"She told me my pain was psychosomatic," a client told me. "I got so angry. How dare she tell me my symptoms are in my head? I fired that doctor immediately. I don't need someone to tell me my pain isn't real!"
This client was so angry even when she recounted this story to me years after this incident had taken place. I get it. The word "psychosomatic" is so misused in the health sphere, and that's especially dangerous when we already have an epidemic of providers not taking women seriously when they complain about pain or health issues.
Just look at any community or organization that serves or advocates for chronic pain or pelvic pain and you'll find hudreds of thousands of women with stories of being brushed off for their pain. It's abhorrent.
Correcting the misconception about psychosomatic symptoms
So let's start at the top.
Psychosomatic does not mean your symptoms are in your head. You're not making them up. They're very real.
For many of my clients, measurable even: Elevated blood pressure. Spikes in blood glucose readings. Preterm contractions. Migraines. Headaches. Pelvic pain. When no obvious physical cause is found, you might find your symptoms often described your medical team - and sometimes even mental health providers - as psychosomatic.
Again, that doesn't mean they're in your head.
All it means is we don't have the capability/interest/resources/bandwidth, etc. to test for where these symptoms are coming from outside of our known physical causes.
Psychosomatic symptoms do not improve with relaxing or being more positive.
Unfortunately, instead of hearing that, too often I hear from my clients that their OB told them to relax and they should feel better, making my clients feel like they're making up their symptoms when they clearly are not.
Psychosomatic symptoms arise from a chemical chain reaction due to nervous system dysregualation. This dysregulation creates shifts in your endocrine, immune and other body systems, which causes new or exacerbates existing physical symptoms.
See how much this is not in your head?? This is why mind-body work is so important, why I do what I do and why my clients see the results they see:
Blood pressure does come down.
Blood glucose levels stabilize.
Fevers of unknown origin disappear.
Preterm contractions slow.
Pain decreases or ends completely.
It's not magic. It's not because they "got their head on straight" or started thinking more positively. It has absolutely nothing to do with relaxing more or ahving a good mindset.
When you address where "psychosomatic symptoms" really come from: nervous system dysregulation and the chemical chain reaction that follows. You aren't creating or causing your symptoms. You aren't making them up. This is NOT in your head. You are not crazy. Have you ever had the word "psychosomatic" used inaccurately to explain your symptoms? Let us know below!
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