Relationship of Emotional and Physical Pain

Emotional and physical pain are more connected than you might think. But how can something emotional manifest itself physically? 

Emotional pain can cause stress, anxiety and/or depression. If any of these go untreated for too long, they will start to manifest physically, which over time may lead to developing certain diseases or medical conditions. 

Signs of Emotional Pain

Emotional pain is usually the most visible during an emotional breakdown. Pain like this usually manifests itself with outbursts of irritation, anger and extreme sadness.

Here is a closer look at some common signs of emotional pain.

Persistent Sadness

When you’re experiencing emotional pain, you’ll likely feel sad most (if not all( of the time. This could be brought on by a variety of reasons which are legitimate, however the amount of sadness you’re feeling will be much more than it typically would.

If sadness at this level persists, it can lead to other emotional issues such as depression or an improper perception of yourself.

You may also notice that you’re crying much more than you typically would. There does not have to be a reason for it either.

Sometimes your emotional health is in such a poor state that you may feel the urge to just cry for what seems like no reason at all.

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Inability to Sleep or Eat

It is also common for those suffering with emotional pain to have a hard time sleeping or eating. Their persistent thoughts and feelings might not allow them to sleep.

Similarly, their extreme state of pain and stress could significantly affect their appetite. This will only magnify the pain they’re in as sleep and eating well are a huge part of a healthy mind and body.

Especially when a lack of sleep is present, those with extreme emotional pain could quickly spiral out of control.

It’s important to seek help regardless, but if emotional pain is so intense that it’s gotten to this point, you should speak to a professional counselor about your experiences with emotional pain.

Hopelessness and Shame

Feelings of hopelessness could be directed toward external circumstances that may not seem that bad otherwise.

When you’re experiencing this extreme sense of hopelessness, everything will seem extremely difficult. You may slip into depression and have to work toward overcoming that as well.

Feeling this way is common with emotional pain as you can lose sight of hope after being in such extreme pain for so long.

emotional and physical pain

Some people may even experience feeling shameful for their emotional state. They will seem extremely self conscious and apologetic about their behavior.

Since what they’re experiencing is so strong, they will feel like their negative behavior is obvious. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t.

Self Isolation

Unfortunately, when someone is going through an emotionally painful experience, they may tend to isolate themselves from family and friends.

They may say that they are too tired to meet up (which they very well might be due to how draining their experience is) or postpone plans often.

They may simply not feel like seeing anyone during this time or they may be so ashamed of their state that they feel they’re a “burden” to those around them.

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Physical Pain from Emotional Distress

Physical pain caused from emotional distress is more common than you might think. In fact there is a term for the type of physical pain that comes from emotional pain.

Psychogenic pain is mostly known as the physical pain that occurs due to stress anxiety and/or depression. Personally, I tend to hold tension from stress or anxiety in my neck and shoulders.

At one point, it was so bad that I was not able to turn my head to one side. While that is a more technical example, many believe that we hold specific feelings in certain areas of the body.

We all have a different set of worries and stressors depending on what’s going on in our lives. This can easily translate to various symptoms depending on where you carry your tension.

emotional and physical pain

It is also common for people to experience digestive issues when they’re under intense stress, fear or going through significant changes in life.

You may experience sharp stomach pains, lack of bowel movements, lower back pain and even vomiting and flu-like symptoms all from situations like this.

Another personal example I can share is that my sister and I both will get sick after releasing a lot of emotional stress. I’ve gotten sick after intense emotional family situations, after quitting a job I hated, things of that nature.

It may seem off but it’s as if the emotional intensity of that stress leaving itself had to manifest itself physically.

This article had a very psychological/spiritual approach to why certain areas of the body have pain due to emotions. While these theories may not resonate with some, I found a couple of them to completely relate to my own life. It’s pretty interesting – check it out!

Causes of Emotional Pain

There are several common causes of emotional pain that most of us might already have some experience with. Here are a few key examples.

Loss of a Loved One

Losing a loved one is always a difficult experience. Depending on the circumstance and emotional state of the individual, an occurrence such as this could send them into a deep state of emotional pain for a long time.

If nothing is done to help them mourne and heal in a healthy way, they may eventually develop several physical health issues because of it.


A divorce or breakup can also cause an unusual amount of emotional pain. If someone is blindsided with their significant other leaving them, it can cause a series of emotional events.

It is especially difficult if the individual dealing with the divorce/breakup is constantly trying to figure out what they could have done differently or trying to figure out why this happened in the first place.

emotional and physical pain

Beating themselves up and obsessing over the “what ifs” can easily spiral them into a very painful state of emotions.

Loss of a Job

Depending on how invested someone is in their job, losing it may seem severely devastating to them. Perhaps things in their personal life really depend on their job.

Or maybe they made drastic measures to make sure they could keep that job and it didn’t work out.

Whatever the situation may be, the loss of a job could be significant enough to send someone into a poor emotional state to where they’re experiencing a lot of pain.

Family Issues

They say family is the most important thing. While this may be so, families can often cause the most emotional pain out of anyone.

Having family issues may be so distressing to those involved that it causes emotional and physical pain. Having the stress of relationship issues within the family can become worse over time if there is no solution.

A Traumatic Experience

Witnessing or being part of a traumatic event can have serious impacts on a person’s emotional state.

Whether they were directly involved in the experience or not, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect them both emotionally and physically for years to come if not properly addressed.

Experiencing depression and anxiety to the extent of self harm has been seen as a result of PTSD. If you’re suffering with PTSD, getting professional help for yourself will be the best thing for you and your loved ones. 

Overcoming Emotional Pain

There are several things we can do to ease emotional distress and overcome the pain. Various self-care practices are great options for getting ahead of the serious effects that emotional pain can have.

Here are a few tips that can help you navigate through overcoming emotional pain.

Help/Care for Others

When you’re struggling to overcome your emotional pain, it can be beneficial to show some love to those around you.

Not only will it help you feel connected, but it can help make you feel as if you’re in abundance of emotional strength.

If the thought of being there for others when you’re going through a tough time makes you feel like you’re about to have a breakdown.

Showing some love or lending a helping hand to others when you’re struggling. 

Observe Yourself

Observing your thoughts and allowing yourself to heal is one of the first things you can do to overcome emotional pain.

If you can eliminate any resistance to your emotional pain, you’ll be able to go through it and heal faster, but also in a healthier way.

Try not to place blame on yourself that you shouldn’t, and give yourself the time you need to cope.

Focus on Your Strengths

When you’re emotionally strained and experiencing pain, remembering your strengths most likely will not be something that you’ll think to do.

Journaling is a great way to observe and appreciate yourself. Personally, when I’m not in the best emotional space, I like to write down all the things I’ve accomplished that are making me a better person.

Listing out things you’re grateful for can also help ease the emotional pain you’re experiencing.

Focus on Achieving Your Goals

If you’re lonely, feeling badly about yourself or not getting the attention from loved ones that you’re craving, what can you do?

Figure out that one (or few) thing(s) you want for yourself, make a plan and get to it! There is no better feeling than showing up for yourself and achieving an amazing goal for yourself!

Not only will you feel more fulfilled and happy, but relationships will improve. This is because you’re not relying on others in an unhealthy way.

You’ll enjoy your time spent with people you love knowing you’ve got your own back. Also, it’s a magical thing when you start going after the things you’ve always wanted.

Your life will change in so many ways that you would never have expected. Along this journey you’ll grow and develop stronger mindsets and emotional intelligence.

Having a big, amazing goal for yourself could be something that helps you through a difficult time in your life and propels you toward the next amazing chapter of your life.

Treatment Options for Emotional Pain

A Strong Self-Care Routine

Emotional pain will fade the better you take care of yourself. This does not just mean that you need to take a bubble bath and have a glass of wine once a week.

Self-care often involves doing things we might not want to do in order to do what’s best for us. Staying active, eating right and taking time to know yourself is what can help pull you through times of emotional pain.

Having a solid exercise routine along with challenging yourself with mindset growth using personal development will help you recover from emotional pain and avoid that level of intensity in the future.

Talking to a Professional

Talking to a professional counselor is an amazing approach when working through emotional difficulties.

A professional can help you understand things you may be struggling with. Additionally, it can help speed up the process of understanding yourself. 

Join a Group

Whether you opt for a support group or some kind of club, being part of a group can help you through difficult times.

Relating to people who are going through something similar is a great way to find strength in a difficult time.

Similarly, joining a club and/or getting involved in something fun can help you overcome a difficult time as well.

emotional and physical pain

Joining a club can help you see that there is more to life than the emotional difficulties you’ve been experiencing.

You might connect with someone and gain a new, amazing relationship as well. Joining a group is a great way to put yourself out there and be proactive about your healing process.

Dealing with emotional pain can become an overwhelming part of someone’s life. If someone you know is struggling emotionally, simply being there for them could make a world of difference.

If you’ve never experienced severe emotional pain yourself, it can be extremely lonely, depressing and can make someone feel horribly about themselves.

Knowing that it can eventually lead to physical pain is a great reason to try to be proactive and take care of yourself at the first sign of emotional pain and suffering. 

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References and Helpful Articles – physical pain and emotional paid


Hi, I'm Marissa! I'm passionate about mental and emotional health and want to share what I've learned over the years with others! I've seen first hand how mental health struggles can cause serious issues within relationships, work life, daily productivity, self-worth and more! I truly believe that we owe it to ourselves to bring more awareness to these life changing topics. Start your mental/emotional health journey by learning more today!

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