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  • Writer's picturestamatelospsychologist

What can health psychology offer me?

Updated: Dec 15, 2022

Psychology is connected and is part of our overall health. In more detail, our psychology (ie thoughts, beliefs, expectations, implicit memory, attention, perception, information processing, etc.) interact with the autonomic nervous system of our body, which is divided into nice / parasympathetic. The autonomic nervous system activates those mechanisms that prepare us either to be activated or otherwise to relax.

The autonomic nervous system controls vital visceral functions through the sympathetic ganglia. Therefore, the change in our psychology which is directly related to the autonomic nervous system of our body, has a direct effect on the function of our physiology (heart rate, respiratory function, metabolism, cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal reflex system, immune system, endocrine system, etc.).

Prolonged stress, like acute stress, is connected to the endocrine system / immune system / lymphatic system of our body, through its communication with a cluster of brain areas, which are activated in frequent and prolonged stress.

The above interaction of the brain with the hormonal system (through the production of corticosteroids, namely cortisol) has the effect of altering the immune and inflammatory reactions, through the activation of cytokines as immunoregulators.

Furthermore, the activation of the sympathetic nervous system in acute stress, stimulates the secretion of catecholamines (adrenaline, epinephrine, etc.). All this sequence has effects on our body, which either promote or degenerate our overall health. In the case of prolonged stress, the effects are corrosive to our body in the long run.

In short, and simply, the above procedures have been proven through various studies to help the normal functioning of our body, or vice versa, to degrade it.

Chronic stress and acute recurrent stress, through the reaction of the body, but also our lifestyle, affect the occurrence of chronic diseases. Which include, among others, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, malignancies, chronic metabolic disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, skin diseases, osteoporosis, etc.

Health psychology has a catalytic role, and partial responsibility, in the prevention and management of chronic diseases. Specifically, the health psychologist is trained to help the patient gain quality of life or even make it better, before the onset of major symptoms of the disease.

Moreover, the health psychologist aims to help the patient to interpret the disease with a positive sign, in order to see the disease as a part of life and as a springboard for changing priorities and excess self-love, in addition to the difficulties that people face.

Also, the patient learns to have a healthy behavior, to find those weapons that will strengthen him in the future, to change dysfunctional health beliefs, to manage stress, to improve his mental health, to learn to manage the disease, to communicate effectively set personal boundaries, manage chronic pain, and reduce the symptoms of the disease.

Health as a personal and multifaceted concept is not a given and permanent, but involves personal responsibility, effort, method, and help from health professionals.

I wish you good health!

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