Physical Reactions

Grief and loss affect more than just a person’s emotions and state of mind. They can affect the body. Grieving is hard work and takes a huge toll on our bodies. When we are responding to a loss, the part of our brain where responses are integrated increases the production of CRH, a hormone that produces anxiety-like symptoms. Emergency-mobilizing chemicals are released. As our stress increases, the chemical levels increase; and our central nervous system becomes highly stimulated. Our breathing may become defective. Biological rhythms of sleeping and eating are disturbed. Our digestion, metabolism, circulation and respiration change. Our ability to concentrate and pay attention decreases.

Physical reactions to grief can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Inability to sleep
  • Pain
  • Stomach pain
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Chest pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Backache
  • Panic attack
  • Anxiety

Many of these warning signs, however, also may point to a serious medical condition that must be addressed. If these symptoms are severe, it is important to seek medical assessment from a healthcare provider.



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