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Emotional Pain Is Worse Than Physical Injury: Here’s Why

Pain is considered to have both physical and emotional aspects, along with sensory components. This is why the neurological connections between the perception of physical and social pain have been highlighted in neuroscience studies, indicating that there's a significant overlap between the two phenomena. [1]

Some studies say that emotional distress tends to cause more pain than physical injuries. A study published in the journal Psychological Science has shown that people with emotional pain have higher levels of pain than those with physical pain. Also, the prior type of pain has the ability to recur and hurt us again and again, while the latter is painful just once. [2]

Here's how emotional pain can cause you more pain than physical injuries.

1. Triggers Painful Memories

According to a study, cognitive states like memory and attention can either decrease pain or increase it. Unlike physical pain, emotional pain leaves behind a number of triggers and reminders, precisely in terms of memories, that bring back the pain anytime one comes across a circumstance that is comparable to or related to it. [3]

2. Causes Health Problems

There's a complex relationship between psychological stress and pain symptoms, as some studies say that traumatic or negative emotional experiences can trigger physical pain in response. While thinking back on a traumatic event from the past can help you achieve closure, dwelling on it will only increase your stress and lead you to a number of health issues such as altered brain chemistry, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes and weakened immune system.

3. Damages Our Mental Health

A single episode of emotional pain is sometimes enough to seriously harm the mental wellbeing of a person. For physical pain to have an impact on our psychological well-being, it should be extremely severe and traumatic. Long-term emotional pain may trigger depressive symptoms in individuals, which may lead them to a higher risk of abusive behaviour, alcohol use or substance abuse. [4]

4. Has Empathy Gaps

Empathy gap typically reflects our tendency to undervalue the impact of other mental states on our own behaviour and make choices that only take into account our current emotion, mood or state of being. These gaps make us underestimate our emotional pain and not physical pain. Therefore, when the emotional pain finally comes out, it causes more pain compared to physical pain.

To Conclude

We should treat our mental health with the same level of care and attention as our physical health. When we experience emotional injuries like rejection, failure, loneliness or guilt, our first concern should be to heal them, similarly as we rush to treat our physical wounds.

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