Functional Medical Problems

Your symptoms are not “all in your head”. Functional medical problems are real physiological symptoms—aches, pains, discomfort, muscle tension, or dysfunction in some part of your body—that do not have a clear-cut cause and therefore do not have a sure-fire cure. Whereas physicians are able to detect and localize dysfunction in the body when it comes to organic problems, functional problems are typically diagnosed when there is no evidence for organic dysfunction. Even if you are not able to pinpoint a clear cause for your symptoms, you can heal.

Psychotherapy is often recommended to help people to be able to manage their symptoms and cope with the difficulty of living with symptoms. In addition, the right kind of psychotherapy can actually help you to heal and recover from your physiological symptoms. Even if your physician doesn’t refer you to a psychotherapist, it is important to include some form of psychotherapy as part of your treatment plan.

Functional medical problems are complex symptoms hooked into the nervous system. By working directly with your nervous system, you will learn exactly how your individual nervous system works, how your nervous system interacts with other parts of your body, and how to regulate it. As your nervous system settles, your body will be able to heal.

People typically think of working with therapists for emotional problems, not physical problems. By the time people with functional medical problems realize that a therapist can be helpful to them, the toll of living with physical problems has led to emotional problems. In the meantime, people will exhaust their resources—time, energy, and money—trying other treatment modalities like medications, herbs, diets, supplements, reading, research, acupuncture, bodywork, energy healing, etc., that may help but don’t necessarily resolve the symptoms. In my experience, psychotherapy is something people seek to avoid or wait to start until they reach some point of desperation.

If you have a functional medical problem, then consider trying psychotherapy now. Even without a diagnosable psychological problem like depression, anxiety, or PTSD, psychotherapy can help you to heal your body. Please visit Don’t Hate Your Guts to learn more about how psychology matters when it comes to functional medical problems.