Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Psychosomatic/Psychophysiologic Illness

From Wikipedia:

Psychosomatic disorder, now more commonly referred to as psychophysiologic illness, is an illness whose symptoms are caused by mental processes of the sufferer rather than immediate physiological causes. If a medical examination can find no physical or organic cause, or if an illness appears to result from emotional conditions such as anger, anxiety, depression or guilt, then it might be classified as psychosomatic.
In other words, if you get stomach pains, but doctors can’t find any physical causes for those stomach pains—an ulcer, or cancer, or a knife sticking in it—then it might be psychosomatic. Maybe it’s a manifestation of stress, for example.

Since at least… oh… I don’t know, October or November of 2006, I’ve been writing on my blog that I’ve been fighting off a cold. (I don’t write about it every day, but there have been numerous posts, I’m sure, since that timeframe, when I’ve mentioned that I’m fighting off a cold.) I now have a new theory: I think it’s psychosomatic. I don’t think I’m fighting off a cold at all; I think it’s stress-related. I think work is so stressful that it’s manifesting itself as cold-like symptoms. (Sore-ish throat; aches and pains; headaches, etc.)

The symptoms only really manifest themselves during the day, when I’m at work. And the more stressful things get, the worse the symptoms get. I don’t know why I didn’t notice the pattern before; maybe there have been times when I was at home, but thinking about work, and the symptoms appeared, and that’s why the penny didn’t drop sooner. If I’d thought about it, I was probably also thinking that I was feeling better because I was getting a chance to rest; so that would explain why I’d feel much better Sunday night than I would Friday morning. In fact, I’m sure I’ve chalked my cold symptoms up to being “run down” on numerous occasions—which, I guess, is fairly accurate, if it really is psychosomatic.

I know what some of you are thinking. And I agree.