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1.  Self-controllable prodromal symptoms of syncope attributed to carotid sinus syndrome during the end stage of cancer: a case report 
Biopsychosocial Medicine  2016;10(1):27.
Carotid sinus syndrome (CSS) can cause prodromal symptoms of syncope such as dizziness and nausea. Patients with end-stage cancer lose self-efficacy associated with reduced activities of daily life (ADL). Herein, we report a case of end-stage cancer in which self-efficacy was enhanced as the patient gained self-control of prodromal symptoms of syncope.
Case presentation
A 70-year-old patient with end-stage esophageal cancer and enlarged supraclavicular lymph nodes developed CSS. The CSS was a mixed type with both bradycardia and decreased blood pressure, accompanied by prodromal symptoms prior to syncope episodes. The patient incidentally discovered that he could decrease the duration of symptoms by contracting the muscles in his hands and legs. By applying this coping method at the onset of prodromal symptoms, he was also able to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms, which resulted in enhanced self-efficacy. As a result, the frequency of prodromal symptoms also decreased even though ADL improved.
This patient was diagnosed with vasoinhibitory-predominant mixed-type CSS. The coping method the patient developed seemed to avoid the onset of abrupt blood pressure decrease via peripheral vascular constriction action. Achievement of adequate coping such as self-control of prodromal symptoms enabled our patient to improve his self-efficacy even at the end stages of cancer. This case of enhanced self-efficacy could possibly illustrate a placebo effect for prevention of recurrence.
PMCID: PMC5011849  PMID: 27602053
Carotid sinus syndrome; Prodromal symptoms of syncope; End stage of cancer; Self-control; Coping
2.  Links among emotional awareness, somatic awareness and autonomic homeostatic processing 
Emotional awareness and somatic interoceptive awareness are essential processes for human psychosomatic health. A typical trait of lacking emotional awareness related to psychosomatic symptoms is alexithymia. In contrast, alexisomia refers to the trait of lacking somatic awareness. Links between emotional and somatic awareness and homeostatic processing are also significant for the psychosomatic health. The purpose of the present paper is to review the links among emotional awareness, somatic interoceptive awareness and autonomic homeostatic processing. On the basis of the collected evidence, the following arguments were presented1: (1) The main subcortical neural substrates for these processes are limbic-related systems, which are also responsible for autonomic functions for optimization of homeostatic efficiency. (2) Considerable studies have shown that autonomic activity and/or reactivity to stress correlate with both emotional and interoceptive awareness. A hypothesis was advocated about the links between the two types of awareness and autonomic function: Autonomic dysfunction, especially high sympathetic tone at baseline and/or attenuated reactivity or variability to stress, appears to be involved in disturbance of emotional and interoceptive awareness. (3) Several studies suggest that a link or a cooperative relationship exists between emotional and somatic awareness, and that somatic awareness is the more fundamental of the two types of awareness. Emotional awareness, somatic awareness and autonomic homeostatic processing generally occur in parallel or concurrently. However, some complex features of pathologies include coexistence of reduced interoceptive awareness and somatosensory amplification. The autonomic homeostatic process is fundamentally involved in emotional and somatic awareness. Investigation of these types of awareness with both neuroimaging evaluations and estimation of peripheral autonomic function are required as next steps for exploration of the relationship between awareness and human somatic states including somatic symptoms as well as general psychosomatic health.
PMCID: PMC4863353  PMID: 27175214
Emotional awareness; Alexithymia; Somatic awareness; Interoception; Interoceptive awareness; Alexisomia; Autonomic function; Homeostasis; Physiological; Psychosomatic medicine
3.  Myofacial Trigger Points in Advanced Cancer Patients 
Myofascial pain syndrome is started to be recognized as one of important factors of pain in cancer patients. However, no reports on features of myofascial trigger points were found in terminally-ill cancer populations. This time, we encountered 5 patients with myofascial pain syndrome and terminal cancer in whom delirium developed due to increased doses of opioid without a diagnosis of myofascial pain syndrome on initial presentation. The delirium subsided with dose reductions of opioid and treatment of myofascial pain syndrome. The common reason for a delayed diagnosis among the patients included an incomplete palpation of the painful sites, which led to unsuccessful myofascial trigger points identification. The features of myofascial trigger points included single onset in the cancer pain management site with opioid and the contralateral abdominal side muscles of the non-common sites. Withdrawal reflexes associated with cancer pain in the supine position, which are increasingly seen in the terminal cancer patients, were considered to have contributed to this siuation. We consider that careful palpation of the painful site is important, in order to obtain greater knowledge and understanding of the features of myofascial trigger points.
PMCID: PMC4768454  PMID: 26962285
Delirium; Myofascial pain syndrome; Palpation; Trigger point; Withdrawal reflex
4.  A family caregiver’s relaxation enhances the gastric motility function of the patient: a crossover study 
The primary purpose of this study was to assess the effect of a caregiver’s relaxation on the gastric motility function of the patient. The secondary purpose was to evaluate changes in the caregiver’s willingness to perform self-care following feedback on the results of the primary purpose.
Subjects were 26 patients with a decreased level of consciousness who received gastrostomy tube feeding and their 26 family caregivers. We compared the patient’s gastric motility under the condition of having his or her hand held with and without caregiver relaxation (crossover study). Changes in the caregiver’s willingness to perform self-care following feedback on the results was evaluated using self-administered questionnaires. Hypnosis was used for relaxation. The outcomes assessed for gastric motility function were the motility index and gastric emptying rate by ultrasonography examination.
Hand-holding by the family caregiver while he or she was receiving relaxation enhanced the patient’s gastric motility function. By giving feedback on the results, the caregiver’s willingness to adopt self-care was increased and his or her sense of guilt was reduced.
This study suggested that a caregiver’s relaxation increases the gastric motility function of the patient and that gettinng feedback including the positive results increases the caregiver’s willingness to perform self-care, which consequently reduce the caregiver burden.
PMCID: PMC4628374  PMID: 26526968
Family caregiver; Self-care; Sense of guilt; Relaxation; Gastric motility function
5.  Psychological characteristics of Japanese patients with chronic pain assessed by the Rorschach test 
The increasing number of patients with chronic pain in Japan has become a major issue in terms of the patient's quality of life, medical costs, and related social problems. Pain is a multi-dimensional experience with physiological, affective, cognitive, behavioral and social components, and recommended to be managed via a combination of bio-psycho-social aspects. However, a biomedical approach is still the dominant method of pain treatment in Japan. The current study aimed to evaluate comprehensive psychological functions and processes in Japanese chronic pain patients.
The Rorschach Comprehensive System was administered to 49 in-patients with non-malignant chronic pain. Major variables and frequencies from the test were then compared to normative data from non-patient Japanese adults by way of the t-test and chi-square test.
Patients exhibited high levels of emotional distress with a sense of helplessness with regard to situational stress, confusion, and ambivalent feelings. These emotions were managed by the patients in an inappropriate manner. Cognitive functions resulted in moderate dysfunction in all stages. Information processing tended to focus upon minute features in an inflexible manner. Mediational dysfunction was likely to occur with unstable affective conditions. Ideation was marked by pessimistic and less effective thinking. Since patients exhibited negative self-perception, their interpersonal relationship skills tended to be ineffective. Originally, our patients displayed average psychological resources for control, stress tolerance, and social skills for interpersonal relationships. However, patient coping styles were either situation- or emotion-dependent, and patients were more likely to exhibit emotional instability influenced by external stimuli, resulting in increased vulnerability to pain.
Data gathered from the Rorschach test suggested psychological approaches to support chronic pain patients that are likely to be highly beneficial, and we thus recommend their incorporation into the course of current pain treatments.
PMCID: PMC3016376  PMID: 21110860
6.  Depression and Anxiety Correlate Differently with Salivary Free Cortisol in the Morning in Patients with Functional Somatic Syndrome 
Patients presenting with functional somatic syndrome (FSS) are common, and the symptoms are persistent and difficult to treat for doctors and costly for society. The aim of this study was to clarify the common pathophysiology of FSS, especially the relationship between hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function and psychological characteristics of patients with FSS. The subjects were 45 patients with FSS and 29 healthy controls. Salivary free cortisol was measured in the morning, and psychological tests examining depression, anxiety and quality of life (QOL) were performed on the same day. In patients with FSS, depressive scores showed a significant negative correlation with salivary free cortisol in the morning, although in healthy controls, cortisol showed a significant positive correlation with depressive scores. In addition, the correlation between other psychological test scores and cortisol secretion in patients with FSS contrasted with that of controls. The relationship between cortisol and depression, anxiety or QOL, suggests that the HPA axis of patients with FSS is dysfunctional and does not function properly when patients with FSS are under stress. This dysfunction may explain the pathology of medically unexplained persistent symptoms of patients with FSS.
PMCID: PMC2782128  PMID: 19662526
Functional somatic syndrome (FSS); Salivary free cortisol; Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis; Depression; Anxiety
7.  Biopsychosocial approaches to a patient with vomiting of 10 years' duration – a case of temporal lobe epilepsy 
Vomiting is commonly encountered in clinical medicine. When organic gastrointestinal, metabolic, and brain diseases are ruled out, many cases are considered to be functional. We experienced an adult patient with epilepsy whose main symptom was vomiting. Biopsychosocial approaches were needed to control the symptoms.
Case presentation
A 26-year-old female with a 10-year history of persistent vomiting was found to have temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Throughout this time, during which the vomiting had become part of a vicious cycle, her epilepsy was poorly controlled by medication. Biopsychosocial approaches were employed successfully and the patient subsequently undertook training to become a home-helper, started a job, and was able to leave her parents' house and live independently. All of her symptoms resolved after she became self-sufficient.
Vomiting without impaired consciousness is seldom considered to be a manifestation of epilepsy. Difficulty in recording an electroencephalogram (EEG) because of the presence of persistent vomiting delayed the diagnosis. The improvement of symptoms was thought to have been due to the patient's emotional stabilization and physical improvement, which may have stabilized the limbic system.
When an illness persists for many years and conditioning and a vicious cycle occur secondarily, systematic biopsychosocial approaches are needed in addition to general treatment. Also, secondary symptoms make the diagnosis more difficult when efforts at treatment are ineffective.
PMCID: PMC2642859  PMID: 19166585

Results 1-7 (7)