Appropriate Expression Of Emotions Improves Health.

We have seen from several other articles that I have previously published on this site that the experience of severe and protracted childhood trauma leaves us, as adults, at increased risk of developing depression, anxiety, other psychiatric disorders as adults, as well as to experiencing distressing and persistent negative emotions in general (e.g. shame, guilt, anger etc.).

Because the experience of negative emotions can be so painful, many try to suppress them and ‘hold them in the body‘ rather than, say, address both the emotions and the root causes of the emotions with the help of a therapist. However, the act of constantly expending energy on suppressing powerful feelings can create internal chemical and biological changes that take their toll upon the body in numerous ways and I describe the main ones below :

RESPIRATORY EFFECTS : e.g. nervous and / or irritable cough, a sense of breathlessness, yawning, sighing, hyperventilation, 

NEUROLOGICAL EFFECTS: e.g. headaches, dizziness, derealization, depersonalization, disturbances of vision, increased sensitivity to light, sound and touch, ‘pins and needles’

MUSCULOSKELETAL EFFECTS : e.g. clenched jaw, sense of tension in muscles, twitching muscles, cramps, extreme fatigue in response to exercise, joint pain

DERMATOLOGICAL EFFECTS: e.g. exacerbation of psoriasis, flushing, rashes, eczema

CARDIOVASCULAR EFFECTS : e.g. skipped heart beats, chest pain, palpitations, tachycardia.

GASTROINTESTINAL EFFECTS: e.g. bloating, constipation, nausea, dry throat, impaired ability to swallow, stomach ache, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


Specific negative emotions (hurt, guilt, depression, anxiety, anger) can have different adverse affects upon the body and I provide examples below :

HURT : Sighing, down-turned mouth, crying, heavy feeling in stomach.

GUILT : Possible self-harm, eyes cast downward.

DEPRESSION : Psychomotor retardation, hunched shoulders.

ANXIETY : Psychomotor agitation, disturbed sleep resulting in impaired immune system and increased susceptibility to opportunistic infections.

ANGER : Dilated pupils, skin flushes.


Suppressing emotions and ‘holding them in the body‘ has been shown by research to impair the body’s ability to produce particular cells that protect us from illness and disease, or, in other words, weaken our immune system.

For example, one study that was carried out showed that simply expressing one’s emotions can be beneficial to one’s health. The participants in the study spent twenty minutes per day, for four days, writing about a powerful emotional experience they had had and carrying out this straight-forward task was shown to strengthen their immune systems.


We can infer from the above that expressing our emotions appropriately and giving them a safe outlet (ideally under the guidance of a suitably qualified and experienced therapist) can improve not only our mental health, but our physical health, too.

How to express your emotions | Self Hypnosis Downloads.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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About David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Psychologist, researcher and educationalist.

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