Negative emotions can make you sick – here are some ways to manage them
04/24/2019 // Zoey Sky // Views

Research has already determined a connection between chronic stress and poor physical health. But according to a study, there is a direct link "between negative emotions and increased inflammation in the body."

The study was conducted by researchers from Pennsylvania State University (PSU) and published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Inflammation occurs when the body tries to heal itself and fight against things that harm it, like infections, injuries, and toxins. This process includes the release of antibodies and proteins, along with increased blood flow to the damaged area.

This response may last for several hours or days in the case of chronic inflammation. However, high or chronic levels of inflammation are linked to a greater risk of different health conditions like arthritis, diabetes, or fibromyalgia.

How negative emotions affect your immune system

In the study, researchers found that over time, negative emotions have adverse effects on the immune system. These emotions can even increase your risk of various health problems.

The researchers used a two-tiered approach in the study. First, participants completed questionnaires about their feelings and mood both in the moment and over time. The assessments were conducted over a period of two weeks so the researchers could map the emotional profiles of the volunteers.

Next, the researchers assessed the immune system responses of the volunteers by testing blood samples for common markers of internal inflammation.

The results revealed that the individuals who "experienced negative emotions or bad moods several times throughout the day for extended periods had consistently higher inflammation biomarkers." The researchers noted that when the blood samples from these participants were tested right after a negative emotion had been experienced, levels of inflammation were the highest. (Related: The science behind “don’t go to bed mad” – Sleep strengthens negative memories, according to new research.)


On the other hand, positive emotions and moods were linked to lowered levels of inflammation. This was also the case even if the positive feelings were only experienced for a short period of time.

The participants involved in the study came from a wide range of ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds so the results represented a diverse society. However, the researchers acknowledged that further study on negative emotions and how they affect health is necessary to confirm the study findings.

Learn how to manage stress and negative emotions to improve your overall health

Both chronic stress and negative emotions are a known health risk. The latter can affect your immune system, impair cells at the DNA level, and aggravate chronic illnesses. Stress can also affect memory, and it can increase the risk of health problems like a heart attack or stroke.

The study results highlight the importance of mood, emotions, and outlook on physical health. The findings also imply the importance of managing stress levels to reduce its negative effects on your health.

The researchers are hopeful that healthcare professionals will use the findings to encourage patients to manage their stress and maintain a positive outlook in their daily lives.

Different methods may be required to improve the mood and outlook of each person struggling with stress and negative emotions. But you can start improving your outlook by exercising regularly and following a nutritious diet full of organic fruits and vegetables since these are both cornerstones of physical and emotional health.

You can also try other effective techniques for stress management such as deep breathing exercises, hot baths, or yoga. Other options include massage therapy, meditation, or daily spiritual practice.

Alternatively, you can look into adopting a pet, taking walks in a quiet park, or expressing daily gratitude to improve your mood and outlook on life.

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