Can Emotional Trauma Cause Physical Symptoms?
A lot of people are either oblivious or seem to dismiss the effect that emotional wounds have on the physical body so I wanted to share here the impact emotional wounds have on your health and general wellbeing.
First, let’s say emotions are energy in motion. If you have followed me for a while you would have heard me say that I believe emotion is the language of the soul. Processing emotions is how your Soul ‘learns’ life lessons through processing the emotions that emerge through life experience. You process emotions by simply “feeling” the emotion. I know this sounds simple but it really is that simple and it is only when you feel the emotion that you can truly embody the wisdom of each experience.
Emotions are not only energy but, on the physical level, emotions are also biochemical reactions that occur inside your body.
Dr Candace Pert discovered that each emotion has a particular peptide, meaning that you can trace emotions of anger, sadness, joy, love and so on inside your body.
Emotions that are not ‘processed’ – and by processed, I mean ‘felt’ as I mentioned above – will remain inside your body and depending on the emotion and how you react to it, the emotion will attach itself to specific organs, muscles or even joints. Remember that emotions are energy in motion, emotions need to flow and hence they are always looking for ways to be expressed and if they’re ‘stuck’ inside your body and not allowed to flow out, they will express themselves physically through dis-ease or illness.
Where the emotions get stuck really depends on the individual and how they react to the emotion. Do they deny it, are they ashamed by it, do they project it, do they try to control it or get angry at having it… all these play a part in how the suppressed emotion manifests in the body and through your health. So it’s impossible to say it will be the same for everyone as context here is important.
I did a Soul Reading on a client a while back, she wanted to know what was the cause of her arthritis at such a young age, I think she was in her mid-30s. When I tuned into her body, in particular arthritis, I felt anger, I could feel her body recoil and hold back trying to hide her emotion. I could feel that she was trying to ‘control’ her reaction of anger when she was not able to control people but men in particular. Instead, she would repress the anger and disconnect from it to try to numb it out almost pretending she was not angry to ‘play it cool’ although it would come out as passive-aggressive comments and behaviour. She confirmed her reaction and said she didn’t want people to perceive her as “angry” so instead held it all inside but the cost of not processing her emotion was painful joints which was only progressively getting worse.
So literally speaking your body is your subconscious mind. Your body, or should I say your health, reflects all the emotions you have suppressed over time, that are stuck or trapped ‘dying’ to get out!
Louise L. Hay is another pioneer that tracked how emotions affect our health. You can check out her book Heal Your Body for more info on specific conditions and the emotional component associated with it.
I want to emphasize that trauma is not just physical, it can be mental or emotional. For example getting fired can be a trauma, being constantly criticized as a child is extremely traumatic and has huge impacts on the child’s self-esteem. Regardless of what kind of trauma it is, if it is not processed it will eventually affect all your subtle bodies meaning your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual body. My point here is just because emotional trauma is not ‘physical’ does not mean it won’t affect your physical body.
Emotions from a more spiritual perspective are the language of the Soul.
It is how your Soul processes life experiences so if you do not process your emotions you energetically remain stuck in that ‘unprocessed experience’, repeating negative patterns… for life! You basically imprison yourself by choosing not to feel your emotions or process your emotional wounds. The good news is that you have the key when you decide to finally “FEEL” the depths of your emotional pain. Feeling your emotions is a choice, just like healing is a choice. This choice to feel has to stem from a willingness that comes from your heart. It’s not an intellectual decision but a heartfelt emotional one to feel.
Energetically suppressed emotions actually “weigh” heavy in your energy field, on top of that the amount of energy you expend on pushing these emotions down consciously or unconsciously to ‘control’ yourself or ‘hold yourself together’ will exhaust you. You will always feel tired, even after a good sleep, you will still feel exhausted and no amount of rest or sleep can help you recover because it’s not about the sleep but the energy you are using up to suppress or repress your emotional wounds. Imagine thirty years or more of emotions and it keeps piling up every emotion weighing let’s say metaphorically 10kgs. As the years go on and you continue to choose not to process them and you repeat the pattern you keep adding another 10kg to your energy field. There will come a point when you physically cannot ‘carry’ it anymore. I really believe all these new conditions like chronic fatigue and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is a direct result of people not processing their emotions and literally carrying it around with them.
I worked with a client a long time ago that was diagnosed with lupus, she had so much grief from both her mother and twin sister committing suicide a year or so apart from each other. These traumas had such a strong impact on her that she no longer wanted to live. She felt she could not continue to live a joyful life after these horrific and sad experience and created deep beliefs around wanting to die which as a result manifested physically as ‘lupus’. She had a lot of guilt around even feeling joy or happiness and not accepting what happened. I have really summed things up here. We worked solidly together for a year but I remember around month 8 she was lupus free! She is now living a healthy and happy life with her wonderful husband and has never been so filled with joy.
On the mental level, emotions are processed in the limbic system of the brain.
A traumatic memory you haven’t processed is a part of you stuck in time caught in a loop in the limbic system part of the brain. This is the part of the brain that processes experiences and emotions, it stores memories, controls thoughts and sensory inputs as well as regulates hormones. If there are unresolved childhood trauma, your brain will be wired to be in a constant state of fight or flight, basically you will be in survival mode even when there are no signs of danger. You will be hyper-vigilant and on alert 24/7 while this traumatic event gets replayed over and over again like a broken record in the limbic loop. You will be reactive and super sensitive to anything that happens both on the outside and in your inner world as if you are always at war, waiting for the next ‘attack’.
In reality, you are seeking safety, you want to feel safe but because you’re stuck in the trauma you are in a constant state of fear whether you are aware of this or not. As long as these traumas remain unprocessed you will remain stuck in this fight or flight state.
Most people that grew up with abusive parents or who experienced a lot of childhood trauma never learn how to turn off their fight or flight because they are in essence experiencing their traumas on a daily basis. Being in a state of fight or flight is great when you are in the moment of danger but we are not built to be in survival mode for life.
When you are in the fight or flight state, your heart rate and breathing increase while your immunity functions and digestion are slowed down. Basically a reduction of non-essential immediate functions to increase your energy to ‘fight or flight’. Obviously, this is not sustainable for life.
There are many studies now showing that stress, in other words, being in a constant state of fight or flight for a long long time causes a number of illnesses including: asthma, ME, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes type 1 & 2, bipolarity, psoriasis and other skin conditions, chronic infections, to name a few…
Another client I worked with started having blackouts randomly in meetings, at the office, while walking so it was getting to a critical point. The doctors said it was stress and there was nothing they could do. We worked together for around three months and I focused on all the emotions he was not able to process. He had opened up a business about a year previously that was failing. He received a lot of investment initially and was carrying tremendous guilt, shame, fears of failure and all sorts. Although in the end, he had to close the business down, after working together to accept his ‘failure’ and take responsibility, process the guilt, learn the lessons etc. his blackouts all of a sudden disappeared!
When it comes to trauma, while the rest of your consciousness grows and evolves, that traumatic part of you remains stuck. Very often you will cut off awareness to this part of you and push those emotional wounds so far into your shadow that you may even forget the trauma altogether. Because you have not emotionally processed and accepted what happened in the event, or grieved the loss, it continues to re-trigger your survival response whether you are aware of this or not. You have probably become used to being in the survival state so it’s “normal” to you. The opposite, feeling safe, secure and relaxed is not normal and sometimes can even create anxiety if you attempt to get yourself back into “balance”.
Have you been affected by an emotional wound that ended up affecting your health? How did it manifest and what did you need to do to heal? Let me know in the comments below.
If you need support on your healing journey and want more personalized guidance check out my Intuitive Coaching & Emotional Healing Sessions and let’s get you started on getting your life back.
All techniques and information I share are considered coaching, self-help or complementary therapies. I am not a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist or medical doctor, I have a degree in Health Sciences in Complementary Therapies. Everything I write and talk about comes mainly from my own experience in healing myself and the tools, techniques, and resources I learned throughout my own inner journey.
Follow me on social media:
If you enjoyed this blog, feel free to share it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest
by using the super-easy share buttons below!