Published on Saturday, 09 May 2009 16:17
Written by Yasha
Does the link between emotions and health exist?
Am I questioning the link between emotions and health? I don't think so.
What I am discussing here is my personal view on how people regard this statement. Some people simply can't see any link between anger, resentment, worries, anxiety, jealousy or even perfectionism, and their headache, stomachache, back pain, colds or stiff shoulders.
I've asked many people around me: "What's your understanding of the possibility that emotions can influence your health?" To my surprise, only for some people does the link between their emotions and their health exist! "Oh, no, my headache is the result of my allergy and my genes," said one particular very busy sales person. "Could be, but, are you saying that your stress has nothing to do with your headache?" was my comment.
Some of the answers were unclear, unspecific, with many doubts and dilemmas.
Do I believe in the link between emotions and health? Yes, I strongly believe in this link, and it has been known for many decades, if not centuries. But, I don't understand why so many people are still so unsure about this statement.
To all of you, who are still in some kind of dilemma, or even if you don't believe in the link between emotions and health, I need to convince you that this link exists. It's not in my imagination.
What we've learned so far in the field of human health is that unhappy, sad, angry, pessimistic or depressed people are more often sick than others, and with more chronic diseases. Some diseases are psychosomatic, or just partly psychosomatic, which means illness comes from a mental or personality disturbance, and not from a physically dysfunctional organ or system. Or, to put it another way: You are sick because of your emotions/health/body connection, not because of any organic dysfunction.
What's the link between emotions, state of mind, attitude and our health? The link is. the immune system. Let me explain it.
Each distressing emotion produces a very powerful hormone, called cortisol. This is really a `bad hormone,' that suppresses the immune system, which is our protection against illness. If you want good health and a strong immune system, then be positive, happy, joyful and optimistic. This is a fact known for many years, but obviously not to everyone.
Do you want to improve your immune system? Then start doing meditation, tai chi, yoga, pay attention to your diet, exercise, improve your mental health and stay positive! Why? Because anger, anxiety, fear, depression, and many other things, affect the immune system itself.
Nowadays we know that emotions produce biochemical changes in the body. Distressing emotions produce distressing results in the body. Interestingly, in each human body, there is one specific organ or system that is the weak point of the organism. In medical jargon they called it in Latin, "Locus minoris resistentiae"- meaning "the place of least resistance to microorganisms" (MedicineNet.com). The weak point could be your immune system, your stomach, your neck, your back or your shoulders that bothers you the most often. If you have more problems with one particular organ or system, think about your emotions.
There is one gland in the human body that is watching your thoughts! Isn't it incredible? That small gland known as the thymus, located behind the breastbone, plays a very important role in the immunological defense system. As a part of the immune system, the thymus produces white blood cells - in particular, lymphocytes, called T-cells. These cells are the most powerful tool in the fight against disease and infection.
One of the many possible ways to become ill is this one: Troubled thoughts: worries/depression/ fear/anxiety/anger, leads to stress. The stress shrinks the production of the lymphocytes (T-cells) in the thymus. Less T-cells means a weaker immune system. With a weak immune system, any attack to the body (exposure to an infection) actually means - disease.
Now you know a little of how the link between emotions and health works. Being a physically healthy person is the result of being a person with a positive attitude and a positive mental health outlook - and vice versa.
There is one science, known as psychoneuroimmunogy, where you can learn more about the link between emotions and health. In the word psychoneuroimmunogy `psycho' stands for the mind, `neuro' stands for the nervous system and `immunology' stands for the immune system.
Who knows, maybe you'll see for yourself that the link between emotions and health exists.