What turns emotional distress into real physical illness?
July 4, 2014 11:31 AM Subscribe
I've read that for everyone emotional distress can lower immune function, but it seems that certain people are more susceptible to falling into illness when in distress. I feel I am one of those people. What makes some people more susceptible to this transfer from the emotional to the physical than others?
posted by manderin to Human Relations (19 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
When I look over the years it seems apparent that emotional distress soon turns into a real physical illness. I had cancer more than once in my teens and 20's. And I kid you not that each time I got cancer it happened during a time where I was feeling very emotionally down about other things. The weird thing is that I would get into a stage where depression would completely remove my will to live and then a few month later I would get cancer and have to fight it which would give me some of that lost will.
For the past 3 weeks I had been feeling more depressed than I have in recent years due to an event that shook me. Ever since then I literally cannot get in a moving car without throwing up. I have to bring a baggie with me. I never suffered from motion sickness and this only started after this depression hit. But now for some reason I get in a car and my stomach starts spinning. After a day trip last week where I spent the entire 4 hour car ride to and from feeling nauseous and sometimes throwing up violently to the point I couldn't breath. I didn't even eat anything that entire day because I knew we'd be driving so I was throwing up plain stomach fluid and water. I said to my friend in the car "I don't know what's wrong with me. I can't possibly be pregnant." and he said, "You're not pregnant, you make yourself sick because you worry too much. When life gets hard you always end up in the hospital or at least sick in bed with a fever." I realized he's right- I do worry about things all the time. I lack peace of mind and looking back he is right that I've always gotten sick when my emotions are hard for me to deal with. I worry about not doing the responsible thing and letting people down. When I fail at something I feel like I fail not only myself but god and everyone around me. It's almost like I get so emotionally down due to certain events from my life that I lose the will to live and the body responds to that by attacking itself in some way. I know that sounds creepy, but looking back on things that's what it seems like. I would like to change this about myself, but I don't know where to start because I don't know what it is that makes me this way. I am an introvert by nature and perhaps introverts are more likely to be this way? Because introverts pull emotions inward instead of out? Maybe I should take up acting or something? Maybe people who get physically ill to this degree from emotional stuff just have crappier immune systems? I feel like there must be something different about me or the way I handle things that makes this happen. Any suggestions as to what I might be doing wrong and how I can fix this would be appreciated. I don't see why others can be depressed without puking all over the place while I can't seem to pull that off for long. Have there been any studies on this sort of thing?