Psychophysiological Illness

Pscyhophysiological illness, also known as psychosomatic illness or psychogenic illness, refers to a condition in which psychological factors cause or contribute to physical symptoms or diseases.


Psychophysiological illness is characterized by the interaction between the mind and body, where emotional and psychological factors can trigger or worsen physical symptoms. These conditions are not solely caused by physical factors, but are influenced by the individual’s mental and emotional state.

Causes and Contributing Factors

Psychophysiological illnesses can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Stress and Emotional Distress: Chronic stress, anxiety, depression, and other psychological factors can lead to the development or exacerbation of physical symptoms or diseases.
  • Personality Traits: Certain personality traits, such as perfectionism or a tendency towards excessive worry, may increase the risk of psychophysiological illness.
  • Psychological Trauma: Past traumatic events or unresolved emotional issues can manifest as physical symptoms.
  • Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms: Maladaptive coping strategies, such as excessive alcohol or drug use, may contribute to psychophysiological conditions.

Examples of Psychophysiological Illnesses

Psychophysiological illnesses can present in various forms, such as:

  • Migraines and Headaches: Emotional stress is a common trigger for migraines and tension headaches.
  • Psychogenic Pain: Severe pain without a clear physical cause, often associated with psychological distress.
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders: Conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be influenced by stress and emotional factors.
  • Hypertension: Long-term stress and anxiety may contribute to high blood pressure.
  • Respiratory Issues: Asthma and other respiratory conditions can be aggravated by emotional factors.

Treatment and Management

Effective treatment of psychophysiological illnesses often involves a multidisciplinary approach, addressing both the psychological and physical aspects. It may include:

  • Psychotherapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), relaxation techniques, and stress management strategies can help individuals address underlying psychological factors.
  • Medication: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to manage physical symptoms or alleviate associated psychological conditions.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Adopting healthy lifestyle habits, such as regular exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep, can improve overall well-being.
  • Supportive Interventions: Support groups, mindfulness practices, and complementary therapies like acupuncture or yoga may provide additional benefits.