|Are you not feeling well? Have you recently been diagnosed with a physical illness? Illness can impact everyone around you, and may not only cause stress for the patient, but also the patient’s family. Occasionally, both parties may benefit from speaking to a therapist to relieve their anxiety.
What is the relationship between your mind and your body?
Interest in the relationship between psychological well-being and physical health has been growing rapidly. This increased knowledge and awareness can have a significant effect on medical care. Psychology has a great deal to contribute to the care of those with physical illnesses. Thinking about the links between mind and body, however, has been one-sided to a great extent. For the most part, the focus of attention has been on how psychological factors impact health to the neglect of the affect of physical illness on mental health. It is important to always be aware of the reciprocal relationship between mental and physical health. For example, research has shown that 50% of mortalities from the ten leading causes of death in this country can be attributed to behavioral patterns (Center for Disease Control, 1980); and psychological interventions have been developed for the treatment of many medical conditions including hypertension, ulcers, headaches, cancer, and many others.
Can Illness cause stress and emotional problems?
Efforts focused on studying the mind body relationship are extremely valuable, but they have often neglected the link that runs from physical health status to mental health. Illness, when severe and/or chronic, is a powerful stressor with profound psychological effects. Health problems often limit a person's capacity to work and they frequently lead to many other restrictions in one's activities. The consequences of these stresses can include such emotional reactions as anger, anxiety, fear, and depression problems in relationships especially family difficulties and confusion about how to relate to the medical treatment of the condition. Illness ranks near the very top of the list of life events that bring with them a great deal of stress. Unfortunately, too little attention is directed to this link between illness and mental health. People suffering from serious health problems very frequently miss the line between illness and psychological distress as well. Individuals are often so overwhelmed emotionally by their medical conditions that they find that the only way they can cope is through denial – sometimes which is expressed by acting as if the illness itself does not exist, or, more commonly by acknowledging the medical condition but denying its psychological impact. Indeed, many people fail to recognize the psychological consequences of their health problems even when it might seem that they are making efforts to address those issues.
Psychologists and other mental health professionals can play a key role when it comes to medical illness by helping people with physical illnesses respond to the psychological consequences of their medical conditions -- that is, focusing attention on the way illness leads to psychological distress. With chronic physical illnesses such as arthritis, asthma, chronic pain syndromes, multiple sclerosis, and ulcers in the context of individual, family, and group therapy, psychotherapy can have a great impact. Patients make use of therapy as a vehicle to help them turn the harsh realities of their medical conditions, into an opportunity for an enhanced commitment to life. Health problems can lead to psychological stress, and, if this stress is not addressed, it can worsen the patient's medical condition. Similarly, illness often results in psychological stress. Another example of the circularity of stress is family dynamics related to care giving. The illness of a family member often causes the caregivers much stress, and the ill family member is often overly involved in taking care of the emotional needs of his caregivers.
We can promote psychological well-being and this, in turn, can lead to better health -- for example, through health gains that result from more active efforts regarding self-care directed at the medical problem, or direct effects on physical processes such as blood pressure or the immune system. Psychologists and other mental health professionals can help move patients toward better health, but in order to do this, we need to take our eye off physical health as the sole target of our efforts by including a focus on psychological well-being.
In a confidential, supportive, non-judgmental atmosphere, psychotherapy or counseling with a licensed psychologist, counselor, psychotherapist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, social worker, or psychiatrist can help the individual with the disorder to gain awareness, achieve positive behavioral change, and improve functioning in school, work, and relationships.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder, phobias, fears, constant worry, or generalized anxiety disorder, and you would like more information about treatment for anxiety, want to discuss your specific needs, or make an appointment, call our office today to speak to someone.
We have licensed psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, counselors, clinical social workers, and psychiatric nurse practitioners, qualified and experienced in effectively treating anxiety disorders, and we can help suggest the therapist that best meets your needs. Our telephone number is 212-996-3939.