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Could My Symptoms Be Caused by My Emotions?

Updated: Sep 14, 2022

One of the most amazing things that I've experienced as a healer working with all kinds of people, whether children, adults, wealthy, of modest means, sick or well, professional or layperson, man or woman, religious or atheist, from many cultures, and everything in between, as well as in my own healing journey, is that there is always an emotional component to tension patterns and inflammation in the body.

We experience the physiologic effects of our emotions on our body everyday. Some examples are when someone who you are excited to be in a romantic relationship with calls and you feel your heart flutter, or when watching a tender moment in a movie and you feel tears of emotion well up, or when watching your son or daughter graduate from school or get married, or hearing something really funny and you laugh so hard you cry. These types of emotions have healing effects on the body by triggering the rest and heal nervous system (parasympathetic), release the feel good neurotransmitters in the brain oxytocin and GABA, and reduce inflammation.

On the other side of this, maybe you get called into your bosses office unexpectedly expecting something negative, or when taking an exam you are anxious about, waiting for a potentially challenging medical diagnosis, going before a judge, or maybe giving a presentation to a group of people. Feeling your heart speed up, your stomach tighten and maybe even the palms of your hands sweat is a real physiologic reaction to a perceived threat on your mind's part. Or maybe when driving, your heart suddenly races and you hold your breath in alarm when someone absent mindedly cuts into your lane and you have to swerve to avoid hitting them. These feelings create physiologic responses in the fight, flight or freeze nervous system.

If feelings like this are short term, they generally don't cause lasting tension patterns or inflammation in the body because the body is able to resolve their effects. But what if that car that cut in front of you caused you to crash into the highway median, totaling your car and causing an injury that forced you to quit working for a time? That could impact your life in many significant ways. The emotions that would arise from that kind of experience would likely not resolve quickly like the first examples. Feelings like fear from not having an income, physical pain from injuries and anger at the driver who caused you to crash, or other aspects of the situation, would likely be present. This could put your body into a fight or flight "dominant" state the majority of the time, eventually resulting in pain, inflammation, lowered immune function, weight gain, sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, and cravings for dopamine and serotonin stimulating foods and drink (like sugar and alcohol), which would further exacerbate inflammation in the body.

But sometimes, it's not a sudden, life changing incident that creates stressful emotions, but things that happened early in life, what is now being called "adverse childhood experiences" (ACES). These can create deep seated beliefs that we are not safe in the world, or not worthy of love, respect or care. Another example of long term stress could be working in a job that you need for income to survive but having to be subjected a controlling, demeaning boss every day. These can result in a constant state of fight or flight stress.

So how do we transform the beliefs that are keeping us feeling unsafe and instead create peace and healing in the body? The first step is to create safety in our mind and emotions. Simply acknowledging that we even have these feelings of fear, anger and hurt can start to shift our subconscious mind from a state of "I'm not safe" to "I'm safe." This is because we are acknowledging our own experience. We are becoming our own advocate.

To our subconscious mind, this creates a sense of trust and safety within ourselves because we are not in denial or avoiding our feelings, we are willing to feel them. We are listening to our mind and emotions, which is what we didn't have when we were children or at other times that we were hurt, which is what created the feelings that we weren't safe in the first place. When we acknowledge our feelings our mind starts to relax because we are not "abandoning" ourselves through avoidance anymore.

Dr. John Sarno was the pioneering pain medicine physician who coined the term "Tension Myoneural Syndrome" (TMS) to give a name to the physiologic effects of repressed emotions on the body from a medical perspective. He found in caring for thousands of patients, that repressed anger was the emotion most associated with the formation of physical symptoms like pain, inflammation, gut flora changes, anxiety, depression, lowered immune system function, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, etc.

It requires faith on our part to acknowledge that we have repressed anger. This is because our culture, especially in the west, does not allow for the expression of anger. When we are children and are being hurt or abused, rejected or abandoned, or not being provided a safe environment or safe relationships, we can feel fear and shame, but we also feel anger. Often as humans, our anger frightens us because we know that if we express it, we can be rejected. Being rejected by our caregivers is terrifying because we instinctively know that without their care we could perish. So we learn to repress that anger. But the body doesn't repress it; it holds it.

We may be fine health-wise for a long time, even with repressed anger, but if a situation comes into our experience that triggers the original hurts, our repressed fear and anger can awaken, which we will repress. This causes our body to go into a protective mode and create temporary, non-life threatening (the vast majority of the time) inflammation and pain. Healing begins when we can connect the dots and allow ourselves to firstly, consider that we may have anger about something happening currently or that is unresolved from the past, and being willing to acknowledge it.

Often times simply acknowledging our anger can resolve the symptoms completely. Other times we may need some counseling support to get in touch with the anger, especially if there is a lot of fear around having feelings of anger or if there has been significant emotional, physical or sexual abuse trauma.

I have personally been healed from 6 different TMS symptoms over the years, one of which was so debilitating it may have been life threatening. In all of those cases when I acknowledged the emotions and anger at the root of them, and gave it them to Jesus in faith, they resolved. Some resolved immediately, and some it required a few times of praying and acknowledging my feelings and reassuring my mind that nothing was inherently wrong with my body and it would heal.

Today an entire field of medical study, research and practice has blossomed which gives people medical and coaching support to work work through this personal discovery and healing process with amazing results.

I support people with intuitive coaching for healing their mind-body symptoms what can be called miraculous resolution of symptoms that even years of medical treatments and drugs could not help. For more information on this incredible healing approach, check out

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