What Are the Physical Effects of Grief?

by Jun 19, 20233,063 comments

Grief is complicated. It can make you feel like you’re on a roller coaster experiencing different emotions, twists, and turns.

At first, you feel down. When you think of positive memories, you may feel like you’re climbing upward again. But before you know it, you’re spiraling down and experiencing a mixture of different feelings.

Grief has an overwhelming amount of signs and symptoms. You may be aware of some of the emotional symptoms like sadness, anger, bitterness, guilt, anxiety, and loneliness.

You may even be aware of some of the behavioral symptoms like withdrawal, isolation, and memory loss.

The physical symptoms are a little less known. Let’s learn more about the physical effects of grief.

Heart Problems

When it comes to grief, you may feel like you have a broken heart. While a broken heart may not be entirely accurate, grief can cause heart problems. Extreme stress can actually alter someone’s blood pressure, pulse, and the thickness of their blood.

These changes can set someone up for a heart attack or stroke. Someone experiencing this type of heart problem may experience chest main and shortness of breath.

Digestive Issues

Digestive issues are an extremely common symptom associated with grief. Anxiety along with grief can cause nausea, stomach pain, constipation, and diarrhea. Hormones are released when stress is present that can irritate the stomach causing a lack of appetite.

Some individuals may respond to grief by losing their appetite. They may forget to eat or not have the energy to grocery shop, cook, or eat. Others may try to use food as a coping mechanism or as a way to fill the hole or void they may be feeling.

Changes in Weight

Due to the change in appetite and eating habits, it can be common for someone experiencing grief to also deal with a change in their weight. Those who lose their appetite with grief can experience weight loss. Individuals who use food as a coping mechanism are more likely to gain weight during the grieving process.

They may turn to less nutritious food or resort to binging. They may also choose to put their needs or normal routines aside. Instead staying active and eating nutritious meals, they may choose sit at home and eat what’s easy or comforting.

Sleeping Problems

Grief can make it harder for someone to fall asleep at night as well as stay asleep during the night. Sleep is a basic human need that is essential for rest and recovery. If you’re not getting the necessary amount of sleep at night that you need, you may be more likely to take naps during your day or spend more time during the day in bed.

If you’re sleep deprived, the signs and symptoms you’re already experiencing from grief can worsen over time, especially if left untreated. Sleeping problems can lead to other signs and symptoms like extreme fatigue, mental exhaustion, and emotional exhaustion.

Aches and Pains

When someone is grieving, cortisol, a stress hormone, is released into the body. This hormone can lead to aches and pains in the body from muscles tensing during times of stress. Some of the most common aches and pains in the body include the neck, back, joints, shoulders, head, and stomach.

Due to other changes in the body, the immune system is more at risk and more susceptible to illness.

Next Steps

There isn’t a rule book to follow when it comes to grief. It’s a complicated and raw emotion. It’s okay to ask for help. If you’re struggling with going through the grieving process on your own, we’re here to help. Reach out to us today to learn more about therapy options for grief.