The problem is not your sickness; it’s your state of mind. Diseases so far have always been looked at from a biological perspective, so much so that often people don’t even know that the cause of an illness might not be present in the body, but can be found in the mind instead. The psychological state of an individual can have such a drastic impact on his/her health, that sometimes even after administering all possible medicines, the illness will not get resolved till the individual’s state of mind is healed.
As is common knowledge, all emotions are caused by and in turn cause a physiological change. Anger leads to increased blood pressure and heart rate, anxiety and fear make you palpitate and hyperventilate while a release of neurotransmitters like oxytocin and dopamine can make you feel happy. However a prolonged negative emotional state can have an impact on your overall health. Depression which can be categorised as a period of depressed mood can cause a change in your body weight, your sleeping patterns, ability to concentrate and perform cognitive tasks and increased level of psychomotor agitation. High levels of stress and anxiety for a prolonged period can hamper your immunity system, cause your body to burn out, and make you more prone to cardiovascular disorder, ulcers, headaches, and much more.
Our personalities and behaviour can also predispose us to certain kind of diseases. The Type theory by Friedman, Roseman and Morris segregates people into 4 types, based on their behavioural patterns, A, B, C and D. In this theory Type A people are categorised as aggressive, assertive, competitive and extremely time conscious. These people are also most susceptible to hypertension and coronary heart diseases. And Type C people, who are cooperative, patient, unassertive, and suppress their negative emotions, these people are most prone to cancer.
In fact research shows that suppressing negative emotions, particularly anger and resentment can facilitate growth of cancerous cells in individuals who already possess the gene for it. Many psychologists also suggest that certain thought patterns and suppressing certain emotions can cause pain in specific areas of the body and lead to development of diseases(Refer to diagram attached). So please, never hesitate to vent.
On the topic of your mental makeup affecting your health, it’s necessary to take a look at Somatoform Disorders. These are conditions in which physical symptoms are present without a biological cause. The more prominent disorders under this category include:-
Pain Disorders – Extreme and incapacitating pain without any identifiable biological symptom or greatly in excess of what might be expected to accompany the biological cause
Somatisation Disorders – Multiple and recurrent bodily complaints like headache, vomiting, fatigue, without a biological cause
Conversion Disorders – Loss of part or all of some basic bodily function. So yes, you could one day wake up blind, paralyzed or in incapacitating pain if you’re not taking adequate care of your mental health.
It is fair to assume that your mental health plays a much more important role in maintaining or destroying your physical health, than it’s given credit for. It’s fascinating to see how closely interrelated one’s physiological and psychological well-being are, especially considering how they are always thought to be two completely different realms. So next time you think of not paying attention to your mental health or suppressing your emotions, don’t.
“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways. - Freud”