While no one thinks twice if they are getting butterflies in their stomach before going on stage or the ache in their chest if your crush throws you a smile. When you start talking about emotions causing physical pain, people look at you like you’re talking about voodoo. Yet emotions, both good and bad, have huge impacts on the body’s health and can cause physical pain.
Psychogenic pain, sometimes called psychalgia, is real pain caused by emotional factors. This pain often manifests in headaches, back pain, or stomach issues, including cramping, diarrhea, and even Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). According to studies on the brain, there is no way to differentiate between pain caused by physical ailments and those caused by emotional. The concept of psychogenic pain is still criticized, disregarded, and not considered actual pain, even though most people have experienced this type of pain in milder forms.
Psychalgia is real, and you can support your physical and emotional well-being by staying informed.
Pay Attention to Your Words
If you’re hesitant to believe that emotions can cause physical pain, take a moment to look at these common sayings.
- That child is a pain in the neck.
- You’re killing me.
- That was gut-wrenching.
- I can’t stand it anymore.
- I’ve got the weight of the world on me.
Pain Happens in the Brain
No matter where you hurt your body, the pain occurs in the brain. Nerve signals run back and forth from across the body. Stress, grief, and rage can all create similar neural reactions in the brain. They are detected due to tissue destruction, a neurological process that generates pain. For those who experience chronic pain, which is pain that lasts long after the body has healed, chances are emotional issues may be the root cause.
While this may sound new age, it’s old medical philosophy. Ancient Chinese medicine did not doubt that emotions interfered with the body and its functions. Even modern medicine agrees that stress and anxiety can slow the body’s ability to heal and increase a person’s risk of heart disease and obesity. It may also affect the development of Type 2 diabetes.
Suppose you’re experiencing physical pain but don’t know the cause. In that case, Dr. Nandi wants you to step back and examine your mental and emotional health. You may be experiencing physical signs of emotional anguish because your body is trying to communicate with you about underlying emotional issues that need to be addressed.
Caring for the mind is just as important as caring for the body. In fact, one cannot be healthy without the other.