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These findings suggest that we need to look carefully for other conditions that are also likely to be stress induced.
Many patients with medically unexplained symptoms and functional somatic syndromes carry the physiological effects of sustained psychosocial stress, hypothalamo-pituitary axis disturbance affecting cortisol regulation, sympathetic/parasympathetic imbalance, and immune competence are compromised. Many find difficulty in releasing their symptoms whilst showing evidence of inner distress, associated with a persistent behavioural responses, embedded in primitive fight, flight, freeze and fold responses (3). Martinez-Martinez showed that 70% of people with conditions as diverse as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel and interstitial cystitis showed sympathetic nervous system dysfunction (1).Torres-Harding and colleagues confirmed the associations between basal salivary cortisol and illness symptomatology in chronic fatigue syndrome (2).
Perhaps modern medicine needs stress measurement laboratories to assess the physiological state of clients with potential stress-related conditions? Focus then moves to help the client to reverse the signals of increased physiological arousal, confirmed by measurement, and is in the foreground of clinical need.
1. Martínez-Martínez, LA, Mora T, Vargas A, Fuentes-Iniestra M, & Martínez-Lavín M. Sympathetic nervous system dysfunction in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and interstitial cystitis: a review of case-control studies. Journal of Clinical Rheumatology 2014; 20(3): 146-150
2. Torres-Harding S, Sorenson M & Brown M. The associations between basal salivary cortisol and illness symptomatology in chronic fatigue syndrome. J Appl Biobehav Res 2008; 13: 157-180
3. Rief W, Shaw R & Fichter M. Elevated Levels of Psychophysiological Arousal and Cortisol in Patients With Somatization Syndrome. Psychosomatic Medicine 1998; 60(2): 198-203