“It’s sad, actually, because my anxiety keeps me from enjoying things as much as I should at this age.” – Amanda Seyfried
Mankind has always known intuitively and from observation of what might be referred to as “empirical” evidence, that emotions have a very real and often debilitating effect on the physical body. And these emotional impacts can affect the body’s metal health, as well.
Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, director-general of the World Health Organization, for example, stated in a 2000 WHO Bulletin that “five of the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide … are mental conditions”
And, in the Hebrew scriptures of Proverbs17:22, we find this truism, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
As A Man Thinketh, So He Is
James Allen was a British philosophical writer known as a pioneer of the self-help movement. His best-known work, As a Man Thinketh is the title of a self-help book published in 1903. The title is influenced by a verse in the Bible from the Book of Proverbs, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”. While Allen used this concept primarily to explain the place of thought in the realm of success or failure in life, he also devoted an entire chapter to the connection between emotion-driven thought and bodily health.
“Disease and health, like circumstances, are rooted in thought. Sickly thoughts will express themselves through a sickly body. Thoughts of fear have been known to kill a man as speedily as a bullet, and they are continually killing thousands of people just as surely though less rapidly. The people who live in fear of disease are the people who get it. Anxiety quickly demoralizes the whole body and lays it open to the entrance of disease; while impure thoughts, even if not physically indulged, will soon shatter the nervous system.” – James Allen
The world is full of people who suffer from mental and physical distress and pain whose symptoms are rooted in their emotions and emotional state. Most of us are familiar with the apparent correlation between worry and anxiety and stomach issues, for example. And emotions such as fear and dread can affect our breathing and our hearts.
According to an article from a Harvard Medical School publication,
“Although results vary, most studies have found a high rate of anxiety symptoms and panic attacks in patients who have chronic respiratory disease, with women at greater risk than men. In several studies involving COPD patients, anxiety has been associated with more frequent hospitalization and with more severe distress at every level of lung function.”
The same article goes on to add that,
“Anxiety disorders have also been linked to the development of heart disease and to coronary events in people who already have heart disease. In the Nurses’ Health Study, women with the highest levels of phobic anxiety were 59% more likely to have a heart attack, and 31% more likely to die from one, than women with the lowest anxiety levels.”
We could add anger, depression, melancholy, and several other emotions and emotional states that affects the health and function of the body. As the Roman philosopher Epictetus said over two thousand years ago: “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.”
Emotions and Physical Pain
A fairly common, yet rarely recognized root cause of physical and chronic pain is emotions. Anxiety and stress can cause muscle pain, for example. A post at the CalmClinic website explains,
“When you have anxiety, you cause many issues that lead to muscle tension: As adrenaline pumps through your body, your blood vessels constrict. That causes your muscles not to receive the blood flow they need, which in turn causes them stress that leads to tension and aches.”
In addition, long term anxiety can affect certain hormones that function like chemical messengers, along with neurotransmitters, that send signals to your muscles and nerves which provide a similar action directly from your brain. When anxiety causes these functions to be off balance, aching is possible.
Fear, dread, trepidation, and anxiety are often the real causes of movement dysfunction which causes pain. Our emotions can significantly impact or perception of threats, real and imagined, and our response to them. These emotions can also trigger our ingrained “fight or flight” response, but to our detriment.
This response refers to a specific biochemical reaction that both humans and animals experience during intense stress or fear. The sympathetic nervous system releases hormones that cause changes to occur throughout the brain and body. Unfortunately, it can be activated in situations where neither response is appropriate, as the result of fear or dread. And, when a perceived threat is gone, our bodies systems are designed to return to normal function from our relaxation response.
But if we are subject to chronic fear, dread and stress, this often doesn’t happen enough, and causes damage to the body. It can have a direct impact on how we hold our bodies at rest, while sitting, walking or working, and create a number of movement dysfunctions as a result.
However, with the proper approach, many of these underlying causes can be identified and steps can be implemented to correct the results of incorrect perceptions and negative emotional states.
Staying Active and Pain-Free With Pain and Performance Solutions
At your first appointment with us, we will learn all we can about your present pain and condition, along with any history of discomfort, as well as your current activity – or lack of it.
Treating and relieving pain starts once we understand where and how your pain started.
A full examination will help us determine which form of treatment is best suited to get you on your road to recovery. Your trust in us is key, as is your honesty. Ultimately, getting your body healthy and working properly is the only way to achieve total recovery. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any questions that you may have.
We will conduct a full examination to help us determine which form of treatment is best suited to put you on your road to recovery. Because our bodies will compensate for pain to allow us to function during our day, the pain can shift around and lead to other forms of pain.
Our goal is to work through the sequence of pain and dysfunction in order to get your body healthy and working properly and to achieve total recovery. Don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any questions that you may have.
You can reach us at (707) 636-4404 or by filling out our online contact form.