Emotions and Health

 By: Dr. Matthew Romberg
For many years conventional medicine believed that your health was a matter of genetics, infection exposure, and lifestyle. It was a rare exception when emotional experience also played factor to your health condition. There is now solid science behind the correlation of emotional experience and a host of diseases and health conditions including heart disease, depression, obesity and chronic pain. When looking at the body as a whole, emotional experience now plays a significant part in your overall health. Fatigue and stress have been seen as culprits in hindering your health.

Without dealing with their emotional health, no one can be really well. Little progress can be made curing a physical condition, no matter what therapy is used, until there is progress at the emotional level.

Unresolved emotional issues contribute to failing physical problems. They might be emotional experiences that happened many years ago in your childhood, hidden and festering inside the body that come out later in life in the form of an adverse health condition or disease. Often for women, menopause is a time when your body is telling you it is ready to resolve emotional issues and needs healing. Both your emotional and physical health can be healed together. It can be a time when you can reclaim your self.

The most insightful place to explore the emotional roots of disease may be the breakthrough ACE Study. In the 1990’s over 17,000 patients of a large health plan were enrolled in a study to assess the link between emotional experience and adult health. The results were stunning which gave reason to reconsider the structure of primary care in America’s medical practice.

Participants were asked whether they had experienced any of eight forms of personal abuse or dysfunctional family behavior before the age of 18, each called an “adverse childhood experience” (ACE). More than half of the patients had one ACE or more. Even more surprising was the correlation to health outcomes. Those who had experienced an ACE were more likely to have an adverse health condition or disease as an adult. The health outcomes covered a wide range including heart disease, fractures, diabetes, obesity, alcoholism, and more.

The truth is that all emotional experience affects our health, whether positive or negative, and whether it occurs in the past or the present. Negative emotional experiences appear to have more lasting health effects, perhaps because we tend to ignore dealing with them.

Some psychologists and scientists believe we have five basic feelings: joy, fear, anger, grief and love, with other feeling states being variations on these five. An emotion is what your body does with one of these feelings.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that 90% of all visits to the doctor are stress-related. There are hundreds of medical studies linking stress to a host of diseases. Stress is personal. Something that is stressful to one person is not necessarily to another, because of each person’s emotional history. Our biography becomes our biology, in a sense. People develop patterns to dealing with stress. It is important to be aware of your personal patterns and to learn to control them for your emotional wellbeing and your physical health.
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