« Back to articlePrint this article

5 emotions that will ruin your health

November 06, 2014 10:53 IST

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, maps out our emotions that are just downright unhealthy.

It is passe to think of emotions as just, well, emotions.

They are actually biological events that leave a terrible footprint on your body, and some of them can be dangerous.

Stress has been acknowledged as the dirty word in this regard.

But what exactly is stress? And what cluster of emotions contributes to stress?

If you examine it minutely, you will appreciate that stress is the symptom of a deeper malaise. It is the final outpost of an emotion gone dangerously out of kilter.

Today, with greater awareness of the nascent field of psychoneuroimmunology, the long-neglected links between health and emotions are emerging fast.

Evidence continues to pile up that proves that a majority of diseases, including chronic ones, are caused by emotions.

Emotions, if not channelised well, can become negative, maybe even kill you.

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, maps out our emotions that are just downright unhealthy.

1. Stress

Stress is implicated in several ailments.

It is linked to most heart-related problems and is known to weaken the cardiovascular system.

It is associated with diabetes and blood pressure, including low blood pressure and thus also linked to clinical depression.

It is infamous for weakening the immune system and thus opening the body to infection.

It is also said to delay wound healing and affects salivary chemicals, which in turn affect the digestive tract.

Chronic digestive problems are directly linked to the digestive system since any evidence of adrenal glands (stress glands) going into overdrive immediately sends it on a protective slow-down.

Also, the stomach is very sensitive to stress signals and reacts to every emotion (it is said to change colour with our emotions!), whether it is constipation, or anxiety-induced diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, halitosis, anorexia, bulimia, or obesity.

It also affects fertility and the overall health of the reproductive system.

Photograph: Bhernandez/Creative Commons

2. Depression

Depression is now recognised as a serious ailment and is being treated on an emergency footing.

But, unfortunately, it has associated physical and emotional problems that are often left untreated, possibly worsening the depressive condition.

These associated problems include:

Distancing from relationships that could help the problem (from a sense of isolation).

Repetitive or addictive behaviour which seeks self-destructive outlets -- including medications that are useless but are addictive, psychotic drugs, alcoholism, chain-smoking, or overeating.

Hypochondriac behaviour that offers the sufferer an excuse to hide from normal life situations and also creates a behaviour pattern that creates distances in relationships.

Occupational dysfunction, meaning behaviour that causes failure at work.

Mental lethargy and disinterest in normal daily chores or pleasures, causing a breakdown of overall functional ability.

It can affect memory, lead to age-related mental disorders that can be difficult to nurse, or require institutional support in the long term.

It also affects the immune system, can be linked to thyroid issues, problems with the reproductive system and strain the cardio-vascular and respiratory system.

Photograph: Victor Casale/Creative Commons

3. Anger

Anger is linked to type-A personality, which is nowadays seen as a "cardiac" personality, prone to heart attacks and other cardiovascular related ailments.

It is said to cause heart arrhythmia -- irregular heart beat.

It thickens the blood, and is associated with inflammatory conditions in the body -- ulcers, IBS, fertility issues, and poor absorption of nutrients, and, like stress, is associated with cholesterol.

It also causes life-threatening situations.

These are manifested in, for example, road rage events, competitive behaviour on the road (cutting lanes, jumping signals); self-destructive behaviour at work, including quarrelling with co-workers, and putting off supportive care-takers while sick by throwing tantrums.

This can cause active isolation that in turn can acerbate the condition by creating more causes for feeling angry.

Photograph: Isengardt/Creative Commons

4. Anxiety

Anxiety is a known psychosomatic trigger in several physical problems, including vision health, memory failure, heart conditions, low blood pressure and/or high blood pressure.

It is often accompanied by clinical depression because of the sense of helplessness it creates.

It is often linked to many auto-immune diseases, where the body over-reacts and begins to attack itself from inside, whether it is bronchitis or arthritis.

It weakens immunity, affects wound-healing, and can delay overall healing in ailments.

It encourages compulsive pill-popping, further acerbating existing problems.

It can also trigger addictive behaviour that gives temporary relief -- over-eating, fasting, psychotic drugs, chain-smoking, and popping prescription pills for long-term relief.

Photograph: Corrie/Creative Commons

5. Lethargy

Lethargy is not treated or taken seriously.

Actually, it is caused by several serious biological events and causes.

Lack of iron or magnesium can make you dull: the first because it affects your cardiovascular health and the latter because it is linked to resolving the body's trauma in adrenal gland overdrive.

Hypothyrodism, a drop in androgen hormone levels, also makes one feel dull.

Though regarded as a male hormone, androgen is functional in women too, and when it is down, it can drag you down with it.

A high sugar diet (often sought as an addictive outlet for people with emotional issues) can cause a blood sugar crash that also is interpreted by the body as lethargy.

A dip in feel-good neuro-chemicals is said to make one uninterested in simple things and prone to an attitude of "what's the use anyway?" This is often a precursor of or accompaniment to clinical depression.

All images used for representational purposes only

Photograph: Transformer18/Creative Commons

Shameem Akthar