Everyone experiences a wide range of emotions, so it is important to recognize the way they impact physical and mental health, because then you can minimize their impact. In addition, if you experience a core emotion for an extended period of time, then you may seek temporary relief through drug or alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, this practice is dangerous, because it could lead to addiction. Learn about core emotions and how they impact physical and mental health, and then learn to manage these emotions in a healthy manner.
How Anger Affects Addiction
Trained in both traditional and natural medicine, Dr. Mercola speaks about anger in his post, New Study Shows Profound Impact of Anger on Your Health… He discusses the connection between the mind and body when experiencing anger. While anger starts as an emotional state, it then causes a mental reaction that triggers the following physical reactions:
- Increased heart rate, arterial tension and testosterone
- Decreased cortisol (the stress hormone)
- Stimulation of the brain’s left hemisphere, which is involved in experiencing emotions related to closeness
People need to learn how to resolve anger quickly and calmly to return balance to their physical and mental states. Unresolved anger can lead to the following physical issues:
- Weakened immune system
- Problems with digestion
- Increased anxiety
- High blood pressure
- Skin problems, such as eczema
- Heart attack
In addition to broadly impacting physical state, unresolved anger can also extend into a broader range of negative emotions including hopelessness, futility and depression.
How Shame Affects Addiction
In her post, What is Toxic Shame?, experienced family and marriage counselor Darlene Lancer reveals the physical and emotional damage of shame. Strong shame stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which accelerates the heart rate, constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure. As often occurs with shame, people engage in a flight or fight reaction that prevents them from thinking clearly. In addition to having the potential of attacking others, much of the harmful thoughts and behaviors are directed inward.
It is important for people to address shame, as it can lead to aggression, depression, eating disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder and addiction. In addition to its physical impact on our bodies, unresolved shame can also cause low self-esteem, anxiety, irrational guilt, perfectionism and codependency.
How Fear Affects Addiction
As a core emotion, fear also presents itself in physical ways. The primary role of fear is to prepare us to react to danger, so it causes the body to go through the following physical changes:
- Releases hormones that slow or shut down functions not needed for survival
- Releases other hormones that sharpen functions are necessary for survival
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood flow to muscles
- Increased flow of hormones to the brain to focus on the presenting danger, and then it stores that information in the memory
Unresolved fear can cause considerable physical damage by weakening the immune system, causing cardiovascular damage and gastrointestinal problems. Because chronic fear can impair parts of the brain’s functioning, it makes it very difficult for fearful people to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and other information, reflect before acting and act ethically.
Lacking the ability to think clearly and make good decisions puts people at risk for behaving in impulsive and destructive ways.
How Sadness Affects Addiction
In her post, What Are the Physical Side Effects of Sadness?, Vita Ruvolo-Wilkes (a physician’s assistant) speaks about the following physical effects of sadness:
- A rise in blood pressure and blood sugar
- Unbalanced blood chemistries, which can eventually lead to heart disease, dehydration and anorexia
- Decreased sex drive
- Increased sleep problems
- Digestive issues leading to either constipation or diarrhea
- Altered brain chemistry that can result in forgetfulness, listlessness, lack of motivation, despair and discouragement
- Loss of appetite
People who suffer with sadness are at risk for abusing drugs or alcohol to engage people socially and to alleviate their distress.
How Joy Affects Addiction
Doyle Gentry, Ph.D., author, educator, scientist, consultant and clinical psychologist, has a career that spans 30 years. As the author of Happiness for Dummies, he details the following benefits associated with joy:
- Broadens your focus and expands your thinking
- Improves your ability to problem-solve
- Builds physical, intellectual and social resources
- Counteracts negative emotions
- Protects your health
Joy powerfully contributes to a balanced mental and physical state. If you struggle with negative core emotions and have had physical and behavioral disturbances in response, then it is important to seek help. You can learn how to manage the negative core emotions and lead a more joyful life in addiction recovery.
Learn More About Core Emotions
Core emotions need to be understood and managed in a healthy manner, but this task is difficult to achieve. Get as much information about the resources you have to manage core emotions effectively, which may mean you need help. Please call our toll-free helpline now, as our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have about treatment options.