7 Types of Pain Directly Linked to Your Emotions

By Kim Saeed | Contemplating No Contact

Sep 25

When we feel emotionally balanced, our bodies reflect this positive feeling, too.

Positive emotions such as contentment or satisfaction tell our brains to release positive chemicals such as serotonin or dopamine to make our bodies feel good. 

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.

When we find ourselves in a less-than-positive emotional state, this mental anguish can express itself throughout our bodies. For example, our brains release toxic levels of cortisol when we’re exposed to long-term physical, mental, or emotional stress. Our brain chemistry gets burnt-out and our bodies reflect this in physical ways.

The type of pain linked to high levels of cortisol or adrenal fatigue is easy for most people to identify, but emotional stress can express itself physically in many ways. For many people, chronic emotional stress just feels normal. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re in an unbalanced emotional state until we start examining our physical pain and attempt to determine its source.

Do you have chronic headaches or a kink in your back you just can’t seem to shake? Have you already tried everything medically available but the pain just won’t go away? You could be looking in the wrong places.

Many types of pain are directly linked to our emotions. Once we identify what’s causing the pain, we can start healing from the inside out.

What is Psychosomatic Pain?

Psychosomatic pain is a disorder characterized by chronic and physical symptoms with no apparent medical explanation. The term is derived from the word psyche referring to our mental state and somawhich means body. Consider also that the word pain comes from the Latin word poena which means “penalty.” So psychosomatic pain is a specific type of physical pain triggered by our psychological state.

 

As the current of an emotion travels along our neural pathways, it triggers a release of chemical proteins called neuropeptides.  Each emotion has its own individual frequency and, simultaneously, releases a corresponding receptor active peptide [1].  The late Dr. Candace B. Pert, author of Molecules of Emotion, wrote about how unprocessed emotions in the body actually become stuck, thereby affecting a person’s entire system.

Negative emotions and negative thoughts have a different energetic frequency than positive emotions and thoughts. Because of that, they can distort the organs, tissues, and cells that surround wherever they’re stored in the body.

Our bodies literally punish us for putting them through stressful emotional experiences. Unfortunately, negative emotions might not even be our own fault, but our bodies can’t tell the difference. Long-term emotional abuse or childhood neglect can manifest in chronic psychosomatic pain through no fault of our own.

Likewise, minor emotional inconveniences can also express themselves throughout our bodies in different forms of pain. The pain can last for years and even spread from one part of our body to another. We often won’t find a physical explanation or successful pharmaceutical treatment because there simply isn’t one.

It’s important to understand that the term “psychosomatic” doesn’t mean that pain or discomfort are ‘all in your head’, but rather that the symptoms result from brain function and chemistry.

Our minds and bodies work dualistically [2]. Mental pain can directly cause nerve damage and other physical pain. Fortunately, we can also harness our minds to relieve physical pain, as well.

If you’ve experienced physical maladies with no medical explanation in sight, it may be time to consider healing from the inside out through targeting and healing negative emotions and unprocessed emotional trauma.

7 Common Types of Pain That Are Directly Linked to Your Emotional State

1 – Headaches and Migraines

Most chronic headaches and migraines are triggered by the daily stresses of life. Generalized anxiety also causes headaches. Repressed (bottled-up) emotions surrounding stress — such as anxiety, worry, drama, and fatigue — can increase muscle tension, and dilated (widened) blood vessels can make a migraine worse. [3]

An interesting trigger of the contemporary headache may be associated with the company we keep. For example, do you notice a tension headache when your abusive partner arrives home? Does your frontal headache show up around the time your narcissistic boss shows up to work?

If you’ve experienced headaches or have been medically diagnosed with migraines that weren’t part of your life before entering a toxic relationship or ongoing stressful situation, your emotions may be the root cause.

2 – Neck and Shoulder Pain

As stress starts to accumulate in our minds and bodies, the first place it typically manifests physically is in our shoulders and neck. Chronic neck and shoulder pain often arise from trying to carry the weight of the world on one’s shoulders, an inability to let go of a person or situation, or the inability to forgive.

3 – Back Pain

The emotional link to back pain depends on the area.  The factors to consider are as varied as each person is, but the most salient include:

  • Physical stress to the lower back
  • Sedentary jobs
  • Lack of exercise
  • Untended psychological issues
  • Depression, anxiety
  • Coping mechanisms, how you deal with stress

Before agreeing to invasive measures to treat your back pain, try psychological therapy and alternative healing modalities to see if they help.

4 – Abdominal Pain

Emotional stress wreaks havoc [4] on our digestive system. Long-term depression, anxiety, or PTSD can cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic ulcers, and general discomfort. Many stomach disorders indicate a failure to “stomach” a person or a situation which you dread or cannot tolerate. It can also mean that it’s difficult for you to deal with a person or situation that contradicts your plans, habits, or lifestyle. This may cause you to inwardly criticize yourself, preventing you from letting go of the situation.

5 – Menstrual Pain

That time-of-the-month is always painful, sure. But if a woman’s menstrual cycles become overly painful or she develops chronic conditions, her emotions could be the real culprit.

As women, when we refuse to embrace the difficult or unpleasant emotions inside of us, when we deny the shadow sides of our personalities, or when we hold negative beliefs about ourselves as women, various menstrual problems may manifest and can even trigger or exasperate endometriosis [5] and uterine fibroids.

6 – Pain in the Extremities

Pain or stiffness in our hips might indicate fear of going forward in major decisions or feeling there’s nothing to move forward to. Are you trying to avoid moving on from a past experience or state? Knee pain, stiffness or inflexibility may reflect rigidity in your perception of the future. It occurs more often in those who are unable to bend to new ideas, such as the idea of a different life. Pain in our arms might represent the incapacity and inability to hold the experiences of life.

7 – All-Over Pain Including Fibromyalgia

Our bodies sometimes utilize widespread musculoskeletal pain as a defensive tool to distract our minds from chronic emotional repression or imbalance. If you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and medical treatments just aren’t working, consider thoroughly evaluating your emotional state.

3 Easy Ways to Start Healing

  1. Counseling or Group Therapy

Over long periods of time, negative emotions can start to feel “normal.” If you aren’t sure where to start, talking to a therapist can help identify some areas to improve. Support groups can also provide dynamic feedback in a safe environment.

  1. Yoga and Meditation

Many studies show that developing a yoga and meditation routine can reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression and help us move towards a more-balanced emotional state.

  1. Communicating and Understanding Your Emotions

Sometimes we repress our emotions which, over time, leads to psychosomatic pain. Developing better communication skills can help us express our emotions properly so they don’t create an unnecessary burden on our bodies. If you are in a situation or relationship where you aren’t able to express yourself or your emotions, it may be time to consider ways to detach so you can move forward into emotional and physical healing.

Our emotions are often directly linked to our physical ailments. By identifying and treating our negative mental state, we can properly heal our bodies from the inside out.

Copyright 2017 Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach

This article was originally written for and published on PsychCentral.com

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References

[1] Home. (n.d.). Dr. Candace Pert. Retrieved September 12, 2017, from http://candacepert.com/

[2] Tyrer, S. (2006, January 01). Psychosomatic pain. Retrieved September 16, 2017, from http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/188/1/91#sec-2

[3] Stress and Headaches. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2017, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/stress-and-headaches

[4] Publications, H. H. (n.d.). Why stress may cause abdominal pain, from the Harvard Mental Health Letter. Retrieved September 14, 2017, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/why-stress-may-cause-abdominal-pain

[5] Cuevas, M., Flores, I., Thompson, K. J., Ramos-Ortolaza, D. L., Torres-Reveron, A., & Appleyard, C. B. (2012, August). Stress Exacerbates Endometriosis Manifestations and Inflammatory Parameters. Retrieved September 12, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4046310/

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About the Author

Kim Saeed is a narcissistic abuse recovery expert on a mission to help abuse survivors to heal, find purpose, and live joyfully after No Contact. She also hosts a podcast called Heal, Grow, Evolve, where she aims to help people create meaningful lives and relationships after emotional abuse. Listen and subscribe at www.healgrowevolvewithkim.com

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