The Physical Symptoms of Grief

Research shows that emotional pain activates the same regions of the brain as physical pain


Physical symptoms of grief

It's surprising how physical grief can be. Your heart can literally ache. A memory can cause your stomach to tighten, or send a shiver down your spine. Some nights, your mind might race, causing your heart to race along with it, filling your body with energy that means you can hardly sleep. On other nights you might be so exhausted that you fall asleep immediately and still manage to wake up the next morning feeling shattered.


Stress links the emotional and physical aspects of grief.

The systems in the body that process physical and emotional stress overlap, and emotional stress can activate the nervous system as easily as physical threats can. When stress becomes too much, increased adrenaline and blood pressure can lead to medical conditions.


Research shows that emotional pain activates the same regions of the brain as physical pain. This might be why painkilling drugs ranging from opioids to Tylenol have been shown to ease emotional pain.


Our bodies are designed to process rather than store things. We consume and process food to create energy and to fuel our various organs. If we consume more food than necessary, our body stores it as fat. Too much of this fat storage can have negative consequences for our overall health.


Likewise, the body is designed to process our emotional experiences. If we suppress, store, and mask those emotions deep inside, this can result in negative consequences for our general health as well.


When we continually bury these feelings of emotional pain deep down, rather than putting a voice to them, our body sends us signals that it’s not happy. Some people get headaches, while other people can respond with intestinal problems and ulcers.


Normal responses to emotional stress can also include an increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and high blood pressure.

By recognising that these are normal responses to suppressed emotional feelings, the best treatment plan can be followed.


If you suffer with any of the problems outlined and you’re suffering most with these problems at the times you are dealing with a grief in your life, maybe it’s time to find out how you can release the pain.


Taking effective action doesn’t only help you to feel better emotionally, but physically as well. To find out more, get in touch with one of our Grief Specialists to help you deal with the emotional pain of loss.