Last update: 09 March, 2015
“It's a blow to the heart”, a phrase that expresses a person's feeling of suffering facing one or more of the following situations: emotional shock, breaking up of a love or friendship relationship, loss of a loved one, or heated discussion with someone.
What many do not know is that, following various researches on the subject, we can argue that emotional pain actually leads to consequences of physical discomfort.
Emotional Pain Studies
Different brain activity studies have shown that the same part of the brain that processes physical pain also deals with emotional pain. Numerous experts on the subject affirm that, just as there are physical injuries that involve chronic pain, in the same way there are emotional wounds from which many people never manage to recover, until they get to feel this increasingly painful suffering.
Among the most common causes we can mention social exclusion, the breakup of a relationship and the loss of a loved one.
Among the most recurrent symptoms of people who have suffered these injuries we can mention:
- chest pain
- principles of despair and dementia
- sense of emptiness below the breastbone
- loss of confidence in the meaning of life and daily routine
The opinions of specialists
According to Professor David Alexander, director of the Trauma Research Center in Aberdeen, Scotland, and a professional dedicated to supporting recovery from disasters such as the tsunamis that hit the Asian continent or the war in Iraq, chronic emotional pain undoubtedly translates into physical pain.
Alexander argues that although medical research has a duty to focus on physical pain, all patients complain of feelings of "stomach pain" and "headache", which makes it clear that most of the time the pain starts from the emotional sphere.
Consequently, experts support the theory that people who are unable to adapt and overcome emotional pain are those who experience a higher level of physical pain. 10% of people who lose a loved one could be included in this group.
Researcher Mary Frances O'Connor states that emotional distress becomes a "complex pain," resulting in feelings of bitterness and anger, as well as a loss of forward-looking vision and life expectancy. Although a number of people manage to adapt to these situations, many others fail to achieve these levels of resilience.
In a nutshell, it is possible to die because you have a "broken heart".
Martin Cowie, professor of cardiology at London's Brompton hospital, states that indeed this is a very common trend among men, where the greatest risk lies in the six months following the loss of a loved one. This is due to the fact that the stress corresponding to this type of situation increases, as well as the chances of having a heart attack.
Let's change perspective
With all certainty, during our journey through life we will have to face some difficult situations because no one is exempt from them. The important thing is that we can overcome these situations to remedy both emotional and physical pain. Furthermore, if we are interested in our own well-being, we can also contribute to "heal the heart" of others.
Image courtesy of: Hayley Bouchard