Tag Archives: headaches

#20 “A rose by any other name…”: The importance of the name of an illness

Naming an illness can be one of the most critical aspects of caring for someone, especially if the illness falls into the category of stress-related illnesses.  It is a universal truth that anyone with medical symptoms wants and in fact, needs to know what is causing it.  So often in modern medicine, our answer is “We don’t know.”  We don’t know why some people get cancer and others don’t.  Many people with heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels and no obvious risk factors for heart disease.

For stress related illnesses, such as migraine and tension headaches, fibromyalgia, TMJ syndrome, irritable bowel and bladder syndromes, fatigue, and most people with chronic neck and back pain, it is absolutely critical to be able to name the illness correctly.  Doctors who are unfamiliar with the powerful role the mind has in being able to produce significant and sometimes severe physical symptoms will always label the illness as a purely physical one.  Hence, we see the proliferation of illnesses named as a syndrome or with a description that doesn’t help the person understand the true underlying cause of the illness.  Fibromyalgia is a good example of a severe syndrome who’s name literally means “pain in muscles and tendons.”  Unfortunately, people with this disorder already know that they have pain.  The name helps to legitimize the disorder, but it doesn’t help to solve the problem of helping them get rid of their pain.  In fact, the name can become a prison of sorts and can give them the impression that they will always be in pain, because the medication and physical therapies usually do not work. 

Therefore, for stress-related illnesses in which there is no tissue destruction in the body (e.g. not cancer, or stroke, or heart disease, or diabetes, or lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis), it can be extremely helpful to learn that one actually has a mind body issue, which Dr. Sarno terms Tension Myositis Syndrome, while I tend to use the term, Mind Body Syndrome.  These terms mean the same thing; that the symptoms are caused by reactions in the body to stress and emotions, which can be both conscious and/or subconscious.  The reason I don’t use TMS as often is that it implies some inflammation in the muscles (the definition of myositis), and there is no inflammation in the muscles in TMS/MBS.  Dr. Sarno has started to use the term, Tension Myoneural Syndrome more recently, which keeps the same letters of TMS, but takes out the inflammation reference.   Continue reading

MBS Blog #18–The role of triggers

The role of triggers: Holidays and headaches

As the holiday season approaches, I am reminded of the importance of things that trigger MBS symptoms.  I once heard a description of families during the holidays as being, “just the way they are, only more so.”  It is quite obvious that certain events and times of the year can cause stress that is clearly recognized by our conscious minds, for example, “I have so many things to do that I can’t find a moment to relax.”  However, it is also important to realize that stress is often not recognized, and we would call that subconscious stress.  “It seems like I always get sick this time of year, but I don’t know why?”  Symptoms that occur at times like this may be caused by underlying feelings about certain family events, or missing certain family members who are not present, or stressful memories that are associated with the holiday season. 

I see this all the time in my MBS practice.  In fact, one of the most important aspects of successful MBS treatment is the ability of the person with MBS to recognize which triggers are commonly associated with their symptoms, to understand that these triggers are not actually causing the symptoms in a physical sense (more about this point in a moment), and to have the courage to actively overcome these triggers. 

What is the definition of a trigger?   Continue reading

Mindfulness and the Mind Body syndrome

MBS Blog —  #9 Mindfulness Meditation

 

I have been a devoted and passionate teacher of mindfulness meditation for about 15 years.  Many people have misconceptions about meditation.  The most common misperception is that meditation is about relaxing.  Of course, meditation may be relaxing at times, but not always and the intent is not relaxation, but obtaining a better understanding of yourself, and learning to respond to body sensations and thoughts/emotions more deliberately, and learning to live fully in the moments of our lives.  Mindfulness meditation is a form of meditation that asks people to simply pay very close attention to the here and now, to the present moment, to what is happening right now, whatever that may be.  One of the great things about mindfulness is that one can practice it at any moment, no mater what you are doing or what is going on.  That makes it quite useful as a way to cope with the ups and downs of life.

 

The reason to learn mindfulness meditation techniques for people with Mind Body syndrome is that it can help a great deal in learning to live fully in the present and to learn to let go of some of the things that tend to perpetuate MBS, such as fear, anxiety, sadness, issues from the past, or worries about the future. 

  Continue reading