Emotional pain physical symptoms and its association

Written by: Maheen Asif – M.Sc
(Clinical Psychology)

Last updated date : May 09, 2022

Can your emotions cause physical pain? “Emotional pain physical symptoms” are believed to have a “mind-body” relationship.

You’ve been in much emotional pain when an anxiety attack strikes for the past week. At the same time, you start to experience physical symptoms like strange stomach, back, and limb aches and pains. You may even develop a headache and become sluggish and tired.

Is it bad luck, or do the two issues have something to do with one other?

As popular thought suggests, mental illness isn’t “all in your head,” as popular thought suggests. Mental illness affects your brain, but because your brain impacts the rest of your body, it’s no surprise that it can make you feel ill. As a result, if you’re having inexplicable aches and pains, it could be related to your mental health.

Continue reading this article to learn how emotional pain can express itself in physical symptoms.

Chapter 1:
What Is Emotional Pain?

The pain caused by any non-physical source is called emotional pain. It could also be the outcome of regret, grief, or loss in some cases. It could also be the effect of an underlying mental health problem like sadness or anxiety. Emotional pain is related to a range of common feelings that can influence your physical health

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Chapter 2:
What Are the Symptoms of Emotional Pain?

Here are some symptoms of emotional pain. as,
  • Worthlessness
  • Rage
  • Shame
  • Panic
  • Grief
  • isolation
  • Loneliness
  • Depression
  • Distress
  • Negative emotions
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Chapter 3:
Can Your Emotions Cause Physical Pain?

Let’s look into the answer. Yes! It can.

Have you ever heard the term psychogenic pain? Our bodies usually express what our minds are unable to perceive or comprehend. Psychogenic pain is what we call when your emotions can cause physical pain.

When emotions cause physical pain, you may wonder what is causing it. Probably, you don’t believe it because of your mind.

Even though the body has recovered from a traumatic event, the mind may still be affected. Similarly, the nervous system will still release stress hormones if the mind is stuck. Stress hormones keep the body in survival mode.

The experience of both Emotional and physical pain is different. However, research suggests that both types of pain share a neural basis. For instance, changes in the prefrontal and cingulate cortex. Furthermore, some experts also claim that both types of pain are part of a larger pain continuum.

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Chapter 4:
Common Physical Symptoms Caused by Emotional Pain

Following are a few common physical symptoms that one might experience in the state of emotional pain
  • Chest pain
  • crying
  • trembling or shaking
  • Sleep problems
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Adrenaline rush
  • easily scared
  • butterflies in stomach
  • Numbness or tingling in arms and hands
  • stomach pain
  • increased heart rate
  • change in sleep pattern
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Chapter 5:
Why Does Emotional Pain Cause Physical Symptoms?

Everyone experiences such emotions from time to time . Persistent and strong emotions can cause difficulty to carry out everyday chores. Emotional pain can sometimes lead to physical symptoms that aren’t caused by any known physical reason.

A person might engage in some behaviours to cope with their emotional pain. For example;

  • Aggression and violence
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicide
  • Compulsive behaviours. Such as, shopping, gambling and sex addiction.
  • Risky behaviours
  • Substance abuse

let’s get into the detail of different emotions that cause physical symptoms;

Grief

Several studies shows that grief has negative consequence on the body. For instance ;

  • Grief leads to inflammation. It can further aggravate existing health problems or create new ones.
  • It weakens the immune system. As a result, you are prone to infections.
  • Grief can raise blood pressure, which increases the risk of blood clots.
  • intense grieving can also trigger “broken heart syndrome.”

Stress connects emotional and physical grief aspects. The body system overlaps that regulate physical and emotional stress. Furthermore, emotional stress activates the nervous system like physical pain does. Chronic stress can cause chronic medical issues, such as high blood pressure and Adrenaline.

Anger

Anger is the most basic emotion that humans have. It causes Adrenaline to release in the body. Furthermore, it causes muscle tension and respiration to become faster.

Therefore, it activates the “fight” component of the “fight/flight/freeze” response. It can be energizing at times, but it can have long-term physical impacts if a person doesn’t handle it properly.

Anxiety

Anxiety and fear both release Adrenaline, just like anger does. Hence, it activates the “flight reaction” and “freeze reaction. What exactly is the flight and freeze reaction?

Flight response is an inability to relax. However, a Freeze response is a sense of being stuck or immobilized. Substance abuse can also cause anxiety. Limiting the use of alcohol and drugs can typically alleviate the symptoms. Be honest with your doctor regarding your alcohol and drug usage, ensuring proper diagnosis and treatment.

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Chapter 6:
Why Does My Doctor Need to Be Aware of My Emotions?

You might not be used to talking to your doctor about your emotions. But keep in mind that just by looking at you, he or she may not be able to determine if you’re tense, anxious, or upset. If you’re experiencing these feelings, then you must tell your doctor.

Firstly, the doctor must ensure that other health issues are not causing your physical symptoms. Moreover, you and your doctor will address the emotional cause if any other health issues are not present. Your doctor may suggest ways to address your physical problems as you and your doctor work together to improve your mental health.

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Chapter 7:
Is It Possible for Us to Cope with Both Emotional and Physical Pain?

Our brains and bodies are interlinked and constantly influence one another. Some emotional cues are obvious, such as smiling when we’re delighted or sobbing when we’re sad. But, what about the less obvious ones? People who are anxious or irritated may experience nausea or shuttering.

Try to think about what’s on your mind. Also, What you’re holding on to, or even what you’re repressing the next time you’re in physical pain. Pain might indicate acknowledging your mind, so pay close attention to it. Start observing your physical and behavioural cues. So, it will help you identify your emotions before they become overwhelming.

Deep breathing and Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)

However, there is always a way to cope. Do you know what? Calming your body can help improve your emotional state. For example, Start focusing on deep breathing when you’re feeling anxious. As a result, your anxiety will be reduced.
Moreover, the body gets stiff in stress. You can deal with it by tightening and relaxing muscles. As a result, it relieves stress physically and then emotionally.

Express yourself

If stress, grief, or anxiety are creating health problems, suppressing these emotions might make you feel even worse. When something bothers you, it’s fine to tell your loved ones. However, Remember that your loved ones may not always be able to help you deal with your emotions. To help you improve your emotional health, seek advice and support from the doctor.  Therefore, the doctor can modify the plans to overcome your emotions. It can be done in a most effective way based on the physical symptoms you are experiencing.

In summary, Awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours is the first step toward good emotional health. Learning good coping mechanisms for stress is a necessary part of life. However, if your emotional pain persists, you need to seek help from a professional.

For more information please visit the website, https://www.epsychonline.com/. There are several courses on the website. The course “Coping with Chronic Pain” will help you in providing detailed information on the  topic.