The Role & Impact of Emotions on Public Health & Chronic Diseases such as Diabetes

Antoine Saad, MD
Psychiatry & Neuropsychology
Mind Body Medicine Researcher

Researchers ask various questions when it comes to public health trying to understand the relationship between emotions and health. Much scientific research has addressed the various damages that affect physical health because of negative emotions, such as chronic stress, fear... in addition to their impact on organic and functional heart, strokes, diabetes and general inflammation. One of the studies conducted at Harvard Medical School, Department of Pediatrics, has shown that early life experiences in childhood, such as exposure to violence and education by people with mental suffering, have direct negative impact on other organic systems.

The gray area between negative emotions and their relation to chronic diseases such as diabetes

Depression and diabetes never coexist. Depression develops in a progressive, hidden and convincing manner, so it generates anger, repression and frustration concurrently with indifference and recklessness, and even surrender in relation to health, relationships and life. In addition to diabetes, all this leads to the so-called “killer combination”: both of them lead to death. They often appear together, which explains the difficulty in obtaining appropriate assistance. Hence, the patient fails, in many cases, to recognize the disorder, to know its nature and the kind of assistance it needs. Therefore, the need for media awareness campaigns about the relationship between these two poles arises. Actually, diabetes doubles the risk of depression disease. 30% of people with diabetes suffer from depression, knowing that prevention campaigns primarily focus on heart disease, vision loss and nervous system disorders.

Depression is not just due to external conditions of life, which ends with the demise of these conditions. Actually, it is more a chronic condition than just a chemical disorder in the brain neurotransmitters level. It may be caused by organic diseases, genetic susceptibility... there is no single reason that leads to depression.

Feelings Equation

The researcher “Bzinski” says the concept of health goes beyond negative emotions’ effects to reach positive emotions’ benefits. In a study she conducted in 2007, she showed that positive emotional balance contributes to the attenuation of risk in coronary heart disease, more than quitting smoking and working out regularly. She also says that optimism at an early age contributes to maintaining public health and avoiding diseases during the next thirty years. This fact highlights the urgent need for joint programs between experimental psychology and public health. In 1979, “Lisa Berkman” conducted a study on 7 thousand people for a period of 9 years. This study showed that participants that were socially isolated at the outset have been subjected to death by doubling rate compared to the others.

Is there any happiness policy?

The time has come to develop a practical plan that can be translated behaviorally by everyone in the community, in order to improve public health and reduce the disease cost, rather than announcing campaigns specific to certain diseases (breast cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, smoking, drugs...), which may affect the society as a whole.

“Eric Rim” says in the research program on the prevalence of cardiovascular disease that it is not hereditary, but largely due to the per- son’s choice for a certain quality of life such as food, smoking and sports. So what is the role of feelings and emotions in these behavioral choices? Can you imagine the benefit of a suitable health policy based on positive emotions culture? In fact, if it reduced only 1% of acute and chronic heart disease, it can save many lives and reduce prohibitive health costs for the treatment of chronic diseases spreading very quickly such as diabetes, stroke and others. Hence, the role of preventive programs is essential and a policy priority targeting the young and older public alike, which must be considered sooner than later.

It has become known that various psychological conditions and feelings, whether positive or negative, vary genetically and acquisitively. The proportion of genetic susceptibility ranges between 40-50%, which means that the largest proportion (50-60%) is for the acquisition, which confirms the possibility of achieving better public health by applying the “Preventive dream” program. This can be done by stimulating the emotional and social skills, especially of the young category. This step helps maintaining mental and physical health, and thus extending human life while maintaining a good quality of life, on condition that policy makers implement an appropriate national plan, knowing that all therapeutic approaches work individually and not collectively, and their effectiveness vary between one person and another.

Happiness Map

We can limit it to the following elements:

  • Meaning and purpose of existence
  • Life satisfaction
  • Positive mood

Live the Moment

By enjoying my daily life, I get rid of heavy loads, therefore they fade away and the equation changes from “do not worry be happy” to “be happy and make your destiny yourself”.

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