Feelings are important. We all know this to be true. No one likes to have their feelings hurt. Yet, we often think feelings aren’t real- not like a cold or an illness is real. Meaning- we tend to dismiss feelings as being less important when compared to something we know troubles our bodies.
But feelings are real, and emotions have physical consequences.
Not long ago I saw a patient who had recently suffered a heart attack. She was older in her mid-sixties. Because of my natural interest in the role that emotions play in the development of heart disease, I asked her if she anything emotionally troubling had preceded her heart attack?
Sure enough, her mother who she was extremely close to had passed away just a month before. It had been a bitter blow. A huge gaping wound had been left in her psyche. Even though she was older, a veteran of the ups and downs of life- losing her mother had tremendous effects.
In the past physicians would tend to discount such emotional influences. We would rather focus on the hard medical facts of a person’s health: their cholesterol, smoking, and high blood pressure. But in the last few years it has become clear that what happens to a person emotionally can be just as telling as their “physical” risk factors.
The American College of Cardiology now lists depression as a risk factor for heart disease. Indeed, in the last few years a condition called “The Broken Heart Syndrome” has been written about frequently in the cardiology journals. It’s a condition that mimics a heart attack but is believed to be due to excessive release of stress hormones. It is found more often in middle aged women, and is felt to be caused by overwhelming stress or grief.
Maybe you’ve had such and event? If so write me. I’m sure other readers would find your story interesting.