WHAT ARE 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, they are not imaginary, and your body can heal from them.
Your symptoms are not “all in your head”.
It may be extremely disappointing and frustrating to be diagnosed with a functional medical problem without having a medication or surgery that can definitively rid you of your symptoms for good, but it is actually good news that your body is structurally sound and demonstrating that you are free of any life-threatening disease.
I have had both personal experience of recovering from a functional medical problem and very specialized professional experience in working with people who have functional problems of all kinds. Just below is a list of those issues with which I’ve had experience treating. If your medical problem is not on the list, then please contact me to let me know about your physical problem. If it’s functional, I should be able to help.
- Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)
- Arrhythmia Eye Twitches
- Interstitial Cystitis
- Frequency/Urgency with urination
- Chronic back pain
- Chronic pain
- Abdominal migraines
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Chronic (Psychogenic) Cough
Psychotherapy is generally recommended to help people to be able to manage their symptoms and cope with the difficulty of living with physiological symptoms. These symptoms can put a major dent in your emotional and social life despite your best effort for it not to. Click here to learn more about the difficulty of living with a functional medical problem.
Psychology matters because 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 and how to regulate it so that your body can settle and heal. This kind of therapy is not known to be a quick-fix, but it is more beneficial to your whole body over the long term. As you heal, you will learn what you need to know about your own body so that in the future you can prevent physiological and psychological problems and facilitate your own healing should you encounter symptoms.
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 not 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 starting psychotherapy now. Even without a diagnosable psychological problem like depression, anxiety, or PTSD, it is important if not critical to work directly with your nervous system in order to heal.