Emotions have got great impact on your physiological and psychological state than you can imagine. They are responses caused by chemical reactions in the body. These chemicals are called hormones and are highly active in the body as they elicit both positive and negative responses. Negative emotions like anger, sadness, depression and rage are produced by varying degrees of the stress “fight, freeze or flight” chemicals known as adrenaline. Also, positive emotions like happiness, joy, kindness are triggered by chemicals such as endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin.
The release of these chemicals as a result of either wanted or unwanted changes in life such as unemployment , loss of friend or family, divorce, illness, job promotion , marriage and poor finance can either have adverse or beneficial effects on the body. Let’s see how emotions have impact on our mental health.
- Brain: Before any emotion whether anger or happiness happens, it must first affect the brain before other organs of the body are affected. As the chemicals for either positive or negative emotions are released, nerve signals from the alarm system of the brain increase alertness and responsiveness. Positive emotions affect our health positively while negative emotions have adverse effect on our health. In a case where any emotion is triggered, there is a release of the chemical called adrenaline into the blood or muscles in preparation for flight and fright especially in the face of danger. It also causes glucose to gush through our blood stream and muscles giving us the ability to respond faster, run faster, and make quicker decisions. It can also lead to increased intracranial pressure (headache), irritability and anxiety which are symptoms of mental illness. If these responses aren’t inhibited on time or the threat eliminated it can lead to exhaustion and finally death due to insufficient supply of blood to vital organs necessary for survival.
- Heart: The heart is a vital organ necessary for survival as it aids the pumping of blood around the body. When stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol) are released into the bloodstream, it causes increased breathing rate and increased blood pressure level which can lead to disease conditions like cardiovascular accident, renal failure. The average heart rate of a person is 80 beats per minute. However, anger can make our heart rate rise to 180 beats per minute. Anger or other stress factors has the same effect on our blood pressure. Experiencing anger can cause an average blood pressure of 120 over 80 to jump to 220 over 130 or higher. All these can affect the mental state causing malfunctioning in the brain.
- Kidney: Emotional states like anger, happiness causes the release of chemicals which can cause increase in blood pressure that can affect the kidney. Anxiety states which are mental conditions can have an increasing adverse effect on the kidneys by causing the release of excessive cortisol from the adrenal cortex of the kidneys which can lead to glucose production for supply of energy. Increased level of blood through the kidney can cause diabetes nephropathy.
- Liver: When cortisol and epinephrine are released in the case of traumatic stress or emotional state which are common in mental conditions, the liver produces more glucose, a blood sugar that would give you the energy for “fight or flight” in an emergency. This can result in increased sugar level in the body causing a metabolic condition known as diabetes mellitus.
- Reproductive organs: People juggle lots of personal, family, professional, financial and a broad range of other demands together across their life span. This can lead to emotions like stress, distraction, fatigue, especially when faced with situations like simultaneously caring for young children or other ill family members, coping with chronic medical problems, feeling depressed, experiencing relationship difficulties or abuse, dealing with work problems. All these are capable of decreasing the secretion of sex hormones causing low libido (low sexual drive).