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Psychophysiology is a branch of science in which the interactions between the mind and the body can be studied. Often associated with alternative medicine, it has been integrated with traditional medical treatments in the early 21st century; research has shown links between mental health and many physical disorders. General physicians, specialists such as neurologists, as well as chemists and engineers often work in the field of psychophysiology. Stress, anxiety, and fear are sometimes correlated with conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, and migraine headaches, in addition to digestive system disorders. Medical treatments can combine drug therapy with meditation, massage therapy, or yoga, for example.
Research into using different therapies, focused on the mind and body, has often shown that healing can be improved when both are addressed. Treatments for various diseases are sometimes more successful as well. The influence of psychophysiology on one’s health can be seen in reactions often called psychosomatic. Fear of certain stimuli can result in increased heart rate and blood pressure, while digestive function can be compromised. Over time, chronic illnesses may develop, so one’s emotional state is sometimes addressed during medical treatment.
Meditation is one practice that is related to the psychophysiology of stress; studies have shown that this can relieve anxiety and depression. It often improves the health of the digestive system, lowers blood pressure, and can even bring cholesterol down. Mind and body therapies are often used to treat conditions related to traumatic experiences, serious diseases, as well as life-threatening injuries. Emotional states can also affect the nervous system. Neuropsychology often involves the monitoring of heart rate, immune response, and sleep rhythm in relation to various emotional states.
Tests such as electroencephalograms (EEG), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and Computerized Axial Tomagraphy (CAT) scans are often used to monitor a person’s health. These scientific tests can be combined with knowledge of how physical states can change with emotions. Studies have correlated certain emotional states, such as loneliness, with an increased risk of heart disease, and prolonged Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with bowel conditions.
Various methods of analyzing physical well being and mental health have been developed. Software can even be used to assess the psychophysiology of a person. One program uses a scoring system that can incorporate data from tests on the heart, respiratory system, brain waves, and on how the skin conducts electricity. Environmental and even social psychophysiology can also be addressed in healthcare. Scientists in the field often study the balance between the mind and body in preventative medicine and treatments for various ailments.