Emotions and physical health relationship

Essay by marc24High School, 10th gradeA+, March 2004

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It has been known for centuries that psychological/emotional factors are related to many physical illnesses--some emotional reactions cause problems and some psychological circumstances or techniques help us feel better. Emotional trauma can cause physical problems. A recent study reported that women who experience trauma--domestic violence--have 50% to 70% more neurological, gynecological, and stress-based physical problems than women who have never been abused (Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, 2002, Archives of Internal Medicine). Of course, the reverse is true too: having a physical problem may cause us distress and sadness while good health contributes to happiness. Usually there is a two-way relationship between the psychological and physical aspects. An entire issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (July, 2002) documents well the role of psychology in the management of many specific physical problems and diseases. Negative emotions influence our hormones and lower our immunity to several diseases.

Depression, anger, and social isolation contribute to heart disease; psychology can and should be part of the treatment (see heart section below). Different behaviors contribute to healthy and to unhealthy aging. Stress affects asthma, digestive track disorders and many other physical ailments; psychological techniques can help one relax. Behavioral control methods are, of course, related to maintaining the all important healthy diet and exercise program. Behavioral self-regulation is at the crux of weight control...diabetes management...of pain and headache management...of somataform disorders...and of many other problems that are commonly seen as "physical."

Consider, for a moment, a throng of people: the 1000s of fans who watched the Marlins baseball teams play the Cleveland Indidans; the 1000s of spectators watching a marathon; the millions who watch Seinfeld each Thursday night. These people act together, often in unison, as if they were one interconnected being. Yet, each person in the mass is unique...