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When a condition is psychosomatic, that means that it involves both the mind and the body. A psychosomatic illness originates with emotional stress or damaging thought patterns, and progresses with physical symptoms, usually when a person's immune system is compromised due to stress. A common misconception is that a psychosomatic condition is imaginary, or "all in someone's mind". Actually, the physical symptoms of psychosomatic conditions are real, and should be treated quickly, as with any other illness.

Psychosomatic disorders can generally develop when a stressful life event occurs, when someone experiences chronic stress, or when negative and self-sabotaging thought patterns persist over many years.

Different people may be affected in various ways by the same stressors. For example, one person may be particularly vulnerable to cardiac events and respond to a major stressor with heart disease. Another person may be susceptible to high blood pressure and respond to the same major event with a stroke. A third person may not get sick at all from the same event. It's not always easy to predict how stress will affect a person's health, but it's known that stress does affect a person's health and, therefore, it's important to practice regular stress management techniques.

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