War is one of the most traumatic experiences a person can face. It not only endangers physical health, but also has a profound effect on the mental state.
Psychosomatic illnesses that arise or worsen as a result of psychological stress are a common occurrence in military settings. Understanding the neuropsychological mechanisms behind these diseases is key to their effective treatment and prevention.
Activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA): Under the influence of stress, the hypothalamus produces corticotropin-releasing hormone (CGH), which stimulates the pituitary gland to produce adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which in turn activates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Cortisol affects many body systems, including the immune system, and can contribute to the development of psychosomatic diseases.
Activation of the sympathetic nervous system: War and related stress activate the sympathetic nervous system, leading to increased production of epinephrine and norepinephrine. This causes changes in heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
An increase in the level of stress hormones, such as cortisol, can lead to an imbalance in the neuroendocrine system, affecting the functions of organs and systems.
Emotional stress, anxiety and depression can affect physical health, contributing to the development or worsening of psychosomatic diseases.
Psychosomatic diseases in the conditions of war
Gastrointestinal disorders: For example, irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis, peptic ulcer disease.
Cardiovascular diseases: For example, hypertension, ischemic heart disease.
Autoimmune diseases: Stress can contribute to the development or exacerbation of multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune disorders.
Chronic pain: For example, fibromyalgia or chronic headache.
Treatment and prevention
Psychotherapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy and other types of psychotherapy that help manage stress and emotional reactions are especially effective.
Relaxation techniques: Meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, and other relaxation techniques can reduce stress and its effects on the body.
Pharmacotherapy: The use of drugs for the treatment of the main symptoms of psychosomatic diseases.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle: Balanced diet, sufficient physical activity and quality sleep.
Psychosomatic diseases in the conditions of war are complex and multifaceted, requiring a comprehensive approach to treatment. Understanding the neuropsychological mechanisms underlying these disorders is essential for effective treatment and support for those exposed to the extremes of war.
It is important to ensure access to qualified psychological and medical care, as well as to create conditions to reduce the impact of stress factors.