Does your chronic illness make you feel isolated? Depressed? Misunderstood? Do you feel you need more support? Often times people fail to understand the connection between physical health and mental health. A chronic dysfunction of the body can often lead to feelings of lost identity, being overwhelmed, anxiety, and even depression. Additionally, these unresolved feelings can dramatically affect a person’s overall health and well-being.
We Can Help You!
Here at Holtorf Medical Group, we understand the powerful impact of psychology on overall wellness and bodily function. As such, we are dedicated to providing the greatest care possible in support of better psychological health. One of the ways we do this is by offering exceptional psychotherapeutic services.
For more information on our psychotherapy services, consult with your doctor or call Andy Balazs directly at 424-417-9865
What is Psychotherapy?
Therapy is defined in its simplest form as treatment used to relive or heal a disorder. Psychotherapy simply means therapy focused on resolving psychological issues and mental disorders.
At its core, psychotherapy is about identification of and engaging with an individual’s feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. This is facilitated by trained professionals who support the patient in a personal one-on-one setting. The professionals who work in psychotherapy help individuals recognize and manage the many emotions, relationships, patterns that impact their life. Individual topics and issues that arise during these periods of self-assessment and introspection are identified and discussed in a judgment-free environment. Psychotherapists also teach and reinforce healthy methods of attending to psychological difficulties brought up during these sessions.
The outcome of psychotherapy is heavily reliant of the patient’s active engagement with and utilization of the resources provided them. As such, a patient’s willingness to investigate and share about potentially challenging topics is an important, albeit difficult, part of effective psychotherapy. But participants who are able and willing to commit to this practice are likely to experience positive change that can alleviate not only psychological issues but also improve areas of physical illness.
How Are the Psychological and the Physical Related?
Even if we are not consciously aware of them, elements of our own psychology can have a dramatic impact on overall health. Although they do not have inherently physical symptoms, emotional trauma, unresolved grief, persisting guilt, and other components of an individual’s psychology can have a very real and physical effect on bodily function. This may be best exemplified by the connection between mental health and chronic conditions.
Research suggests a close relationship between psychological issues and chronic illness. It is believed that poor mental health may contribute to the development or prompt the continuation of chronic disorders including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia
- Chronic Pain
- Lyme disease/chronic Lyme disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Various cancers
Interestingly, chronic illness may also promote the occurrence of psychological issues. Studies have found that those with chronic physical conditions are nearly twice as likely to develop anxiety, depression, or other psychological issues. The risk of developing such conditions is further increased in those who have a family history of psychological issues. Furthermore, individuals who have a chronic illness while suffering from psychological disorder at the same time tend to experience more severe symptoms of both conditions.
The close relationship between mental health and chronic conditions suggests that there are several ways in which psychological activity and chronic health issues are connected. Some of the possible factors that contribute to the mutual effect of these conditions on one another are discussed below.
Myelin is a natural bodily material that coats nerves allowing for faster transference of impulses. Although myelin is a necessary component of brain function, an inappropriate ratio of neurons and myelin can cause notable mental dysfunction. Research conducted at the University of California, Berkeley found that mental and physical stress brought on by chronic illness resulted in decreased production of neurons with an increase of myelin. It was found that this change negatively affected the hippocampus, which is a region of the brain responsible for regulating mood and is a central factor in many emotional disorders.
Researchers posit that the impact of chronic health issues on the brain, more specifically the hippocampus, partially explains why those with a chronic illness tend to develop mood disorders and mental health conditions.
Chronic illness may also result in the development of depression. It is common for patients who have suffered a recent cardiac episode or received serious diagnosis to experience some degree of depression. In fact, it is estimated that up to one third of patients with a serious medical condition develop depression. However, if psychological troubles persist for an extended time after the triggering event, it could signify that the psychological disruption has developed into a more serious long-lasting condition.
Treatment of chronic conditions may also contribute to the development of psychological dysfunction. Certain medications used to treat chronic disorders are accompanied by significant side effects that trigger symptoms such as anxiety, stress, moodiness, lack of motivation, and even depression. In some cases, optimizing the dose of a medication is enough to alleviate psychological difficulties. However, if medications are causing significant psychological distress, the treatment may need to be halted entirely and an alternative used in its place.
Although, chronic conditions are a common source of psychological dysfunction, they are certainly not a prerequisite for their development. There are many factors that are involved in the occurrence of psychological issues. Regardless of the cause, it is important to be able to identify psychological problems so appropriate care may be acquired.
How is Psychological Dysfunction Identified?
Because they have such a broad impact on bodily function, it can be difficult identifying an underlying psychological problem. However, if you experience any of the following conditions, issues, or symptoms, it is possible that an unresolved psychological issue is the cause:
- Irregularities in mood including sadness, irritability, or anxiety
- Loss of value in self, prompting feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, guilt, or emptiness
- No longer engaging in previously enjoyed hobbies or activities including sex
- Lack of motivation, fatigue, or malaise
- Difficulty thinking clearly, focusing, remembering details, or making decisions
- Sleep issues such as waking up too early, restless sleep, and difficulty falling asleep
- Changes in weight caused by loss of appetite or regularly overeating
- Thoughts of death, considerations of suicide, or attempted suicide
- Physical pains, aches, cramps, or digestive issues without a clear cause
- Increased inflammation
- Changes in heart rate, irregular blood circulation, or heart palpitations
- Erratic or abnormal levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline
- Changes in metabolism that may cause fluctuations in weight and affect factors of diabetes
Although the issues listed above are not exclusively caused by psychological dysfunction, an issue of mental wellness can contribute to their development or be the primary cause.
What Psychotherapy Services are Offered?
Holtorf Medical Group supplies exceptional psychotherapeutic services. Our goal is to help identify unhelpful patterns of thought, feelings, and behaviors that may contribute to a decline in wellness. The tools used to accomplish this include one-on-one counseling, guided exercises, teletherapy conducted online, assignments to be done at home, and more. These practices and methods incorporate self-reflection and intrapersonal evaluation, which help patients identify personal strengths, improve self-talk, create achievable and constructive goals, reduce stress, explore difficult thoughts and feelings, and attain greater mental wellness.
Psychotherapy such as that offered by HMG helps alleviate the psychological impact of chronic illness and restore mental wellness. Individuals who willingly and intentionally take part in psychotherapy often see improvement in many different areas of their life. Patients who engage fully in psychotherapy may experience many benefits including:
- Feeling emotionally supported
- Personal empowerment
- Restoration of hopefulness and positive outlook
- Greater sensitivity to and ability to identify self-destructive patterns and tendencies
- Improved interpersonal communication
- Greater resilience against pains and discomforts associated with chronic disease
- Reduced symptoms of depression and lower occurrence of depressive episodes
- Alleviation of anxiety, phobias, social anxieties, and panic attacks
- Improvement of professional, personal, and intimate relationships
- Greater self-confidence and better understanding of personal identity
- Support and guidance for creating an actionable plan regarding substance abuse and addictions
- Overall improved sense of well-being
Ready to Get Started?
Chronic illness and psychological issues have significant influence over the development and continuation of each other. These conditions are often difficult to treat and may significantly disrupt daily life. Many practitioners tasked with treating chronic illness focus primarily on resolving symptoms without giving any consideration to the possible influence of psychological dysfunction. When faced with a chronic health condition it is necessary to attend to any existing mental health issues that accompanies it. Without attending to existing psychological dysfunction, it is unlikely that a chronic condition will be fully resolved.
By utilizing the psychotherapy services offered patients can alleviate various psychological factors that may be contributing to their chronic conditions. Take the first step in restoring mental health and improving your quality of life! Call Andy Balazs directly at 424-417-9865.