Life is full of emotions. Joy, sadness, absolute happiness or unhappiness. After these intense experiences, the body reacts.
But why are all these feelings often translated into physical pain? For example, why in a separation the heart "cracks"? And how realistic is this feeling?
The truth is that our emotions are body functions that include the mind, the nervous system and the hormones that control heart rate, breathing, digestion, sleep and many other body functions.
Research also reveals that physical and psychological pain results from the same areas of the brain, including the anterior cingulate cortex.
According to a 2009 study by Arizona and Maryland Universities, the key is the activity in this brain area that regulates emotional reactions in the anterior, i.e., cortex of the adjective. More simply, during a particularly stressful experience, this section can respond by increasing the activity of the vagus nerve (the nerve that starts from the brain stem and connects to the neck, chest and abdomen). When the vagus nerve is over-stimulated, it can cause pain and nausea.
The same logic exists in the case that we feel distressed on behalf of someone else. Empathy can affect the perception of our pain.
On the contrary, simple acts of social courtesy, such as when a couple is hand held by hand, can mitigate the brain's reaction to threats of physical pain and thus reduce the pain experience.
Although the biological elements governing these links between physical and mental pain are not fully understood, studies reveal that their relationship is so inextricably linked that it rationalizes the translation of true mental pain into physical.