Can you imagine a life so filled with physical pain that day-to-day functions seemed impossible? What if this pain continued for years and medical intervention was unable to provide any type of relief?
Unfortunately, for many people, this is the reality of their lives. Severe chronic pain and illness can limit your ability to perform job functions, care for your loved ones, and can even make sitting, standing, and moving feel like torture.
When medical intervention has failed, we must examine the possibility of other causes. Physicians have begun to recognize the inherent connection between mental distress and physical pain. Dr. John Sarno, a pioneer in his industry, has been studying the mind-body connection and has coined the term Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS). This refers to a chronic physical pain that is not connected to a physical disorder or deformity.
TMS occurs when the mind reaches such a state of stress that the autonomic nervous system reacts by decreasing blood flow to the body. This causes the muscles, tendons, and nerves to be deprived of oxygen and often results in physical pain that is severe enough to distract the mind from dealing with the issue at hand.
Although the physical ailments stem from mental stress, it should not be assumed that the symptoms are all in the patient’s mind. The physical pain and discomfort are very real. Some of the most common issues caused by a distressed mental state are:
1. Migraine headaches
2. Chronic back pain or sciatica
4. Chronic fatigue
5. Colitis and gastrointestinal disorders
6. Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
7. Carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis
8. Allergies and asthma
9. Skin disorders
Patients have often tried all types of medical and alternative treatments including prescription medications, physical therapy, acupuncture, herbal treatments, massage, and even surgery. These remedies have either failed to provide relief or the condition subsides, only to resurface in another form. In this case, working with a professional to evaluate and alter your mental state is often the most appropriate course of action.
While anyone can suffer from a mind-body illness or disorder, there are specific personality types that are more vulnerable:
Self-Conscious – you feel inferior and incapable of accomplishing the simplest of tasks. You don’t speak up for yourself because you feel unworthy of recognition.
Fear-Driven – you always imagine the worst-case scenario and allow this fear to control your day-to-day life.
Short-Fused – you have a low tolerance for the shortcomings of others, are easily agitated and often react with excessive anger or aggression.
Perfectionists – you are a typical “Type A” personality with a need to feel in control. Your drive and ambition often cause you to take on more than you should, leaving you in a constant state of overwhelm.
People-Pleasers – you are the caretaker with a strong need to make others happy, often at the expense of your own needs.
Self-Critics – you hold yourself to an extremely high standard and have a need to always be right. You are very critical of yourself and have a fear of making mistakes.
Dependents – you typically avoid challenges, responsibility, and decision-making. You look for others to meet your needs instead of focusing within.
Stoics – you have difficulty expressing any kind of emotion and avoid the vulnerability of connecting openly with others.