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Patients and caregivers

The Mind and Body Connection

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What happens when a physical problem stems from a psychological one, or vice versa? It can take a while before the cause is recognized and proper treatment begins.

Psychiatric Times found that 47 medical illnesses, ranging from cardiac arrhythmias to pancreatic cancer, can first present themselves as anxiety, and 30 different medications can cause anxiety.

This finding is paramount for doctors with patients who are seeking treatment for anxiety or depression. The patient may have an underlying physical condition that needs to be addressed, which could resolve the emotional symptoms.

To effectively help their patients, doctors must be able to recognize an emotional issue and discern if it is manifesting physically. Likewise, it’s critical for doctors to address the emotional components of a physical disease to help patients heal.

“Keep in mind that human beings are not divided into two different organisms: a physical one and an emotional one. Mind and body are a single construct with two-way communication, and what happens in the body below the head can — and often does — affect the brain and vice versa.”

Individuals suffering from anxiety may develop a series of physical ailments, like muscle pain, fatigue, headaches and shortness of breath. Nearly one-third of people with an anxiety disorder are never treated for it.

For example, in 1996 the Montreal Heart Institute reported that about a quarter of their 441 patients who came into the emergency room due to chest pain were actually suffering from a panic disorder, not a heart issue.

What happens to the body may affect the brain and vice versa. Learn more from The New York Times about how physical and psychological symptoms are connected.

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