Psychotherapy isn’t just for mental health issues anymore. Often referred to as “talk therapy”, this treatment has a broad range of health benefits beyond just your thoughts.
Psychotherapy isn’t just “talking about your problems”, but also helps you find solutions. These solutions can go beyond functioning in everyday life.
Talk therapy can be beneficial in managing symptoms by developing coping skills to combat stress, anxiety and depression that often accompany many health conditions. And in some cases, exacerbate them too.
Stress is an innate survival mechanism that causes numerous physical changes to occur caused by an adrenalin surge, elevated circulating cortisol and neurotransmitter level changes. Whenever this response is not given the opportunity to recover, you may experience numerous physical health consequences like:
All of which can cause generally poor physical health or cause further detriment to an unrelated health condition. Psychotherapy can benefit your physical health by helping you limit your stress response occurrence rate and magnitude, as well as focusing on skills that allow for recovery.
In the past, talk therapy was primarily used to treat mental health problems such as:
- panic disorder
- bipolar disorder
- psychotic disorders
- personality disorders
- addictions ~ alcohol, drugs
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
- eating disorders ~ anorexia, bulimia
And for some, psychotherapy can be as effective as antidepressants.
Today, psychotherapy is complimentary treatment for certain physical health conditions as well, for instance:
- weight gain
- chronic pain
- referred pain
- panic attacks
- insulin resistance
- digestive disorders
- erectile dysfunction
- bladder dysfunction
- nightmares, night terrors
- irritable bowel syndrome
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- paralysis ~ spinal injury, brain injury
Talk therapy also has benefits when dealing with major life stresses even though your physical or mental health is not at issue, like death, divorce, etc.
There’s more than one version of talk therapy and your therapist may use a combination of these approaches:
- behavioral therapy ~ focus on actions
- cognitive therapy ~ focus on thoughts
- interpersonal therapy ~ focus on relationships
Which psychotherapy type or combo benefits your physical health depends on your particular situation.