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LGLWSM Newsletter 078 - Afflictions of the Heart
April 04, 2014

There is nothing more precious in life than love. It makes the world go round and we cannot live without it. But what happens when love breaks your heart?

Because of recent events, I became quite curious about why your heart actually feels pain when you experience a loss of some kind. I mean, your heart is a circulatory organ and has nothing to do with feelings.

Then something (negative) happens and your heart feels like it’s ripping in two, beats irregularly, and actually hurts. It can sometimes feel like someone is stabbing you in the chest with a really big knife.

I know in 2010 when I lost George my cat, I actually thought I was going to die. My heart ached for weeks and even months. But why?

stabbed heart image

Why Your Heart Hurts When You’re Sad

According to Robert Emery and Jim Coan, professors of psychology at the University of Virginia, when you experience heartache, it’s a blend of both emotional stress and a stress induced sensation in the chest, involving tightened muscles, increased heart rate, along with shortness of breath, and pain in the gut.

Too boot, emotional pain and physical pain involve the same regions of the brain, which suggests they are somehow intricately connected. How emotions trigger physical pain is still somewhat of a mystery today.

According to a 2009 study, activity in the brain region that regulates emotional reactions (called the anterior cingulate cortex), clarifies how emotions can trigger biological reactions. During high anxiety, the anterior cingulate cortex increases the activity of the vagus nerve, which starts in the brain and extends to the neck, chest, and abdomen. When the vagus nerve gets over-stimulated, it causes pain, particularly in the areas of the body to which it’s attached.

Feeling heartache isn’t the only way that physical pain and emotional pain are linked. Feeling empathy or sympathy for someone else also influences pain perception. In a paper published in a 2006 issue of Science, revealed that when a mouse experienced another mouse in pain or trouble, it’s sensitivity to pain also increases. When the mouse came in contact with a friendly unharmed mouse, it’s sensitivity levels decreased.

Another study of functional MRI’s supported this theory. Simple acts of kindness (helping someone in the grocery store), holding hands, and even someone smiling can blunt the brain’s response to physical threats or pain. In the study, several regions of the brain were involved in both anticipating pain and regulating negative emotions. These included the right anterior insula (regulates motor control and cognition), the superior frontal gyrus (involves self-awareness and sensory perception) and the hypothalamus (links the nervous system to the endocrine system).

The way your body is designed is truly fascinating but it is clear that more studies are needed to fully understand these intricate relationships. Feeling pain in your chest when you’re under emotional strain is very real to the person experiencing it. Feeling heartache is very profound indeed!

List of Organ/Body Associated Emotion

Chest - sadness, pain

Face - embarrassment, shame (also felt in the gut)

Gut - slyness, sneaky, pain, shame, butterflies, happiness, a bad feeling, suspicion, instinct

Whole body - hatred

Head (forehead/brain) - pain, intense emotional stress, stress

For the last two+ months, I’ve been losing my dog Ruff. This is why there was no newsletter last month. I just couldn’t concentrate long enough to complete it nor did I have the energy. Even though some tests have been run since that time, there are still no clear conclusions at this point.

However, my little dog is UP and wagging his tail and eating and sleeping and doing all the things that dogs do. He’s on several different medications (that are quite costly) and I’m giving him vitamins and good food to keep him as healthy as I can, for as long as he’ll allow it.

I know there will be a time when we have to say good-bye but that time isn’t here yet. I have been online trying to raise money to keep Ruff going! My page is here: Emergency Help for Ruff

Please do donate or share.

If you’re more of a people person and would like to help a family that’s in need, please check out my good friend Brigitte’s page. She is fighting to save her husband Paul (who is on dialysis) and they need a car badly. She’s a great lady! Her page is here: Help the Giunta Family

Sometimes, life gives you lemons! What you do with them is up to you! The answer is to keep on fighting for whatever cause(s) you believe in and never give up. There is always hope if you have a strong faith! XOXO

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