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How a psychologist can help you with a physical health problem

How a psychologist can help you with a physical health problem

Absolutely your physical health can affect your mental health I think when we step back and think about this it makes absolute sense that a patient who is suffering or adjusting to a long-term condition is going to be affected emotionally as well and we can lose sight of that when we get quite clinical and we we narrow down and try and fix discrete problems for patients but it's really important to keep quality of life in mind and that's why looking after people's psychological health is really very important luckily I'm part of the very forwards looking clinic at the London cardiovascular clinic who really recognized this that the quality of life is really important and that patients need their psychological health to be supported at all aspects of their health journey.

For example, before diagnosis we often need to need some support with the anxiety that comes up with the fear of of what might be around the corner and to manage that well a lot of symptoms can be made a lot worse by anxiety as well so perhaps if we're experiencing palpitations or dizziness or even pain if we're very anxious that can really amplify them and make things worse as well and there's a lot of adjustment that needs to happen once we have a diagnosis and we're learning to live with a long-term condition because it's very important to realize that we can still live life well and and how to achieve that so looking after relationships making sure that we still keep doing things that we love and that we're passionate about are really important but to get there sometimes we do need the help of a professional as well so I really look forward to a time when actually a psychologist working alongside.

A physical health care team is is routine and that really helps us keep patients quality of life at the center of care [Music] at a very simple level and I think our emotional health affects our physical health because if we feel more optimistic and resilient we can really step up and take control of our condition and we do know that patients who feel in control and have an understanding of their physical health condition really do do better as a result in terms of third the biology and the physiology of what's happening we're only really beginning to understand this whole area but we know for example from the placebo effect the fact that our body can respond to to dummy pills or to to intervention which is imaginary if you like that our body really does have a capacity to heal itself we also know for example that that even quite inexperienced meditators in effect their blood pressure their heart rates their blood glucose levels and amazingly even their survival rates after cancer as a result of meditating and pulling in the power of all the feel-good chemicals that come with the the parasympathetic nervous system that cascade of feel-good chemicals that come when we're really relaxed so there are a lot of ways that we're only beginning to understand around the physiology of all of this and I think it's also really important that we're learning a lot about how social connection is very important as well for affecting our physical health being part of a team or feeling supported.

It seems can have a strong and effect on our health outcomes in terms of them of how long we're likely to live as in some cases smoking or obesity so there's a lot we're understanding about our psychology and our relationships and the really strong impact that that has on our physical health [Music] there are many ways that a clinical psychologist can help with a physical health problem often by the time patients come to see me they've been given a wealth of different advice and information and it can feel a little bit overwhelming so often a really important part of the work I do is having the time to sit down and pull all those strands of advice together and to help patients make the lifestyle and cognitive changes that they need to make to really be looking after themselves well there's also really important work to helping patients to adjust to a new identity and to live well with a diagnosis and with the struggles the daily struggles that come from living with long term conditions it's really important to make it very clear that life doesn't have to be miserable or compromised.

But there are many ways that we can still live a really valuable and positive life and still do the things that really matter to us whether that's spending time with friends and family and adjusting those interests and passions so that they're achievable even with the compromises we need to make so adjusting exercise in a way that's workable spending time with friends in a way that we can still achieve is very important to maintaining quality of life and living a meaningful and vital and joyous life there's an awful lot that I want to achieve in a first session and very importantly a lot of the patients I work with haven't seen a psychologist before so there's some important work to do to demystify the whole approach and to make it really clear that really we're here as a team to work together to identify what you're struggling with at the moment and how we can move towards helping you live the life that you really want to live often by the time patients come and see me.

They've seen a lot of other professionals and consultants and they've had to tell this story many times and that can be a little bit frustrating so while it's really important for me to hear directly from from the patient what it is that they want to achieve and what they're struggling with and what our goals are going to be I also think it's really important to spend some time really working on a plan helping a patient have a sense of where it is they want to go and what they want to achieve and to leave the room with a few new tools to try out a few strategies to put into place so that when we meet the second time we can already start to talk about what's working and what isn't.