We have all experienced the ways in which our bodies and minds influence each other.
A painful leg – hurts less when you are engrossed in a good book or glued to World Cup broadcasts.
When your husband is doing reserve duty, you are a superwoman who gets everything done; but the moment he returns, the price paid by your immune system becomes evident, and you “crash” with a virus or strep throat.
People with serious illness live far longer than predicted when they have a goal (“I am going to be at my daughter’s wedding!”) or when they participate in support groups.
Sometimes, physical symptoms are the first signals of emotional distress.
High blood pressure or digestive problems “speak” about the overcompetitiveness and long hours of the high-tech world. More than anything else, weakened immune systems that lead to 20% more illnesses tell us about the unending stress of populations under rocket-fire.
Sometimes, psychological issues obstruct health-promoting behavior.
For example, some people with diabetes or heart conditions do not comply with medical advice, because they are in denial about the dangers of their illness and about the great importance of life-style changes.
The mind-body connection can even influence your marriage (during fertility treatments, for example) and other family relationships.
As a member of the first graduating class of Tel Aviv University’s Medical Psychology Diplomate Program, I am able to listen for, and focus on, mind-body issues:
• lowering tension
• personal and family coping with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart conditions and cancer
• psychosomatic problems
• fertility issues