Psychosomatic and stress-related conditions

Stress-related or Psychosomatic disorders are those conditions, involving or including physical symptoms, which are considered to have multiple causes and are not caused purely by “pathology”: tissue damage, infection or bacterial/ viral invasion. These conditions are thought to be caused by a complex interaction of physical, psychological, social and environmental factors all interacting with each other to affect health. The terms Stress-related and Psychosomatic, have most relevance for orthodox western medicine, which separates us into two aspects; our body and our mind, and tries therefore to treat the body in isolation. However these terms are less useful to other alternative or complementary approaches which instead offer a “holistic” approach – that is, they consider the “whole person” and his/her overall health and functioning, acknowledging our state of happiness and well-being and our life circumstances or situation have profound effects on our health. In addition there is some disagreement over which disorders can be termed psychosomatic as it is accepted that ‘psychological factors’ are important in all illness, including “physical” conditions such as heart attacks and high blood pressure, being known to influence the development and course of an illness or disease. Whilst the term “psychosomatic” was considered almost derogatory in the past , leading to assumptions or suggestions that symptoms were ‘all in your head’, scientific research now acknowledges the effect of mind-body interactions and a new term “psycho-physiological” is increasingly used. This new term recognises that the mind and body interact with measurable physiological effects. ( Read more about Psychosomatic)

This holistic view of illness or disease has existed in eastern medicine for thousands of years and western science increasingly finds scientific evidence which supports this holistic view: Studies clearly show the effect of “stress” in depressing the immune system – the body system which protects us from developing infection or illness – and a famous study also shows how the mind can trigger chemical and physical changes in the body. This approach accepts the inter-connectedness of mind and body – that is, the mind affects the body and vice versa- and is therefore called mind-body medicine.

This evidence supports the basis and the effectiveness of hypnosis in affecting bodily states and disorders. Hypnosis has been used successfully for IBS and many other mind-body illnesses (See Effectiveness of Hypnosis for IBS , Hypnosis strengthens immune system)

Some Psychosomatic/Stress-related conditions:


  • Heart problems
  • High Blood pressure
  • Gastro-intestinal problems: IBS, IBD (Crohn’s disease) acid reflux
  • Asthma
  • Skin conditions: psoriasis, eczema
  • Migraine, Tension headaches
  • Gynaecological problems
  • Pain: chest pain, muscle pain, abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Meuniere’s disease

Mind and Emotions

  • Appetite problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Phobias
  • Stage fright
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness

NB: If you think you may have a psychosomatic or stress-related disorder you should see your GP. Hypnosis should not be used as an alternative to medical assessment but can be successfully combined with it.