Grief Can Cause Physical Symptoms, Experts Say
Suffering from emotional trauma can cause "heart pain" and that feeling does not it is only something imaginary, but physical. The British Psychological Society claims that feeling a twisted stomach, racing heart, trembling, flashbacks and hypersensitivity to noise are considered by-products of physical loss.
Scientists have long shown that grief can manifest not only emotionally but also physically . Researchers at the University of California, USA, conducted tests that show that the part of the brain that deals with physical pain - the anterior cingulate cortex - also processes emotional pain. In addition, bad chest-related sensations are recurrent.
According to the description of the British Heart Foundation, these are the symptoms of "broken heart syndrome," or Takotsubo heart disease, something that usually occurs after some type emotional or physical stress. "I have some patients who, after a stressful emotional episode, experience heart pain or palpitations," Alex Lyon, a professor at the Imperial College London, told the BBC. London suggests that this is a defense mechanism of the heart when faced with the very strong wave of adrenaline, which usually accompanies situations of shock and mourning.
Researchers believe that the problem affects 100 per 1 million people per annum. It has been found that the heart muscle suddenly becomes weak and one of the organ chambers changes shape, so pain is occasioned.
Mourning is also associated with infections. A study by the University of Birmingham in the UK found that those who have recently experienced grief, especially the elderly, may undergo a process of reducing neutrophil functions - the most abundant part of the white blood cells responsible for fighting bacteria such as pneumonia.
This may be an explanation for elderly couples who die at about the same time. "People say that if they die in a broken heart, what we would say is that they are dying of the effects of these factors on their immune system," says Anna Philips, a professor of behavioral medicine at the University of Birmingham and mourning. Other research carried out by Anna Philips and colleagues found that people who experienced a loss in the last year produce fewer antibodies.
Despite the scientific knowledge about the correlation between grief and physical discomfort, the symptoms are not predictable. "People are quite shocked at how physically and worried they feel there is something wrong with them," says Jessica Mitchell, manager of the phone support service at the NGO Cruse Bereavement Care.
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