Can you die from emotional pain

Can You Die From a Broken Heart? – Morning Sign Out at UCI

Written by Sukhman Rehki

Image by Goran Horvat from Pixabay

If you’re like most people, there has been at least one instance in your life where you have dealt with a broken heart. If you haven’t, it’s that soul-crushing pain that one feels after a horrible break up or the death of a loved one. If you’ve ever wondered if you could die from the emotional distress, the unfortunate answer is yes.

While rare, death by what is known as broken heart syndrome is very much possible. Individuals that experience the effects of the syndrome are typically female and have pre-existing mental health concerns, such as untreated depression or severe anxiety disorders. It’s even possible to have a case of broken heart syndrome despite a physically healthy body and no previous history of heart disease [1].  

Broken heart syndrome, otherwise known as stress cardiomyopathy, causes extreme chest pain, which enlarges the heart temporarily and leads to short-term muscle failure [2]. Although very similar to the symptoms of a heart attack, broken heart syndrome does not block the arteries when under intense emotional pain, and has a much higher rate of survival. This condition was not studied until 1990 [1]. Physicians are still in the process of fully understanding the signs, symptoms and treatment.

Regardless of the availability of treatment options, there are various steps that can be taken in order to prevent the condition from occurring. The primary coping mechanism that researchers have found is learning how to manage personal stress [3]. While stress management looks different in every individual, researchers have the following suggestions that work best to maintain a healthy physical and mental lifestyle.

Although maintaining a balanced diet, exercising frequently and sustaining a healthy weight are all great ways to prevent the condition from existing, it is also suggested that individuals meditate or practice relaxation therapy frequently, quit smoking and alcohol-related behaviors and get adequate sleep. Other behaviors that may also be useful are finding an enjoyable hobby and learning to say no and creating boundaries that prevent stress overload. If you are an individual that particularly struggles with stress management, psychologists and physicians also highly recommend participating in a prevention program or taking medicine, as a last resort [4].

While the shock and distress of losing a loved one is never easy, let this condition be a reminder that taking care of yourself during this time is equally as important as processing grief.

1. Scutti, Susan. “Can you really die from a broken heart?” CNN. 29 Dec. 2016. Web. 17 May 2017.
2. “Is Broken Heart Syndrome Real?” American Heart Association. 2016. Web. 18 May 2017.
3. “How Can Broken Heart Syndrome Be Prevented?” National Lung, Heart and Blood Institute. US Department of Health and Human Services. 2014. Web. 19 May 2017.
4. “Learn to manage stress.” Medline Plus. US National Library of Medicine. 2016. Web. 20 May 2017.

Posted on Author morningsignoutCategories UncategorizedTags 2017, Sukhman Rehki, Wellness

Stress Breaks Hearts

Emotional Stress Alters Heart Function, Ups Heart Disease Risk

Written by Daniel J. DeNoon

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on September 20, 2007

Sept. 20, 2007 -- Here's a health fact most of us understand better than our doctors do: Emotional stress really can harm our hearts.

Intense grief, acute anger, and sudden fear can have direct -- sometimes fatal -- effects on the human heart. And long-term emotional stress shortens lives by increasing the risk of heart disease, notes Daniel J. Brotman, MD, director of the hospitalist program at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore.

"What is intuitive to people is not necessarily intuitive to physicians," Brotman tells WebMD. "Emotional stress, conceptually, is the same thing for cardiovascular risk as physical stress. But a lot of doctors blow that off, because they think emotional stress is a psychological problem, not a physical problem."

To overcome this false impression, Brotman and colleagues reviewed recent studies looking at the short- and long-term effects of emotional stress on the heart. Their resulting report, "The Cardiovascular Toll of Stress," appears in the Sept. 22 issue of The Lancet.

"In the hospital, I see people under all sorts of stress all the time -- and I see what happens to bodies under stress," Brotman says. "Our study illustrates how important the body's stress responses are in precipitating cardiovascular effects."

Psychological disorders, personality types, and other psychological stressors are linked to various heart problems:

  • People who suffer from depression, hopelessness, or a pessimistic outlook are more likely than others to suffer heart attackand sudden heart death. They are more likely to develop conditions that increase heart risk, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and impaired heart rate.
  • People who suffer chronic anxiety are more likely than others to suffer heart attack, atrial fibrillation, and sudden heart death. Their propensity for high blood pressure and impaired heart rate increases their heart risk.
  • Emotional trauma -- such as the death of a spouse, mental or physical abuse, or posttraumatic stress disorder -- increases risk of heart attack and heart death.
  • People with type D personalities (characterized by pessimistic emotions and inability to share emotions with others) and type A personalities (characterized by anxiety directed outward as aggressive, irritable, or hostile behaviors) are more likely than others to suffer heart attacks.
  • People with angry or hostile temperaments are more likely than others to suffer heart death.
  • Acute fear, grief, startling, or anger can cause "stunned heart." Wallops of emotion also can cause sudden death due to life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm.

Even when intense bouts of emotion don't kill, they may cause long-lasting heart damage.

"Most people who suffer the death of a loved one are not coming to medical attention, but that does not mean their hearts are not stunned for a period of time," Brotman says. "We doctors only see those with heart failure, or those with already-damaged hearts whose defibrillators fire. But probably, in every body, what stress hormones do today have some impact on how healthy your cardiovascular system will be 20 years from now."

It would seem to be wise for all of us to learn to deal with stressful emotions. But Brotman warns that there does not seem to be any one-size-fits-all way to do this.

"We don't have concrete evidence to suggest that if you manage your stress levels you will reduce your cardiovascular risk," he says. "People are different and have different ways of reducing stress. It is disingenuous to suggest that stress reduction is going to be simple."

Meanwhile, he urges doctors to pay more attention to what their patients are telling them when they talk about stress.

"Real-time physical effects correlate with intense emotional states," Brotman says. "We should think beyond cholesterol, beyond blood pressure, when thinking about what it means to live a heart-healthy lifestyle."

Broken Heart Syndrome: a disease "out of the head" from which you can die

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Image copyright, Getty Images

Your heart can suffer after some unfortunate event, and your brain is most likely responsible for your "heartbreak", experts say.

Swiss scientists are conducting a study on the so-called "broken heart syndrome".

Psychological stress can cause acute transient left ventricular dysfunction. The syndrome is manifested by the sudden development of heart failure or chest pain, combined with ECG changes characteristic of myocardial infarction of the anterior wall of the left ventricle.

  • Scientists have found out how stress causes heart disease

Most often, this syndrome develops against the background of stressful situations that cause strong, often sharply negative, emotions. Such events can be the death of a loved one or separation.

Scientists do not yet have complete clarity on how this happens. In the publication of scientists in the medical journal European Heart Journal, it is suggested that the syndrome is provoked by the brain's response to stress.

The "broken heart syndrome" was first described by the Japanese scientist Hikaru Sato in 1990 and was named "takotsubo cardiomyopathy" (from the Japanese "takotsubo" - a ceramic pot with a round base and a narrow neck).

Image copyright Getty Images

This is different from a "normal" heart attack, when blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked. Blockage of blood flow to the heart occurs when there is a blood clot in the coronary arteries.

However, the symptoms of broken heart syndrome and heart attack are similar in many ways, most notably difficulty breathing and chest pain.

  • Scientists: the brain of boys and girls reacts differently to severe stress
  • Scientists: early baldness can be a sign of heart disease

Often some sad event is a kind of trigger that provokes the onset of the syndrome. However, joyful events that cause strong emotions can also lead to the development of broken heart syndrome. For example, getting married or getting a new job.

Broken heart syndrome can be temporary, in which case the heart muscle will recover in a few days, weeks or months, and in some cases the syndrome can be fatal.

In Britain, about 2500 patients are diagnosed with broken heart syndrome each year.

Image copyright Christian Templin, University Hospital Zurich

Image caption

X-ray of the heart of a person diagnosed with takotsubo syndrome

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The exact cause of broken heart syndrome is unknown to scientists. However, it is suggested that this syndrome may be associated with an increase in the level of stress hormones - for example, adrenaline.

Elena Gadri from the University Hospital Zurich, together with her colleagues, studied the brain activity of 15 patients diagnosed with broken heart syndrome.

Imaging data showed significant differences in the brain activity of these patients from that observed in 39 participants in the control group, who were healthy.

Much less communication has been noted between the areas of the brain responsible for controlling emotions and the body's unconscious (automatic) responses (such as the heartbeat).

"Emotions are formed in the brain, so it is quite possible that the disease is formed in the brain. And then the brain sends the appropriate signals to the heart," says Gadry.

Further research is needed to understand the mechanism of the syndrome.

The Swiss scientists who conducted the study had no CT scans of the patients before they were diagnosed with broken heart syndrome. Therefore, researchers cannot claim that the reduction in connections between different parts of the brain was a consequence of the development of the syndrome, or that the syndrome developed due to the reduction in connections.

"This is a very important part of the study, it will help us better understand the nature of this syndrome, which is often overlooked, and it continues to be a mystery to us," says Joel Rose, head of the British organization Cardiomyopathy.

"These studies will help us understand what role the brain plays in the syndrome and why some people are affected and others are not," says Joel Rose.

"These observations confirm our long-standing assumption about the special role of the connection between the brain and heart in the formation of takotsubo cardiomyopathy," says researcher Dana Dawson from the British Heart Foundation.

how to relieve heartache and live happily? — 7spsy

08/05/2019Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“I don't even know how to describe what I felt. Well, what could I say? "Something I'm in a lousy mood." But it's not even close to what it was in reality. It's like a funnel inside. Huge, constantly buzzing, sucking everything that happens around. Any joy sucks and leaves only pain and emptiness. Such pain that you want to scratch your chest and grab it, squeeze it so that it doesn’t hurt. Thoughts of only one thing, this fucking pain. Also, when will this all end? How to drown out such mental pain at least a little? And desire one. To live until the evening to go to bed. Sleep is the only salvation. I guess I still haven't really recovered."

— Marina, 34 years old

Mental pain can cause very severe suffering. Alas, relatives and friends cannot always support us, especially if the reason, in their opinion, is insignificant or not obvious. Instead of sympathy, you can run into accusations in the style of “you are mad with fat, there are children in Africa who are starving, you have nothing to worry about.” But it does hurt. And accusations often only increase the pain. How to escape from this trap? How to relieve pain and learn to feel joy and happiness again? This is what today's article is about.


1. How does mental pain hurt?

  • Pain can become habitual
  • Worries can lead to physical illness
  • Worries can lead to depression and similar illnesses

2. Why does it hurt so much?

  • Causes of mental pain
  • Signs of mental pain

3. How to survive mental pain?

When does mental pain become a habit?

4. How do you deal with severe emotional pain?

  • You are much stronger than you think
  • Find positive moments in what happened
  • Be active, do not close yourself in yourself
  • Make time for actions, not worries
  • Use special help programs

What hurts mental pain?

Constant worries in themselves cause discomfort and reduce the quality of life. But there are other, not always obvious consequences of prolonged mental pain.

1. Pain can become habitual

The way we react to circumstances can become habitual. We can habitually give up in case of failures, automatically engage in self-flagellation, out of inertia, worry at the slightest pretext. In fact, the brain gets used to such reactions and builds new neural connections to make it easier to worry and grieve. [1] And the more often and longer we experience and suffer, the easier it is given to us in the future.

“I've recently discovered that I'm used to reacting like this, throwing up my hands and worrying, to almost any situation. There was some trifle, and I immediately became discouraged. Although the situation itself is not worth a damn. Well, there, take a certificate to the pool. It is necessary to make a “flyura” and sign up with a therapist. All. And I'm like - oh, again I won't get into the pool, what the hell is this, everything is bad again. I sit and suffer. And then such evil took me. I got up, went and did everything. 1.5 hours spent in two visits. This tip has really blown my mind. I started to take care of myself and realized how quickly I give up, because I used to give up quickly. And I sit and worry that nothing works for me. Of course it doesn’t work, because I don’t even really try. ”

— Olga, 29 years old

2. Experiences can lead to physical illnesses

Prolonged stress — and our strong mental pain is stress — negatively affects the immune system, weakens it. [2] As a result, the body copes with diseases worse, susceptibility to infections increases, and the risk of cardiovascular diseases increases.

3. Experiences can lead to depression and similar illnesses

Prolonged mental pain in both girls and boys can lead to the development of depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder. [3] These diseases are already difficult to cope with on their own, and most often require psychological and medical support.

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Why does it hurt so much?

Ways to relieve pain largely depend on the cause. Therefore, first of all, you need to understand why it hurts in you? What or who causes you to hurt so much? Let's name some of the main reasons that lead to feelings and stress.

Causes of mental pain

All causes can be conditionally divided into 2 groups:

Group 1 - behavioral disorders and mental illness. These include fears, phobias, anxiety or depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depersonalization, panic attacks, and other illnesses. These problems may require behavioral therapy, medication support, and psychiatric counseling. Be attentive to yourself and do not miss a serious illness.

“I don't know why I didn't ask for help. I knew that something was wrong with me. Well, it can’t, a person shouldn’t feel bad for a whole year every day. But it always seemed to me that I was inventing what it seemed to me, because a person can’t feel bad all the time ... I was afraid that I would come, and they would say to me: “What have you come for? Go home, feigner, you have nothing.” And she was at home. I went when it became really bad, when I almost stopped sleeping. And, surprise, I'm not a faker. They gave me treatment. And it turned out that in life there are so many joyful and diverse emotions. And I just didn’t remember any of this…”0005

— Polina, 31 years old

Group 2 — psychological reasons, conflicts between the desired and reality, grief from loss. This can include separation and divorce, the death of loved ones, any problems in the family, difficulties with work and finances, low self-esteem and self-perception problems, heartache from betrayal, and much more. Conditions in this group can be managed without medication on your own or with the support of a psychologist.

In fact, there are no right and objectively weighty reasons for experiencing - any events or problems can lead to mental pain. And you shouldn't feel guilty about what you're going through or because your emotions are too strong for someone else's standards.

“It's very difficult for me now. In my case, heartache mixed with resentment. So also friends ... I’ll clarify - former friends - itched all the time. “Forget it, you’re worried about garbage, everything was immediately clear, it’s your own fault, you should have looked better.” And I looked. And there were no signs. And love did not blind my eyes. And on her forehead "I'm cheating on the current with the former" was not written. Not everything can be predicted, and straws cannot be spread everywhere. But it still hurts. I was betrayed twice - by an ex-girlfriend and ex-friends.

— Oleg, 25 years old

Signs of mental pain

Mental pain is often accompanied by mood changes:

  • sadness, melancholy;
  • agitation, anxiety;
  • apathy, depression;
  • feelings of loneliness;
  • absence of pleasant, "positive" emotions.

Also often mental pain gives very real physical sensations:

  • pressure or pain in the head or chest;
  • burning sensation in chest, throat;
  • feeling of a stone in the chest, heaviness on the shoulders, as if carrying a heavy load;
  • abdominal pain or discomfort;
  • nausea, dizziness, palpitations.

Mental pain or pain in the heart can be very severe and cause real suffering. Your feelings are not an illusion and not winding up. This is reality. But you can change this reality, you can help yourself and reduce the intensity of pain.

How to survive emotional pain?

Is there any way to soothe mental pain forever? Of course not. It is impossible to completely avoid pain. We will inevitably encounter situations that will cause us discomfort. We are living people and experience emotions that cannot be simply taken and turned off. Yes, this is not necessary. Emotions, including negative ones, help us adapt to difficult situations and accept the inevitable [4], and facing difficulties can help us become better and stronger.

“Very hot topic! Not so long ago, I had strong changes in my life, and I cried for a couple of days, and then it became so easy, as simple as it had never been. People try to feel sorry for me, they say: “Poor thing, how did you get rid of mental pain? Is it really hard for you?” “On the contrary, I feel strength and energy, gratitude for life.”

— Yana, 22 years old

How is this possible? Studies show that many people experience post-traumatic growth as a result of facing difficult situations — losses, military actions, injuries and illnesses, accidents or dangerous situations in which they accidentally survived [5]:

  • become stronger and more stable in a psychological sense;
  • increased self-confidence;
  • begin to appreciate what they have more;
  • their relations with relatives are improving;
  • they begin to see the prospects for their development.

There is only one "but" - this growth and development does not happen if we get stuck in negative emotions, if we think that we cannot cope with the situation. Experiences begin to accompany us constantly, absorb, occupy our whole life. Therefore, it is so important to be able to properly live the pain and not turn it into a habit.

When does mental pain become a habit?

How to understand that experiences get out of control and begin to turn into a habit? There are 5 signs that may alert you:

  1. It is difficult for you to get distracted, switch to something else.
  2. Your mental experiences last too long according to your own feelings.
  3. You experience almost no joy in life.
  4. You feel like this will never end.
  5. You feel like you can't deal with this pain on your own.

If you have 2 or more symptoms, please do not wait for the pain to go away on its own. Help her calm down.

How to cope with severe mental pain?

If you can change a situation that causes suffering, then this is where you should start. For example, if you have conflicts at work, plan a job change or try to get along with colleagues. If you are concerned about your self-esteem, pay attention to improving it. And so on. However, there are situations that we cannot change: divorce, loss of a loved one, betrayal. In this case, you should pay attention to your experiences. There are several ways to reduce their intensity and relieve pain.

1. You are much stronger than you think

The certainty that you must have a bad time and for a long time forms the habit of evaluating events negatively and prolongs the experience. In fact, the psyche is more like an elastic band than a fragile vase - it can bend, but then return to its previous level. Trust that you will get through this situation, even if it seems unrealistic right now.

2. Find positive things in what happened

An important condition for post-traumatic growth. [6] In any situation, you can see what makes you stronger or better. This does not mean that you should rejoice in your grief. What happened is painful. But this situation can help you understand yourself better. For example, miraculously avoiding death, you can learn to appreciate every day. Having parted with your loved one, direct your forces to your own development. Having avoided an attack, make sure of your own strength and stamina. And so on.

3. Be active, don't shut yourself up

There is no need to avoid socializing and lock yourself up at home. Heartache from love or loneliness is better relieved if you actively interact and communicate with other people. Any group physical activity [7], volunteering and helping other people will do.

4. Make Time for Action, Not Worry

Research shows that focusing on your experiences makes a person feel worse and robs them of their vitality. [8] In contrast, shifting the focus of attention to actions helps to relieve mental pain. You shouldn’t completely forget about your feelings, but it’s better to think not about what it’s all for you, but about what to do next and what to do.

“I had just that case when instead of “how strong and resilient I am, I am well done that I didn’t lose my head and coped, and only thanks to myself I escaped from the rapist” I slipped into “poor, unfortunate me, how this happened to me. ” Re-evaluation helped a lot to cope with the situation and move on without constant fear. ”

— Alena, 39

5. Take advantage of special assistance programs

Pay attention to programs that help you cope with loss and cope with mental pain. These could be help groups in your city or bereavement programs. The choice will depend on the cause of your experiences.

For example, if you are looking for how to deal with the pain of a breakup, then the 7Spsy course is for you, designed to help people who are going through a divorce or breakup. Also in the article at the link there are several more ways that will help you survive separation and reduce mental pain.

If you are experiencing the death of a loved one, then the 7Spsy course will suit you, which will gently help you survive this loss and learn how to live again.

Let's solve the problems of apathy and stress


Both programs are designed to help you cope with loss, reduce heartache, and avoid becoming a habit. And most importantly, you will be able to find the strength in yourself for post-traumatic growth and continue to live a full life.

Remember, not always a person can cope with mental pain. Emotions can prevail over the mind, plunging into suffering. Therefore, if you feel that you cannot cope on your own or do not know how to remove mental pain, take care of yourself and seek help.


  1. Suffering is a habit (Yu. I. Alexandrov, “Fundamentals of Psychophysiology”).
  2. Stress weakens the immune system (
  3. Stress can lead to depression, anxiety and other disorders (
  4. Sadness helps you come to terms with loss and reduces burnout (
  5. Post Traumatic Growth (
  6. Conditions for the formation of post-traumatic growth (https://www.
    Learn more