You're breaking my... left hand?
September 12, 2010 9:26 AM Subscribe
Is it normal to experience emotional distress as physical pain?
posted by anonymous to health & fitness (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm female and almost 40. When I experience strong emotional distress, my left arm aches. The more intense the sadness, the more acutely I feel the pain spread towards my fingers. At worst, it really hurts a lot.
I realize the symptom could be worrisome if it were a recent development, but this has been going on for as long as I can remember, ever since I was a kid. It has never really worried me, probably because I got used to it from such an early age on and for a long time assumed it's just the way the human body works.
I'm otherwise very healthy and fit and have never had any reason to suspect coronary disease or anything like that. (I did break the arm in question once when falling from a tree as a small child, and later again in my 20's in a sports accident.)
I tried to ask some friends once as a teenager if this is how they experience sadness/loneliness/despair/etc. too - if everyone feels it as physical pain? They more or less rolled their eyes and seemed to imply it was just some kind of "waaah, look at me suffer" kind of BS from my part. Embarrassing. So I deduced this is somewhat unusual.
I know emotional distress, hurt or e.g. an anxiety attack can manifest itself in all sorts of psychosomatic physical symptoms or illnesses, but I always thought the mechanisms would be more subtle or subconscious, especially in cases when one bottles up their feelings or tries to ignore them, which I don't think is the case with me. When I'm acutely sad and especially if I really let myself wallow in self-pity, I can simply feel my heart just pump the pain into my arm. It's weird.
What exactly could be causing it?
Is there any reason to be alarmed?
Anonymous, because I think I'm a freak.