Posts Tagged ‘stress’

The Physiology of Stress Illness (1)

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Stress Illness consists of medically unexplained physical symptoms that improve in response to diagnosis and treatment of psychosocial stresses.  Since these symptoms are not imaginary, they are undoubtedly associated with one or more underlying abnormalities in physiology.  These are poorly understood but a recent article* reviews the latest research as it applies to fibromyalgia (FM) with likely relevance to many forms of Stress Illness.


Bringing Vision to the Blind Spot

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

The good news is that hundreds of millions of people do not have to suffer needlessly from stress illness.  The solution will take time and effort but what needs to be done is clear.


The Blind Spot (3)

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Over nine months, Linda spent 51 days in the hospital for her stress-related illness but two mental health professionals (MHPs) failed to find the cause.  Joaquin, age 16,  was ill for three months, told his doctors he suspected his pain was caused by stress and was referred to three mental health counselors who failed to find the cause.  How can this happen when the issues underlying most cases of stress illness are well known to MHPs?


The Blind Spot (2)

Friday, November 13th, 2009

If you developed episodes of chest pain accompanied by shortness of breath, would you call a psychiatrist about it?  Of course not, but therein lies another side of the mind-body blind spot in our health care system.  In most people who visit a primary care clinician for physical symptoms,  the cause is one or more psychosocial stresses entirely appropriate for mental health professionals to manage.  Of course it is essential for symptoms to be evaluated by a medical professional first.  Ideally though, once medical disease is excluded as a cause of a symptom, patients would be evaluated by a clinician with mental health skills who could then uncover any links to stress.  Unfortunately, several problems prevent this from happening in most cases: (more…)

The Blind Spot (1)

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

How could a doctor order diagnostic tests for nine months on a patient with abdominal pain, but not once ask her about stress?  During my first visit with this patient I learned she suffered punches and slaps from her partner up to 2-3 times per week.  These episodes occurred with little warning, causing her home to resemble a mine field.  With the help of a social worker she moved into a new apartment and her painful physical symptoms ended within a week.


Why This Blog.

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Ellen should have been outraged.  Instead she felt only relief.  During sixty hospital stays at a university, her doctors inexcusably failed to find the major life stress that was responsible for her illness.  It wasn’t difficult to link her symptoms directly to lifelong emotional abuse by her mother.  In Ellen’s case, bringing the impact of the abuse into conscious awareness was sufficient to cure her physical ailment.  I was appalled that she suffered needlessly for fifteen years.