The human body reacts to external and internal stimuli every day, creating a somatic response. Somatic responses refer to the way our bodies move and act in response to a bodily sensation. Our body provides information through somatic cells, and then we have a response to that information. Such a response is a type of mind-body connection.
Did you know that emotional distress can create a somatic response in our bodies? This means our mental health can cause us to have physical symptoms. This happens more often than you probably realize. For example, when you are sad about something, your brain tells your body to cry. Or, if you are afraid, your body might tell your body to breathe faster to prepare itself for fight or flight mode. However, severe mental or emotional anguish can cause other types of symptom responses in our bodies. Our bodies are amazing at giving us feedback, but we need to listen.
Untreated mental health conditions can create physical symptoms or exacerbate an existing medical condition, making it worse. If untreated, it can also lead to using substances to cope. Over time, this will lead a person to develop bad habits that will continue to perpetuate symptoms. It is important to understand the symptoms so that you can take action. Some common somatic symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic pain
You could experience one or multiple symptoms. There are also neurological symptoms that you could exhibit. Some of these symptoms could include:
- Trouble with speech
- Memory loss
These are just some of the most common symptoms doctors see in patients with severe mental health issues. Understand that it is important to remember that any unexplained symptom could result from intense mental illness. It is always a good idea to talk to a mental health professional if you think you might be experiencing somatic symptoms due to mental illness.
Certain things increase your risk of having your mental health manifest itself in physical symptoms. Just because you have these things doesn’t automatically mean that you will have physical symptoms; it just increases your risk of those symptoms being present in conjunction with mental health issues. A history of anxiety and depression increases your risk of somatic symptoms. Having a pre-existing medical condition can also put you at increased risk of having somatic symptoms. Stressful life events can cause somatic symptoms.
How to Treat Somatic Responses
If you have unexplained somatic symptoms, the first thing to do would be to have your doctor check for any physical illness that might be causing your symptoms. Such a process might include running certain scans or lab tests to determine an appropriate diagnosis. Taking the time to rule out physical symptoms will help you narrow down the possibilities. If you and your doctor don’t find any physical illness present, it might be worth exploring your mental health to see if it is exhibiting itself through physical symptoms. Several types of treatment help with physical symptoms stemming from your mental well-being, including:
- Mind-body strategies
- Therapy counseling
- Physiotherapy and rehabilitation
It’s important to remember that this will take time to diagnose and that treatment will be a long process with gradual steps to feeling better. Understanding this can create less stress around the process and hopefully help produce a better result. Remember, the key to any successful venture requires patience and persistence.
When to See a Doctor
Battling physical symptoms and not knowing where they come from could be frustrating and painful. If your physical symptoms create overwhelming worry and physical pain that makes it difficult to function daily, then it is time to reach out to a doctor. Reaching out to a doctor is the first step to examining your physical illness and then moving on to dealing with your mental health.
Unfortunately, some people will not reach out because they think it is all in their head, or a doctor has told them it is all in their head; this is especially true in children. That is not the case. Sometimes it takes another opinion to allow you to learn about your illness and work to treat it. The mind-body connection is strong and could become detrimental to people’s quality of life. So, if you are struggling with physical pain and the doctors are saying that there is nothing physically wrong with you, reach out to a mental health professional that will listen to you and help you onto the path of proper treatment.
At Acera Health, we understand that our bodies are unique creations that use all their senses to communicate with us. Through somatic responses, our bodies might be trying to communicate with us about intense mental or emotional anguish that needs your attention right now. It is not in your head, and your feelings are valid. Taking the time to talk with a mental health professional could be the difference between living a life full of pain and a life full of joy. It all starts with taking the first step. Here at Acera, we listen and value your thoughts and honor your symptoms. We want to do everything we can to help you overcome these struggles. If you or someone you know has struggled with mental illness and is experiencing physical symptoms that are not a result of physical illness, please reach out. Learn more by calling (949) 647-4090.