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Conditions: Physical Health Conditions/Mind and Body

Our physical and mental health are very closely linked. Long-term physical conditions refer to conditions that cannot be cured but can be managed with medication or other treatments.

They are also known as “chronic” conditions and include conditions such as diabetes, asthma, arthritis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Having a long-term health condition can be frustrating or worrying at times. It is very common for health conditions to affect how you feel and vice versa -for your mood to affect your health condition. This can lead to feeling stressed, low, anxious, or worried. You may find that having a long-term physical condition affects many areas of your life, including your relationships, your ability to work, your finances and your overall wellbeing. Having a long-term physical condition can lead to social isolation, low self-esteem, stigma, and discrimination. You may feel tired, frustrated, worried, or stressed, especially when dealing with pains and aches, tests, treatments, or flare ups.

However, being diagnosed with any physical health condition, even those that can be cured, and you can recover from, can at times cause great deal of distress, worry and anxiety.

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Are your difficulties linked to anything specific?

Chronic Pain - Chronic pain is long standing pain that persists beyond the usual recovery period or occurs along with a chronic health condition, such as arthritis. Chronic pain may be on-and-off or continuous. It may affect people to the point that they struggle to function at work, eat properly, take part in physical activity, or enjoy life in general.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) - CFS is a long-term illness with a wide range of symptoms. The most common symptom is extreme tiredness and feeling generally unwell. CFS is also known as ME, which stands for “myalgic encephalomyelitis”. Many people refer to the condition as CFS/ME. If you have CFS/ME, you may also experience other symptoms, including, sleep problems, muscle or joint pain, headaches, a sore throat, or sore glands that are not swollen, problems thinking, remembering, or concentrating, flu-like symptoms, feeling dizzy or sick and heart palpitations. Suggested causes or triggers for CFS are complex and may include an interplay between physiological and psychological factors, including viral and bacterial infections, emotional trauma, and genetics.

 Fibromyalgia (FMS) - FMS is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. However, if you have fibromyalgia, you may experience other debilitating symptoms such as: fatigue, increased sensitivity to pain, muscle stiffness, difficulty sleeping, so called "fibro-fog" (problems with memory and concentration), headaches and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In many cases, the condition appears to be triggered by a physically or emotionally stressful event(s).

Medically Unexplained Symptoms /Psychosomatic Disorders - Persistent physical complaints and symptoms, such as dizziness or pain for example, that do not seem to be related to any medical condition is often referred to as medically unexplained symptoms. In such cases, medical professionals are unable to identify the cause. This, however, does not mean that the symptoms are ‘all in your head’; they are real and, as a result, they can impede your ability to function properly. Confusion and not understanding the reasons and causes may make the experience even more distressing and challenging to cope with. Common medically unexplained symptoms include pains in the chest, muscles, joints or back, headaches, tiredness, and fatigue, feeling faint, heart palpitations or stomach problems. Having medically explained symptoms is common; it is believed that about 1 in 4 people who see a GP have physical symptoms that cannot be explained. Your symptoms may be part of a poorly understood syndrome (such as IBS or CFS) but it is not unusual for doctors to not be able to identify the cause, but this does not mean that nothing can be done to help you. Treating an associated psychological problem can often relieve the physical symptoms.

 PMS or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) - PMDD is a hormone related disorder and is commonly defined as an “endocrine disorder” however, it is not only associated with physical symptoms but also with a range of different mental health symptoms such as depression, suicidal feelings, and anxiety (for these reasons, it is regarded as a mental health problem). Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that tends to occur every month during the week or two before your menstrual cycle.

Research has shown that, in some cases, PMDD may be linked to genetics as well as stressful and traumatic past events, such as emotional or physical abuse. Stress may also make your PMDD symptoms worse. Smoking can also exacerbate the symptoms.

PMDD is often associated with the following emotional difficulties:

  • mood swings

  • feeling upset or tearful

  • lack of energy

  • having less interest in activities you normally enjoy

  • feeling hopeless and/or suicidal

  • anger and irritability

  • feeling anxious, tense, or on edge

  • feeling overwhelmed or out of control

  • difficulty concentrating


PMDD is often associated with the following physical and behavioural difficulties:

  • breast tenderness or swelling

  • pain in your muscles and joints

  • headaches

  • feeling bloated

  • changes in your appetite, such as overeating or having specific food cravings

  • sleep problems

  • increased conflict with people around you

  • becoming very upset if you feel that others are rejecting you

Treatment recommendations

Talking to a counsellor or therapist may help you manage your symptoms better or acknowledge the reality of your condition if you’re finding it hard to accept, for example. Therapy can also help with pain management and can assist in feeling more in control even if your level of pain doesn’t change. The selected treatment would be individually tailored to your needs following a comprehensive assessment process in our service.

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