Negative emotions anxiety, anger, sadness, depression are adaptive for the individual. However, sometimes we find pathological reactions in some individuals, due to mismatch in frequency or intensity. When such a mismatch occurs, there may also be a health disorder, both mental (anxiety disorder, major depression, and others) and physical.
First, reactions of anxiety, sadness, depression and anger, which reach too intense or frequent levels tend to produce changes in behaviour, so that healthy habits (exercise and proper diet) are forgotten and behaviours develop addictive (such as smoking) or endangering our health.
Emotional reactions maintain intense levels of physiological activation, which can deteriorate our health if they become chronic. For example, patients taking hormonal replacement therapy, with high blood pressure, asthma, chronic headaches, or different types of dermatitis, have higher levels of anxiety and anger than the general population. High psychological activation may be associated with a certain degree of immunosuppressant, which makes us more vulnerable to the development of infectious diseases (such as influenza, herpes, etc.) or immunological type (lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, etc.).
While several of the reviews found in modern literature refer to how physical health intervenes in positive emotional states, little is said about this relationship in the opposite direction. The health of man is a complex process based on a bio-psycho-social balance.
Health and disease are states that are in dynamic equilibrium, and are co-determined by biological, psychological and social variables, all of them in constant mutation. On the other hand, emotions are psychological processes that, in the face of a threat to our physical or psychological balance, act to restore it, thus exercising an adaptive role. However, in some cases, emotions influence the contraction of diseases. The adaptive function of emotions depends on the evaluation that each person makes of the stimulus that jeopardises their balance, and the response they generate to face it.
Human health being a complex process of adaptation in which biological, psychological and social factors converge. Health, that state of physical, psychological and social well-being is not patrimony or exclusive responsibility of a single group or professional specialty. The concept of health is as the ‘state in which the organic being normally exercises all its functions’.
Health is not only the absence of disease, but it must be understood in a more positive way, as a continuous process that has a lot to do with the behaviour and lifestyle of a person or community, whereby man develops his abilities to the fullest, taking full advantage of his self-realisation as a personal entity and as a social entity.
In a healthy person, salutogenic potentials must be met, both mentally and at the level of the soma in complete relationship. That is why you should not overlook how psychological processes of emotional type influence health. Both positive emotions (joy, good humour, optimism) and negative emotions (like anger and anxiety) and stress influence health.
Apparently, disturbing emotions have a negative effect on health, thus favouring the appearance of certain diseases, since they make the immune system more vulnerable, which makes it impossible to function properly. On the contrary, positive emotions represent a benefit to our health, since they help to withstand the difficulties of a disease and facilitate their recovery.
Jason Smith did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.