Physical symptoms or coping with illness

  • Have you gone from doctor to doctor with concerns about physical symptoms, your physical health or appearance – without receiving enough help or reassurance?
  • Are you struggling to cope emotionally or psychologically with a serious or chronic physical illness or disability?

The assumption that there is a clear split between the mind and body might be a useful starting point when looking for help. For example, if you have chest pain, the first step would be to consult a medical doctor to look for an underlying physical problem that is causing the discomfort. You would get a physical examination and various laboratory and other tests to try to figure out what is going on. But after the examination and tests are complete, the problem is never black and white. You may be told that the tests confirm a particular physical illness but now you have to cope with the anxiety and depression that you feel about your diagnosis. You may be told that the test results were normal and you are left wondering, ‘Did they miss something?’ or ‘If it’s not a physical illness, what else could this be?’

You might have recurring physical complaints that cannot be explained by a medical disorder, and you become totally preoccupied with doubt and concern. Perhaps you have an exaggerated focus on some aspect of your appearance. The search for help from medical specialists leads nowhere.

If an established illness or disability has caused you or your loved ones terrible emotional and psychological turmoil, the stress may be a major contributor to your suffering.

  • Each individual suffering with physical symptoms and having difficulty coping with illness has unique characteristics and should be thoroughly assessed.
  • Every person suffering with physical symptoms or having difficulty coping with illness would benefit from connecting with a skilled psychotherapist.

Blog posts on this topic

Chronic Illness and Mental Health (Part 1)

This is the first in a series of blogs contributed by our PM clinician Andrea Rawson,  who will introduce you to mental health issues associated with chronic illness.  She will explain how psychotherapy can help families maintain resiliency and thrive … Continue reading →