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Distinguishing Between Real Symptoms and Psychosomatic Symptoms

Distinguishing between real symptoms and Psychosomatic symptoms seems challenging for some of us.

There are days, I can understand my Bipolar Disorder is affecting my daily mindset and I am being symptomatic so to speak.  Whether if it’s highlights of paranoia, a mistrust, Depression or Mania–things eventually–I think I can pick up on if I don’t miss them right away. Then I can justify them as being symptoms and move on. What if those symptoms show up as psychosomatic symptoms that are just in my head?  Things I just can’t get out of my head that is not relevant to the success of my day?  Psychosomatic symptoms are paralyzing my ability to distinguish between things I can control and things I can’t control.  Making something as simple as getting out of bed like running a marathon.

One thing I do to try to distinguish symptoms, from reality, is taking a good hard look at what’s been going on. Can I ask myself is this really me? Because I know who I am. I know who I become when I’m symptomatic. So I have to understand who really is in control. Is it the real me? Am I the one controlling my emotions right now? Or is it that din voice in me–at seventeen–wanting to tear my life apart; just for the fun of it. I can’t trust that when he comes out…nothing good comes from it.

Lately, there’s been a joining of the two. Blurring of the lines a little bit as to who is in my head.  With my lack of sleep, daily routines mixed up, am feeling a little bit like Fight Club going on.  Just don’t know what are you up to…when likely it’s just lack of sleep? Since he’s the lazy one.

In short, I believe understanding our symptoms and our triggers and our different characteristics of our personality could be the most important coping mechanism. No one’s going to know you better than you. That’s why journaling and taking specific mood notes can be very helpful to identify the Ups and the Downs, the symptoms when and where things trigger.  This is all important Vital Information for the success of our recovery. Even the simplest thing: meditating and thinking about such things have benefits.

Anyone that’s been in the Mental Health Community for any length of time, the first things we’re taught is to journal and track moods. There’s a reason why this is so important: it’s so we can understand how this diagnosis is affecting us. It’s doing our own triage.  It’s simple–yet it’s effective at identifying triggers. The up days and manic episodes and depressive episodes… while even giving us opportunities to track the length and sometimes right down to the time day of some episodes. Also, jotting down what “Positive Solutions” we may have to have an uplifting effect on that particular mood. This is all, again, vital data we should all have and continue to update periodically. Just like a software program needs yearly updates, so does this data. It’s always changing.

Distinguishing Between Real Symptoms and Psychosomatic Symptoms

Chato Stewart

Chato Stewart has a mission, to draw and use humor as a positive tool to live, to cope with the debilitating effects symptoms of mental illness. Chato Stewart is a Mental Health Hero and Advocate. Recovery Peer Specialist board-certified in Florida. Chato is the artist behind the cartoons series Mental Health Humor, Over-Medicated, and The Family Stew - seen here in his blog posts. The cartoons are drawn from his personal experience of living with bipolar disorder (and other labels). [email protected]

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APA Reference
Stewart, C. (2019). Distinguishing Between Real Symptoms and Psychosomatic Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 2, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Mar 2019
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