Tuesday, July 19, 2016

# Somatic Symptoms Disorder

It is common to feel weak in the knees before a crucial event or develop a headache merely from thinking about a taxing assignment.These instances illustrate the fact that mind and body are intimately intertwined.It is easy to brush off paltry effects of tension but this very phenomenon can engender untold distress when it is aggravated.

Some people experience a large number of physical complaints or a couple of pain-related ones which cause them a lot of suffering;so much so that their thoughts,emotions and behavior center around those symptoms.Even normal bodily sensations alarm them and they are convinced that they have a terrible disease.Their complaints may fluctuate,but they never feel completely healthy.

They will talk endlessly about the state of their health and give vivid descriptions of their complaints.They spend a lot of time and energy chasing their health concerns.It is an endless occupation for them.So much so that their daily routine is drastically disrupted and they become dysfunctional.Even pleasurable activities hold no charm for them.#Anxiety about their health devours everything.What is remarkable is,that their #worries and 
#fears are out of all proportion to their symptoms.

They visit many doctors and undergo various tests but negative results or the doctor's assurances fail to pacify them.It is almost as if they are looking for a confirmation of their fears, but in reality,they do not suffer from any physical illness.

It is important to note that they do not fake these symptoms;they do feel the pain and the discomfort.This condition is known as Somatic Symptoms Disorder,which in effect means that there is no physical cause to explain the manifested symptoms.This disorder mostly begins before the age of thirty years and afflicts more women than men.The symptoms could range from minor aches and pains or gastrointestinal disorders to other more serious ones.Generally,the patient consults a health professional only after having suffered those symptoms for a long time.This retards recovery. 

The most likely explanation is, that when  psychological or emotional pressures breach someone's tolerance threshold they come out in the guise of bodily symptoms.The sufferer fails to realize that it is the mind which is playing tricks on her and consults a number of doctors to get relief.She is unaware of the emotional storms which rage in her subconscious mind and attributes all her symptoms to a nameless disease.
1)Genetic or Biological--The patient has heightened sensitivity to pain or bodily sensations.
2)Negative Personality--Distorted,catastrophic thinking or a pessimistic strain precipitates fears of suffering from a terrible disease.
3)Inability to process Emotions--Somatic symptoms disorder in such cases is the result of an inability to cope with psycho-social stress which that person is not capable of looking squarely in the face.
4)Family Influence--Maladaptive behavior of family elders could predispose a child to behave similarly.
The best treatment for this disorder is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

The therapist helps the patient to realize how her cognitive distortions are projecting a false picture of her health.

She is guided to have reasonable expectations of her health and not be alarmed by normal bodily sensations.

She is encouraged to delve into the psychological and emotional problems which could be causing those symptoms.

She is taught how to reduce the symptoms.

She is also taught how to mitigate stress.

If she suffers from #depression then that too is taken care of.

She is encouraged to take up once again,the activities which she had relinquished for fear of getting hurt or sick.

Family Therapy forms an important part of treatment.It aims at resolving hidden conflicts in the patient's family and also educates the members to treat the patient with care and patience since their support and understanding are vital for her recovery.

When the problem is severe medicines will soothe the patient's anxiety but they should be used only for short-term benefits.The real solution lies in extracting the thorns which are pricking the patient's psyche.

This disorder entails certain risk factors.In order to rule out possible complications, it is essential that there should be a good interface between the doctor and the patient.The latter should have complete faith in the former so that s/he does not undergo unnecessary procedures or ingest clashing drugs through consulting a number of health professionals or charlatans.At the same time, the doctor has to be alert to symptoms which could point to a real disease.

Even when the doctor diagnoses Somatic Symptoms Disorder the patient hesitates to accept it because of the stigma attached to mental disorders.Some will downright reject this possibility.But unless and until they accept this fact they will continue to roam in the wilderness of multiple complaints and repetitive consultations.

A word of caution--just as the mind influences the body,the body too has repercussions on the mind.Some people experience chronic unexplained physical symptoms like gastric disorders or persistent pain,and since they have suffered these symptoms for a long time they do feel considerable distress because of them.Even if no biological cause is found for these symptoms,such persons should not be labeled as suffering from a mental disorder in haste.
Related post:--
Resource:-- http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/mental-health-disorders/somatic-symptom-and-related-disorders/somatic-symptom-disorder

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Crossroad

 The future is inscrutable
The crossroad has been left far behind.
Submerged forever in a dark ravine.

Uphill it's been,since that very day,
Pebbles and thorns all the way.

I wonder about that other road,
Was it shady?Where did it go?

Barren land or lush terrain,
Welcoming arms or quick disdain?

Widespread meadows,beckoning flowers,
Serene satisfaction of happy hours.

 A symphony resonating all around,
Filling the air with joy unbound.

So easy to picture a perfect place,
Omitting all,that we truly hate.

But nature has some definite norms- 
Want the flowers?Deal with thorns.

Image courtesy google.

Monday, June 20, 2016

How # Negative Thinking Enslaves You and What You Can Do to Get Rid of It.

It is estimated that an average man(or woman)thinks between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day,although opinions differ and there is no conclusive proof.Still,it is a huge number. Just imagine,if a majority of our thoughts were negative what would the state of our minds be like. No doubt such thoughts could push us to the brink of anxiety and depression.

The first requirement of a happy life therefore is to jettison negative thoughts.The term negative here denotes those thoughts which have no basis in reality.The germ lies somewhere inside that person.

When we allow such thoughts to dominate our minds for an extended period they engrave a circuit in our brains which reinforces similar thoughts.It becomes a habitual response.

Our mind functions in such a way that when we think a particular thought,associated memories and thoughts come rushing in,so that a negative thought invites more negative thoughts.

Thirdly,negative thinking triggers the release of stress hormones like cortisol and noradrenaline,which in turn causes more stress.

These factors aggravate negativity.If this rings a bell with you here are some tips which will enable you to beat negative thinking:--

1)Neuroplasticity of brain offers us hope.An old channel of thoughts can be changed.We can build new pathways.This requires systematic,consistent,repetitive efforts.For example if you are dogged by a belief that you have cancer,then watch out for the incipience of that thought.The moment this worry begins to rankle your brain tell yourself"It is pure imagination-not true at all".If you do this repeatedly the worry will die down.

Suppose you are afraid of getting hurt in a road accident.Tell yourself that not everybody who goes out on a road gets hurt,that you are not a prophet and you should not prophetize.

In this way you are giving your brain new channels to think along,replacing a negative thought with a positive one and cautioning your mind against predicting worst case scenarios for yourself.Remember that our minds can only think one thought at a time.When you saturate your mind with positive ones the negative ones automatically disappear.

2)One way of defeating negative thoughts is to talk about them with someone who cares for you,whose acuity you believe in.S/he will sooth your fears and put your mind at rest. 

3)What you can do to beat negative thoughts depends upon where you are at that moment.If you are at your workplace then unknowingly you must have retreated in your shell, slouched and etched a frown on your face.Such a stance is bad for your mental state.Get up,straighten your back put a smile on your lips,greet someone,chat with another and lo,the negativity has subsided!Our emotions are reflected in our posture,but our posture too has the capability of affecting our emotions.

4)Alternately,observe your surroundings mindfully.Look at each object-what it is made of,where it must have come from,how it smells and feels like--you get my point I am sure.Soon you will realize that your thoughts have changed track.

5)If the tensions and worries get the better of you while you are at home take up a chore which demands your attention.Doing something worthwhile will leave you happy and satisfied.The energy expended on that chore would have absorbed the surplus harmful chemicals which were released because of your anxiety.

6)In case you are feeling too weak to do some work indulge yourself with a past time which absorbs you.It could be a brain game,board game,writing,drawing,painting,music,TV,or rummaging through your family albums.Anything which interests you will take your mind off your worries.

7)Some of us have no particular hobby.For such individuals getting out of house,meeting people,chatting with them or simply sitting in a park and communing with nature can be a good antidote.Calling up friends too,is a good idea.

8)It is not the events themselves but the way we perceive them which gives rise to anxiety.This happens because of certain cognitive distortions,more about which you can read at this post.

9)Negative thoughts make us feel weak and lethargic and as a result we skip many essential daily tasks like getting up early,making our bed,taking a bath, maintaining a clean wardrobe and keeping our things in order.All this will ultimately make us shabby and unkempt which will definitely depress us further.Therefore make it a point to religiously follow your daily routine-it keeps you occupied and less likely to ruminate.It is not for nothing that an empty mind has been likened to a devil's workshop.

10)Exercise,Yoga and meditation are useful tools for soothing the mind and eliminating negative thoughts.

11)Another way out is to consult a psychologist or a counselor who will help you to explore your mind,your attitudes and beliefs to know why you have so many negative thoughts.Do you process your emotions in the right manner?Are you oversensitive?Are your expectations justified?Does your whole attitude need to be changed?.There might be some underlying issues which require closure.Psychotherapy will help you to sort them out.

12)If your negative thoughts are too overwhelming to allow you to take any self help measures,you can take medicines which will correct the chemical imbalance in your brain and curtail negative thoughts to a large extent.But some people suffer harmful side effects from them.It is best to keep it as a short time measure.

Pick up the antidote which works best for you. It is only after you kill those negative thoughts that you will find peace and fulfillment.