Reevaluating the Intersection of Emotions and Medical Conditions

We see many common medical conditions whose underlying cause we don't fully understand. While medicine can ease symptoms, it's time we start looking at the root cause.

September 12, 2023

Today, so many people suffer from common health problems that the medical community doesn't fully understand. We often prescribe treatments or medicines to deal with symptoms or swelling but these can lead to unwanted (and unnecessary) side effects. Unfortunately these patients are often stuck taking these medications for years, and in many cases, the rest of their lives.

For many years, scientists have been studying how our minds and bodies are connected. They've tried to prove that our emotional distress might be causing some of these medical problems, but have come up short in linking the two together.

As a doctor specializing in hypertension, I've been fascinated with the concept of the mind-body connection and knew that there had to be a relationship between the two that could help alleviate and even cure not just hypertension, but other chronic illnesses that plague so many Americans and people around the world.

Medical Illness and the Mind-Body Link

I first started fully understanding this relationship when I went beyond the typical (traditional) health questions and started digging deeper into my patient's pasts. After decades of intimate conversations with my patients and taking a more "out-of-the-box" approach to healing their ailments, I was convinced that the mind-body connection was relevant to a large percentage of my patients with a long list of chronic conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune diseases, migraine, asthma, fibromyalgia, and many others.

At first I wasn’t looking for a connection between repressed emotions and chronic illness, but again and again, learning more about my patients led me to find that the mind-body connection is often relevant in 50% or more patients I see.

See, we as medical professionals know a considerable amount about the pathophysiology of these chronic and often unexplainable conditions, but we still don’t know what triggers the pathophysiologic process.

In my research with patients, I really started to uncover the "why" and get to the root cause of the problem. This led me to be able to treat patients more effectively by understanding what was really causing the condition instead of prescribing medications to deal with the effects of the condition.

Patient Case Studies

Chronic fatigue syndrome: A 22-year-old had been dealing with chronic fatigue for four years. Even though he grew up in a very stressful home, he didn't think it affected him emotionally. Surprisingly, when he started taking an antidepressant, he got better quickly.

Hypertension: There was a patient with high blood pressure who hadn't experienced recent stress. Her history revealed that she went through very tough years after a divorce, raising two kids, working two jobs, and getting a college degree. Even though she didn't feel anxious or depressed during that time, her high blood pressure improved when she realized the emotional burden she carried from those years.

Migraine headaches: This patient had suffered from migraines for 30 years. Her headaches stopped when she became aware of emotions connected to her parents' problems and emotional abuse during her childhood.

Unexplained anxiety: A 38-year-old immigrant had been to five cardiologists and was taking five blood pressure medications. He had hypertension, anxiety, and a racing heart for years. I suspected that these issues were linked to anxiety he had buried from his tough early years. I prescribed a medication to lower his blood pressure, heart rate, and reduce his anxiety, and it worked.

Understanding and acknowledging hidden emotions from our past can be a path to healing. We can often handle these emotions better than we think.

Physician. Professor. Researcher. Author. Speaker.

Hypertension specialist, New York Presbyterian Hospital - Weill Cornell Medical Center



Hidden Within Us: A Radical New Understanding of the Mind-Body Connection

This award-winning book by Dr. Mann dives deep into the relationship between repressed emotion and illness. Our ability to repress emotions is a vital gift of evolution, but, silently, the emotions we've repressed do persist and can affect our health years later. This recognition can lead to new pathways to understanding, treatment, and healing.