At times, teenagers or even adults visit hospitals and or clinics with many complaints pertaining to health. Anxious family members accompany them worrying about the sickness of their close one. But physical examination and investigations fail to reveal any illness.
This happens due to the fact that they suffer from psychosomatic illness. Psychosomatic illness is one which is caused and aggravated by mental stress or anxiety. The person concerned may also have something to gain from it like attention from others or escape from some unpleasant task.
Common psychosomatic symptoms are palpitations, abdominal pain, hiccoughs, body pain and unconsciousness. Hysteria is one such disorder, where mostly young women feign to be very sick, but in reality have no sickness.
Though women are said to suffer more from these conditions, men are not immune. Irritable bowel syndrome in young men is one such condition. In this condition, one has chronic recurrent diarrhea. But repeated stool tests fail to show presence of any infection. Fibromyalgia is a condition commonly encountered in young men, where they complaint of vague muscular pains.
It can be chest pain, backache or pain in the limbs. Severe chest pain mimicking heart attack is also a psychosomatic problem. An individual can have severe breathlessness, which is frightening to the onlooker, but it may be a psychosomatic complaint. In chronic fatigue syndrome, the person complaints of excess fatigue for which there is no explanation. Tension headaches occurring both in men and women are psychosomatic in nature.
Conversion disorder, where there is paralysis of one or more limbs, is an extreme form of psychosomatic condition.
A psychosomatic condition is diagnosed by excluding physical illness by means of relevant exams. It has to be differentiated from organic psychiatric problems like schizophrenia and maniac depressive illness which need treatment.
These psychosomatic disorders may be due to anxiety or mental stress. It is common to see students falling, ‘sick”, around examination times. Depression is the underlying cause of psychosomatic illness in some people.
Hypochondriac people are sick with anxiety related to imaginary disease/diseases. Even if they hear about some illness in another person, they start imagining to be suffering from it.
Some persons have psychosomatic problems one or two times as a result of some stress. In many people psychosomatic problems are recurrent or chronically present.
Whatever type of psychosomatic disorder one may have, it always indicates a weak mind. Alcohol and other addictions add on the problem.
Such individuals spend a lot of time visiting hospitals to seek treatment. It is not an individual problem but affects the society as a whole because overall productivity is affected. Therefore it concerns all.
With any member being affected by a psychosomatic problem, entire family is disturbed. All members become anxious, cannot enjoy any pleasure because some one in the family is falling sick repeatedly. It also burdens the family financially.
In hospitals, they add on the number of patients and work load of hospital staff. With limited number of working hands available in the hospital, these individuals divert the focus of health personnel, from really sick people.
In institutions such people avoid their share of work due to the supposed sickness. This reduces the entire productivity of that institute. Authorities also remain in a dilemma what to do with this employee?
Majority of these people may or may not be aware of the true nature of their sickness. They also do not realize that being in the hospital is not going to solve any problem for them. Rather they expose themselves to acquiring infections from other patients.
Instead of attention and medicines, these people need good counseling. It is better to face the world bravely and find solutions for stressful situations, instead of getting sick. They need to learn and practice techniques for mental relaxation.