If you have suffered a loss recently or know someone who has, you may have noticed some emotions and other symptoms coming up. In the midst of your grieving process, there may be some surprising things you are noticing.
Some of those surprising things you may be noticing include the ways that grief can affect your physical health. You may associate grief with more emotional reactions like crying, but there are many other physical symptoms of grief that can affect your health. Following are some of ways grief can affect your health:
One of the many ways that grief can affect you physically is by causing sleep disruption. Since your body and brain use sleep time to rest and repair, disrupted sleep during a period of grief can compound the physical effects of sleep loss. On top of the already tumultuous time your mind and body are going through due to grief, losing sleep can also keep the body and brain from fully resting and making any needed repairs.
Grief can also lead to insomnia, which can make fatigue and exhaustion worse. While fatigue, sleep disruption, and even insomnia can be normal during a time of grief, these physical symptoms should only be temporary. If these symptoms continue, you should consult your doctor.
Grief can cause people to feel enormous stress, and during times of stress eating habits may change, which can lead to digestive issues. You may find yourself or a loved one eating too much or too little during times of stress and grief, which can cause digestive issues.
Other digestive issues that are common during periods of grief are upset stomach, loss of appetite, nausea, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Similar to digestive issues, stress can also cause cardiovascular problems. People who have lost loved ones are particularly at increased risk for heart attacks. With that in mind, you should be aware of any chest pain or shortness of breath during times of grief and loss.
Again, since times of grief are also full of stress, the stress hormones released during these times can cause a variety of physical symptoms, another of which is decreased immunity. If stress during a time of grief has caused your immune system to lower, you may find yourself more susceptible to colds, the flu, and other infections.
Another set of symptoms related to the stress hormones released during times of grief are body aches and pains. When high levels of these hormones are released during periods of grief, it affects the muscles, which could lead to joint pain, back pain, stiffness, and more. Like many of the other symptoms, body aches and pain should be temporary.
The symptoms associated with grief should be temporary. However, if they persist, you should consult your doctor. In the short term, if you are having a difficult time coping with your grief you can seek out grief support, which can help you on your path to physical and mental healing.