How can emotional stress cause real physical symptoms?

Photo of clouds illustrates how real physical symptoms caused by emotional stress can dissipate for a pain-free life.

Dr. David Clarke explains that almost everyone has had the experience of stress-related symptoms at one time or another.

If you have ever blushed with embarrassment, ever felt a knot in your abdomen when your are in a tense situation, that’s a psychophysiological reaction, a mind-to-body reaction that produces real physical symptoms.

They are not imaginary, they are not in your head. They are real. If the level of stress is high enough or goes on for a long enough period of time, that can turn into an illness.

It can cause back pain, it can cause ringing in the ears, it can cause any kind of gastrointestinal symptom, and any pain in almost any location in the body.

Multiple symptoms

For many people that stress can typically cause multiple symptoms at more than one location at a time.

These symptoms are all real and they afflict one in six adults and one in three of everybody who goes to see a doctor for an evaluation.

These symptoms are very, very common, and can be very, very severe. Many of Dr. Clarke’s  patients have been hospitalized for their symptoms.

When the level of stress is high enough, the physical symptoms can go on for decades. One of Dr. Clarke’s patients was ill for 79 years. Another of Dr. Clarke’s patients was hospitalized was 11 straight weeks. When he was asked to see her, it was near the end of that time and she was getting enormous doses of morphine around the clock for her symptoms.

Severity of symptoms

The severity of stress-related illness symptoms can equal those of organ disease and structural abnormalities. Importantly, the number of symptoms typically exceeds what you get from organ disease or structural abnormalities.

A patient of Dr. Clarke’s listed 27 different symptoms he was suffering from. All 27 were relieved in about a month.

Despite the severity of the symptoms, Dr. Clarke says if you know what to look for then the outcomes for stress-related illness can be very good.