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Psychosomatic medicine deals with physical disorders that are also called psychophysiologic disorders, or somatoform disorders. An illness may be considered psychosomatic when it seems to result from strong emotional conditions such as anxiety, trauma, depression, anger or guilt, rather than a physical cause. A physician who specializes in psychosomatic medicine will first test the patient to rule out physical causes. A psychosomatic illness will often respond to pain medication or other medical help, but psychological assessment is required to find the underlying cause of the illness. Some psychosomatic illnesses are irritable bowel syndrome, upset stomach, muscle aches, tension headaches, panic attacks, colitis and ulcers, and even infertility. Psychological stress can reduce the effectiveness of the immune system and lower energy levels, allowing the body to create or worsen physical diseases. The way a person handles stress often affects the severity of psychosomatic illnesses.
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