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Common PPD Questions and Answers:

Q: What is a Psychophysiologic Disorder (PPD)?
A: PPD consists of symptoms that are not caused by tissue or structural damage in the body.  The symptoms of PPD can be quite varied and may include pain, insomnia, fatigue, or symptoms of the gastrointestinal or urinary systems.  Recent research has shown that emotions play a much larger role in the experience of pain than previously thought.  PPD can develop as a consequence of past or current life stressors. It is reversible when recognized and treated appropriately.

Q: Could I have PPD even though I don’t have much stress in my life?
A: Often we experience stress without realizing it. For example, being a perfectionist, putting pressure on yourself, or putting others’ needs ahead of your own can generate more stress than may be immediately apparent.

Q: How are PPD symptoms generated?
A:  The symptoms of PPD are very real and due to nerve pathways that originate in the brain and affect the body.  It is well known that one may develop physical symptoms during times of stress.  PPD is an extension of this normal phenomenon that frequently leads to chronic symptoms as the nerve pathways become continuously or intermittently activated.

Q:  I have a tremendous amount of back pain and my doctors told me that I have degenerated discs and a bulging disc.  How can I have PPD when I have these problems in my back?
A:  Research has clearly shown that many people, whether they have back pain or not, have disc bulges, disc herniations, or disc degeneration. In other words, these “abnormalities” reflect the normal aging process.  In such situations, these findings are often not the source of pain.  Thousands of people have eliminated their back pain despite the findings on their MRIs.

Q: Can irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome be Psychophysiologic Disorders?
A: These conditions (and many others) result from a change in function of the body rather than an abnormal structure or organ.  PPD is often a significant factor in these conditions.  (If you are uncertain about your own illness, ask your physician if you might benefit from an evaluation of stress in your life.)

Q: How common is it for stress to cause physical symptoms?
A: Studies have shown that over one third of the patients seen by primary care doctors have  pain or other symptoms caused by stress.

Q: Are PPD symptoms real or imaginary?
A: The symptoms are real and can be just as severe as those from any other disease.  Some patients with PPD are ill enough to be hospitalized.

Q: Is good treatment available for PPD?
A: Once PPD is recognized, treatment is available and often effective in alleviating symptoms.