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Medically unexplained symptoms are frustrating, but therapy can help you manage

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Updated Jan 20, 2022 by Dr. Sheri Jacobson Dr Sheri Jacobson

Unexplained medical symptoms diagnosis London  

Suffered aches and pains or other persistent physical symptoms for several weeks or more? But doctors don't know why?

Medically unexplained illness can leave you frustrated and feeling unheard.

What are medically unexplained symptoms? 

Medically unexplained symptoms, also called “MUS” for short, are physical health complaints you’ve had for several weeks or more that medical tests can’t find the source of.

Typically they can include things like:

  • headaches and dizziness
  • chest pains and heaviness
  • tingling in your extremities
  • fatigue and brain fog
  • upset stomach and nausea
  • random aches and pains. 

Are persistent physical problems psychological? 

Your physical pain isn't ‘fake’ or something you are 'imagining’. If you are experiencing discomfort, it’s real.  

It’s just that science hasn’t caught up to understanding your pain. In the case of things like chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, your set of symptoms might even be recognised, but still not understood.  

And sometimes there is another component to your pain than just physical which needs addressing. And that is where mental health comes in. 

The mind body connection 

“Mental and physical health are intrinsically linked.” NHS report on Medically Unexlained Symptoms [1].    

Think of the last time you had the flu, or a sports accident. How were your moods? Most of us can be quite miserable and low when facing physical illness. 

And it works the other way around, too. Emotional and mental upset cause physical symptoms. The stress of a breakup or losing our job leaves us exhausted, with muscle tension or headaches, or perhaps an upset stomach or loss of appetite.

Of course sometimes we don't realise we are upset about things. We bury our upset in our unconscious, and repress our emotions, then wonder why we feel tired and not ourselves. 

Bodily symptoms and mental health

Given the intricate (if not always understood) link between our moods and body, many mental health issues have known physical symptoms. 

Depression is linked to fatigue, muscle weakness, headaches, and sleep and appetite changes. 

Bodily symptoms of anxiety include muscle tension, a racing heart, sweatiness, headaches, and stomach upset.  

Childhood trauma such as sexual abuse has been directly linked to medically unexplained symptoms. Research shows that if the mind is overwhelmed by the effects of trauma,it can attempt to lessen the psychological impact through physical symptoms [2].

Talk therapies for MUS - the Harley Therapy™ approach 

Psychological therapies help you discover if balancing your emotional health canmhelp your pain. 

The NHS recommends cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). It’s a short-term therapy that helps you manage the effects of your thoughts on your moods and choices. 

But don’t be afraid to try other talk therapies that might suit you.  

Psychodynamic therapy, for example, discovers the roots of current problems in your childhood, and helps you process unresolved emotions. 

And integrative therapy means your therapist is trained in several schools of therapeutic thought, and can use different tools to help you see results. 

Feel better in your body 

Here at Harley Therapy we know how much courage it takes to start your therapy journey, and that you want real results. We connect you with a team of psychiatrists, counselling psychologists, and psychotherapists hand selected for their dedication, experience, and expertise. 

Time to feel hopeful again? Call us now or complete our online booking form to make an appointment in the City of London, London Bridge or on Harley Street.

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Dr. Sheri Jacobson


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Further reading on medically unexplained symptoms


[1] NHS England and NHS Improvement. Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) for People With Long-Term Medical Health Conditions and Medically Unexplained Symptoms. 2018. ref 00781.
[2] Roelofs K, Spinhoven P. Trauma and medically unexplained symptoms towards an integration of cognitive and neuro-biological accountsClin Psychol Rev. 2007;27(7):798-820. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2007.07.004




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The NHS (National Health Service) is the UK's government run medical service. Their website is written and reviewed by medical experts.

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The UK Council for Psychotherapy

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Mind is a mental health charity covering England and Wales. It offers support to people with mental health problems and lobbies local and national governments.

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Turning Point is a UK charity and social enterprise which works in the mental health, learning disabilities, substance abuse, criminal justice and employment areas.

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The Mental Health Foundation

The Mental Health Foundation is a UK charity which helps people to understand, protect and improve their mental health.

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Harley Therapy Ltd. “Unexplained Medical Symptoms Diagnosis in London • Harley Therapy™”. Harley Therapy, 20 Jan. 2022, https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/medically-unexplained-symptoms.htm. Accessed 22 May. 2022.


Harley Therapy Ltd. (2022, January 20). Unexplained Medical Symptoms Diagnosis in London • Harley Therapy™. Retrieved from https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/medically-unexplained-symptoms.htm


Harley Therapy Ltd. "Unexplained Medical Symptoms Diagnosis in London • Harley Therapy™." Last modified January 20, 2022. Accessed May 22, 2022. https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/medically-unexplained-symptoms.htm.

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