Massage for Psychosomatic Disorders, TMS in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Ca

Tension myositis syndrome (TMS), also known as tension myoneural syndrome or mind-body syndrome is a name given by John E. Sarno to a condition he described as characterized by psychogenic musculoskeletal and nerve symptoms, most notably back pain.
The TMS diagnosis and treatment protocol are not accepted by the mainstream medical community and ” perhaps the most heinous manifestation of scientific medievalism.”

Massage for Psychosomatic Disorders, TMS in Santa Barbara, Goleta.
Massage for Psychosomatic Disorders, TMS in Santa Barbara, Goleta.

What is a Psychosomatic Disorder?

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The term “psychosomatic disorder” is mainly used to mean “a physical disease that is thought to be caused, or made worse, by mental factors.” The term is also used when mental factors cause physical symptoms but where there is no physical disease. For example, chest pain may be caused by stress and no physical disease can be found.

Some physical diseases are thought to be prone to be made worse by mental factors such as stress and anxiety. At any given time, a person’s mental state can affect the degree of severity of the physical disease. Physical symptoms that are caused by mental factors are also called somatization or somatoform disorders. These symptoms are due to the increased activity of nervous impulses sent from the brain to various parts of the body.

A number of factors may play a role in psychosomatic disorders, such as personality traits; genetic or environmental family influences; biological factors; learned behavior, and more.

The term “psychosomatic disorder” is mainly used to mean “a physical disease that is thought to be caused, or made worse, by mental factors.” … Some physical diseases are thought to be prone to be made worse by mental factors such as stress and anxiety.

Massage can help Psychosomatic Disorders and all these area’s of the body that are affected

Can psychosomatic illness be cured?

Physical diseases caused by mental factors can be treated either through medication or surgeries, but the complete cure from this condition can be achieved only when the cause for the generation of the mental stress is identified. … Psychoanalysis: This therapy is used to treat depression and anxiety disorder.

What is an example of a psychosomatic disease?

Examples include eczema, psoriasis, high blood pressure, ulcers, and heart disease. … Some people also use the term, ‘psychosomatic disorder,’ when mental factors cause physical symptoms, but where there is no physical disease. A chest pain; for example, might be caused by stress, and no physical disease is found.

Somatic symptom disorder is characterized by an extreme focus on physical symptoms — such as pain or fatigue — that cause major emotional distress and problems functioning. You may or may not have another diagnosed medical condition associated with these symptoms, but your reaction to the symptoms is not normal.

You often think the worst about your symptoms and frequently seek medical care, continuing to search for an explanation even when other serious conditions have been excluded. Health concerns may become such a central focus of your life that it’s hard to function, sometimes leading to disability.

If you have somatic symptom disorder, you may experience significant emotional and physical distress. Treatment can help ease symptoms, help you cope, and improve your quality of life.


Symptoms of somatic symptom disorder may be:

  • Specific sensations, such as pain or shortness of breath, or more general symptoms, such as fatigue or weakness
  • Unrelated to any medical cause that can be identified, or related to a medical condition such as cancer or heart disease, but more significant than what’s usually expected
  • A single symptom, multiple symptoms, or varying symptoms
  • Mild, moderate, or severe

Pain is the most common symptom, but whatever your symptoms, you have excessive thoughts, feelings or behaviors related to those symptoms, which cause significant problems, make it difficult to function and sometimes can be disabling.

These thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can include:

  • Constant worry about potential illness
  • Viewing normal physical sensations as a sign of severe physical illness
  • Fearing that symptoms are serious, even when there is no evidence
  • Thinking that physical sensations are threatening or harmful
  • Feeling that medical evaluation and treatment have not been adequate
  • Fearing that physical activity may cause damage to your body
  • Repeatedly checking your body for abnormalities
  • Frequent health care visits that don’t relieve your concerns or that make them worse
  • Being unresponsive to medical treatment or unusually sensitive to medication side effects
  • Having a more severe impairment than is usually expected from a medical condition

For somatic symptom disorder, more important than the specific physical symptoms you experience is the way you interpret and react to the symptoms and how they impact your daily life.

When to see a doctor

Because physical symptoms can be related to medical problems, it’s important to be evaluated by your primary care provider if you aren’t sure what’s causing your symptoms. If your primary care provider believes that you may have somatic symptom disorder, he or she can refer you to a mental health professional.

Caring for a loved one

When physical symptoms considered to be somatic symptom disorder occur, it can be difficult to accept that a life-threatening illness has been eliminated as the cause. Symptoms cause very real distress for the person and reassurance isn’t always helpful. Encourage your loved one to consider the possibility of a mental health referral to learn ways to cope with the reaction to symptoms and any disability it causes.

Physical disability may cause the person to be dependent and need extra physical care and emotional support that can exhaust caregivers and cause stress on families and relationships. If you feel overwhelmed by your role as a caregiver, you may want to talk to a mental health professional to address your own needs.

The word, ‘psychosomatic,’ means mind or, ‘psyche,’ and body or, ‘soma.’ A psychosomatic disorder is a disease involving both mind and body, in other words. Some physical diseases are thought to be especially prone to worsen by mental factors such as anxiety and stress. A person’s current mental state may affect how bad a physical disease is at any particular moment.

Psychosomatic Disorders: Believed to be physical diseases that have a mental component derived from the stress and strain of everyday living. Psychosomatic medicine is an interdisciplinary medical field exploring the relationships among social, psychological, and behavioral factors on bodily processes and quality of life in humans and animals.

Psychosomatic Medicine: Considered a sub-specialty of the fields of psychiatry and neurology. Medical treatments and psychotherapy are used to treat psychosomatic disorders.

Somatoform disorders: A group of mental disturbances placed in a common category on the basis of their external symptoms. These disorders are characterized by physical complaints that appear to be medical in origin but that cannot be explained in terms of a physical disease, the results of substance abuse, or another mental disorder.

Psychosomatic illnesses can be classified into three general forms.

The first form includes those who experience both a mental illness and a medical one; these illnesses complicate the symptoms and management of each other.

The second form includes those who experience a psychiatric issue that is a direct result of a medical illness or its treatment; having depression due to cancer and its treatment for example.

The third form of psychosomatic illness is, ‘somatoform,’ disorders. Somatoform disorders are psychiatric ones that are displayed through physical issues. What this means is the physical symptoms people experience are related to psychological factors instead of a medical cause. Somatoform disorders may include the following:

Somatization Disorder: A disorder in which a person experiences physical complaints such as diarrhea, headaches, premature ejaculation, or ones that do not have a physical cause.

Conversion Disorder: A disorder in which a person experiences neurological symptoms affecting their movement and senses which do not seem to have a physical cause. Symptoms may include blindness, seizures, or paralysis.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: An obsession or preoccupation with an imaginary or minor flaw such as wrinkles, small breasts, or the size or shape of another part of the person’s body. Body dysmorphic disorder causes severe anxiety and might impact a person’s ability to function as usual in their daily life.

Hypochondriasis: A fixation or obsession with the fear of having a serious form of the disease. People with hypochondriasis misconstrue usual body functions or minor symptoms as being serious or even life-threatening. A person; for example, with hypochondriasis might become convinced that they have colon cancer when experiencing temporary flatulence after consuming cabbage.

Psychosomatic Diseases

To some extent, most diseases are indeed psychosomatic; they involve a person’s body and mind. There is a mental aspect to every physical disease. The way a person reacts to and copes with disease varies widely from person to person. A rash of psoriasis; for example, might not bother some people too much. Yet the rash covering the same portions of the body in another person may make them feel depressed and sicker.

There may be physical effects from mental illness. For example; some people with mental illnesses might not take care of themselves, eat appropriately, or take care of themselves – which can cause physical issues. The term, ‘psychosomatic disorder;’ however, is mainly used to mean a physical disease that is believed to be caused, or worsened, by mental factors.

Some physical diseases are thought to be especially prone to be worsened by mental factors such as anxiety and stress. Examples include eczema, psoriasis, high blood pressure, ulcers, and heart disease. It is thought that the actual physical part of the person’s illness might be affected by mental factors; something that is hard to prove.

Many people; however, with these and other physical diseases say their current mental state can affect how bad their physical disease is at any particular time. Some people also use the term, ‘psychosomatic disorder,’ when mental factors cause physical symptoms, but where there is no physical disease. A chest pain; for example, might be caused by stress, and no physical disease is found. It is well known that the mind can cause physical symptoms. When a person is anxious or afraid; for example, they might develop:

  • Tremor
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Chest pains
  • Palpitations
  • Increased heart rate
  • A, ‘knot,’ in the stomach
  • Increased breathing rate

The physical symptoms are due to increased activity of nervous impulses sent from the person’s brain to different parts of their body, as well as to the release of adrenaline into the person’s bloodstream when they are anxious.

Causes of Somatoform Disorders

The exact way a person’s mind may cause certain additional symptoms remains unclear. How a person’s mind can affect actual physical diseases is not known with certainty. It might have something to do with nerve impulses going to the person’s body, which is not fully understood. There is some evidence the brain might have the ability to affect certain cells of the immune system, something involved in various physical diseases.

The exact cause of somatoform disorders is something that is not completely understood. Somatoform disorders are believed to be, ‘familial,’ meaning genetics might play a role. Somatoform disorders may also be triggered by strong emotions such as anxiety, trauma, grief, depression, stress, guilt or anger. People who experience somatoform disorders generally will not recognize the role these emotions play in their physical symptoms. They are not; however, intentionally producing the physical symptoms, or making up their physical issues. Their physical symptoms are real, yet are caused by psychological factors.

Women are more likely than men to experience a somatoform disorder. The symptoms often times start before the person has reached thirty years of age and persist for a number of years. The severity of the symptoms might vary from year to year, but there are rarely times when the person’s symptoms are absent.

There is currently no, ‘cure,’ for somatoform disorders. Treatment concentrates on establishing a consistent and supportive relationship between the person and their doctor. Referral to a psychiatrist may help a person with somatoform disorders to manage their symptoms. Even though treatment can be difficult, those who experience somatoform disorders can live well – even if they continue to experience symptoms.

Symptoms of Somatoform Disorders

Somatoform disorders are the major forms of psychosomatic illness. The physical symptoms of somatoform disorders are all too real, they have psychological roots instead of physical causes. The symptoms oftentimes resemble symptoms of medical illness. People who experience somatoform disorders might undergo extensive testing and medical evaluations to find out the cause of the symptoms they are experiencing. Somatoform disorders include:

  • Hypochondriasis
  • Conversion disorder
  • Somatization disorder
  • Body dysmorphic disorder

The disorders may cause difficulties in a person’s everyday life to include academic, social, and occupational issues. People who experience body dysmorphic disorder can become obsessed with what are actually minor flaws in their physical appearance, or might perceive flaws where none actually exist. Common concerns include the loss of hair, the shape, and size of bodily features such as nose, breast, or eye appearance, as well as wrinkles and weight gain. Symptoms and associated behaviors of body dysmorphic disorder can include the following:

  • Avoiding mirrors
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Avoiding being seen in public
  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Constant checking of appearance in a mirror
  • Desiring reassurance from others about the person’s appearance

Conversion Disorder Symptoms

The symptoms of conversion disorder usually look like neurological issues and can include double vision or blindness, loss of sensation, difficulties with swallowing, and impaired coordination or balance. The symptoms a person with conversion disorder may experience also include seizures, issues with urinary retention, an inability to speak, paralysis or weakness.

Symptoms of Hypochondriasis

Hypochondriasis is the condition of thinking that usual body functions or minor symptoms represent a serious medical condition. A person with hypochondriasis may interpret a headache as a brain tumor, or muscle soreness as a sign of impending paralysis. Common symptoms of hypochondriasis can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Repeated visits to a doctor until a diagnosis is made
  • Feeling that a doctor has made a mistake by not diagnosing the cause of the symptoms
  • Seeking constant reassurance from family members and friends about the symptoms they experience

Symptoms of Somatization Disorder

Somatization disorder is characterized by physical symptoms without a physical cause. Somatization disorder may have some different symptoms. These symptoms can include the following:

  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Painful intercourse
  • Painful menstruation

People with Somatoform Disorders and Indications of a Serious or Life-threatening Condition

People who experience somatoform disorders are at risk for suicidal thoughts and actions. Pursue immediate medical care if you, or a person you are with, have tried to harm or kill oneself, or have had thoughts about harming or killing oneself. People with somatoform disorders are also at risk of developing major depression. Pursue prompt medical care if you, or someone you are with, experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Persistent feelings of emptiness or sadness
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or worthlessness
  • Sleep issues such as excessive sleeping or insomnia
  • Difficulties with remembering things or concentrating
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities, including sex
  • Changes in eating habits such as loss of appetite or overeating

Treating Psychosomatic Disorders

Treating somatoform disorders, which make up most psychosomatic illnesses, may be challenging. After ruling out the physical causes of a person’s symptoms, it usually concentrates on establishing a trusting and supportive relationship between the person and their doctor. The person’s doctor will recommend regular checkups as one of the most important parts of their treatment.

The person’s doctor might refer them to a psychiatrist for assistance with managing their disorder. Psychotherapy; specifically cognitive-behavioral therapy, might be effective in relieving some of the underlying psychological factors causing the person’s physical symptoms. Learning how to manage stress in a healthy way through stress management techniques may be a part of the person’s therapy. If a specific mental disorder such as depression can be identified, treatment with medications can also help.

Symptoms of a somatoform disorder may continue, despite efforts at cognitive-behavioral therapy. When this happens, treatment can be aimed at providing symptomatic relief and helping people to live their lives. Medications might be administered to help provide relief from symptoms such as fatigue, headache, or digestive issues. Medications; however, might not be needed in all instances.

To improve the person’s disorder, while attempting to control their somatoform symptoms, can include some different things. These things include practicing stress management techniques, keeping regularly scheduled checkup appointments, and following the treatment plan the person and their doctor design for them.


A disorder of both mind and body where physical symptoms develop from mental factors.


Severe cases can grow from depression, anxiety, or stress and manifest into severe physical symptoms or diseases. Other symptoms. It can also cause smaller symptoms, like. headaches shake or chest pain.

What to do

While medical doctors should be consulted for the physical symptoms, it’s important to visit a psychiatrist/clinical psychologist to find the root of the issue and to have a therapeutic intervention.

What is a psychosomatic illness: When illness really is all in the mind?

These are conditions in which a person suffers from significant physical symptoms – causing real distress and disability – out of proportion to that which cannot be explained by medical tests or physical examination. 

The physical symptoms of somatoform disorders are real. However, they have psychological roots rather than physical causes. The symptoms often resemble symptoms of medical illnesses. Psychosomatic illnesses can be classified into four types:

1. Body dysmorphic disorder is an obsession or preoccupation with a minor or imaginary flaw, such as wrinkles, small breasts, or the shape or size of other body parts. Body dysmorphic disorder causes severe anxiety and may impact a person’s ability to function normally in daily life.

 2. Conversion disorder is a disorder in which a person experiences neurological symptoms that affect his or her movement and senses and that do not appear to have a physical cause. Symptoms can include seizures, blindness, or paralysis. 

3. Hypochondriasis is an obsession or fixation with the fear of having a serious disease. People with hypochondriasis misconstrue normal body functions or minor symptoms as being serious or life-threatening. For example, a person with hypochondriasis may become convinced that he or she has colon cancer when having temporary flatulence after eating cabbage.

4. Somatization disorder is a disorder in which a person experiences physical complaints, such as headaches, diarrhea, or premature ejaculation that do not have a physical cause.  

What are the causes of psychosomatic symptoms?

The exact cause of the psychosomatic illness is not known. Somatoform disorders tend to run in families and may have a genetic component. Somatoform disorders may be a coping strategy, a learned behavior, or the result of a personality characteristic. In certain constitutional organic predisposing factors, in addition to the psychic factors involved, repressed psychic energy is discharged physiologically.

How is psychosomatic illness treated?

After ruling out physical causes of symptoms, it generally focuses on establishing a trusting, supportive relationship between the Client and the primary care doctor or refer to a psychiatrist for help.

Learning to manage stress in a healthy way through stress management techniques is an important part of therapy. Psychosomatic disorders resulting from stress may include hypertension, respiratory ailments, gastrointestinal disturbances, migraine and tension headaches, pelvic pain, impotence, frigidity, dermatitis, and ulcers. When this occurs, treatment can be aimed at providing symptomatic relief and helping people live normal lives. Medications can be used to help provide relief from symptoms, such as headache, fatigue, pain, and digestive problems. 

  •  Drug therapy –Anti-anxiety, anti-depressants are majorly used and prescribed by doctors.
  •  Cognitive-behavior therapy – May be effective in relieving some of the underlying psychological factors that are causing your physical symptoms. 
  •  Exercise and Yoga – Starting from a simple jog to doing pranayama are also effective in keeping the mind and body healthy.
  •  Good and healthy diet- What you eat has a direct impact on your mind’s thinking and feeling, so decide the diet.
  •  Positive thinking – To let oneself away from negativity it is mandatory to practice the art of positive thinking. 

Benefits of massage for psychosomatic disorders

Some of the general benefits of massage therapy may include:

  • Physical relaxation.
  • Improved circulation, which nourishes cells and improves waste elimination.
  • Relief for tight muscles (knots) and other aches and pains.
  • The Release of nerve compression (carpal tunnel, sciatica)
  • Greater flexibility and range of motion.

Neurochemical Benefits for Anxiety and Depression

While massage can be deeply relaxing on a purely physical level, research also indicates that it produces profound neurochemical changes that increase psychological well-being. One study published in theInternational Journal of Neuroscience found that serotonin increased an average of 28% and dopamine levels increased 31% following massage therapy. These neurological changes may explain why people with depression and anxiety who receive massage treatments report decreased symptoms. A meta-analysis of studies on massage as a treatment for depression published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that “Massage therapy is significantly associated with alleviated depressive symptoms.” Meanwhile, a pilot study on young adults in an inpatient psychiatric unit reported that, “Massage therapy had immediate beneficial effects on anxiety-related measures.”

Massage Therapy for Stress Reduction

Stress produces a host of physiological symptoms that can seriously impact both physical and psychological health. Chief among these is the elevation of cortisol, a stress hormone that can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure and weight gain, impair memory, and increase the risk for depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. The symptoms of mental health disorders themselves may also lead to increased cortisol levels, creating a cycle of chronic and perpetual stress hormone release as your brain struggles to cope with overwhelming psychological conditions. Massage can be an effective way to break through this cycle and reduce cortisol levels to bring your body back to hormonal equilibrium. According to a series of studies reviewed by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, cortisol levels fell by up to 53% among subjects “with depression or stress problems” immediately following massage therapy.

The Healing Power of Touch

Human touch is essential to our sense of well-being, as starkly demonstrated in Harlow’s infamous monkey experiments. Far from simply being an arbitrarily pleasurable sensory experience, skin-on-skin contact with other human beings is critical to not only early childhood development but to maintaining emotional and social wellness throughout our lives. One particularly remarkable benefit of human touch is its ability to induce oxytocin release. Oxytocin, also known as the love or bonding hormone, imbues us with a sense of belonging, stability, trust, and enhanced sociability. Research has found that the hormone can decrease social anxiety, depression, and stress, while increasing empathy, generosity, self-esteem, and optimism, and alleviating psychological distress. Oxytocin has even been found to reduce fear in people with PTSD and improve responsiveness to treatment.

Strengthening the Mind-Body Connection

As a therapeutic practice that centers on the body, massage therapy inherently involves an exploration of somatic responses. For many, this can be a deeply beneficial practice in which you are afforded the time to listen to your body, pay attention to its sensations, investigate the relationship between emotional and somatic states, and honor what your physical self is experiencing. People who experience psychological conditions that disrupt their own sense of connection to their bodies can find massage therapy to be particularly helpful to establish a more positive understanding of their physicality. For example, a group of German researchers noted that “body-oriented therapy is worthy of consideration as a method for giving schizophrenics patients a greater awareness of their own bodily limits.” Others who may have difficult or disordered relationships with their bodies as the result of trauma or eating disorders often find that massage therapy offers a safe and supportive way of healing and creating a healthier relationship with their physical selves while increasing bodily awareness.

Therapeutic Swedish Massage, Sports Massage Therapy in Santa Barbara, Goleta

*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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