under the umbrella of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) base most of their work on learning how to read and work alongside these symptoms.

Body Reflexology,Yin Yoga, Shiatsu, Acupuncture and Acupressure are some of the examples of holistic treatments that take into consideration these Psychosomatic symptoms to then aid some positive change in both body and mind. By applying pressure or stimulating certain areas of the body, they send impulses to the vagus nerve, which in return, helps calming the mind and therefore lessens the physical symptoms that are usually experienced in the body too.