What are the Physical Effects of Sadness on the Body?

September 23, 2016
There are serious physical effects of sadness and depression on your body, such as loss of appetite and your perception of temperature.

Has there ever been a time when you’ve felt listless and sad? Have you ever felt the pain of being rejected? Is it something that you suffer from when love goes sour?  What is certain is that life’s challenges can alter the levels of stress in your brain, and this can lead to suffering from various disorders due to the physical effects of sadness.

Today, we want to explain what the physical effects of sadness are.

The Physical Effects Effect of Sadness

When you feel down, the circuits in your brain for physical and emotional pain overlap.

physical effects of sadness

This doesn’t just happen in the areas of your brain that are related to the purely physical component of pain, but also in areas related to your somatic perception.

Why does this happen?

This triggers a negative impact on your body, especially on your immune system, which can potentially increase your risk of disease, particularly inflammatory disease.

It affects your perception of temperature

Another one of the physical effects of sadness is that it can increase your sensitivity to cold, even while people around you feel warm.

In several studies, when a sense of rejection or isolation was invoked, participants estimated the temperature of the room to be lower and choose to eat and drink warm products.

This relationship goes beyond the simple feeling. Your body temperature is actually lowered while you’re experiencing sadness.

It affects your appetite

physical effects of sadness

Sadness can also affect your appetite, increasing your risk of weight gain and affecting your blood pressure. The direct result is the appearance of high blood pressure and cardiac problems in the long term.

In addition, it decreases your ability to detect sweet flavors. This is because the number of receptors for sweetness on your tongue is reduced.

For this reason, it’s not uncommon for food to have no taste while you’re going through a time of sadness.

It increases stress

Sadness also affects the hormone known as cortisol. This is important for controlling blood sugar and blood pressure levels, as well as the quality of your sleep.

All of this means that sadness is a harmful state for your psychological health. It has been linked to:

  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Liver disease

Depression, in turn, can even influence the onset of cancer. Actually, both stress and depression can bring on diseases.

When you’re extremely sad or stressed, you’ll notice how nothing seems to function properly. Your defenses are down and your risk of falling ill increases considerably.

What’s the solution?

It isn’t stress that’s causing problems with your immune system, but rather the perception that you can’t do anything to stop it.


5 Signs of Depression

Your brain needs more energy

It might seem unusual to think that your brain is more active when you’re sad. However, this happens because your brain is working much harder during times of sadness: more than 70 different regions are activated.

How is this possible?

It’s easy to understand. When you’re sad, your brain is more active remembering, thinking, suffering, and looking for reasons, solutions, and alternatives. That’s why there are people who, when faced with these situations, just sleep.

Even then the hippocampus, the front of the brain, and the temporal lobes are active. Remember that your brain uses 20% of all your energy, but during sad times it’s working much harder.

This causes an elevated need for glucose to feed your brain. In turn it makes you crave sweets even more.

The physical effects of sadness and other disorders

When you’re sad, your serotonin decreases and that can affect you in the medium and long term. It can even cause:

  • Depression
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Violent outbreaks

This neurotransmitter is associated with personal motivation. That’s why you have to be strong and face the moments of introspection in order to find the resources to keep moving forward.

It’s very likely that during this time you’ll visit your doctor because you don’t feel well. However, medical test results will show you that your health is perfect.

And it’s true: you’re fine physically, but emotionally are suffering from the physical effects of sadness and will need time to process and heal.

You need to cry

physical effects of sadness


The Importance of Crying Right Away

Believe it or not, crying can make you feel better. When you feel sad, your brain builds up too much stress and anxiety, and you need to release that somehow.

Crying is the perfect way to relax and free yourself from everything you feel. After doing so, you’ll begin to secrete endorphins that will make you feel more relaxed.

That’s why it’s important that when you feel the desire to cry, don’t resist. Let it out and it will help you feel better.

Some people choose other activities that also generate endorphins, such as sex or exercise. These two options also work and they’re not bad for you.

However, it’s always necessary to cry from time to time.

The physical effects of sadness on your health can be extremely negative. You may not always feel good, but you can find alternatives to ease the tension and overcome the physical effects of sadness.

  • Yang L, Zhao Y, Wang Y, et al. The Effects of Psychological Stress on Depression. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2015;13(4):494–504. doi:10.2174/1570159X1304150831150507
  • Yaribeygi H, Panahi Y, Sahraei H, Johnston TP, Sahebkar A. The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI J. 2017;16:1057–1072. Published 2017 Jul 21. doi:10.17179/excli2017-480
  • Lokko HN, Stern TA. Sadness: diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2014;16(6):10.4088/PCC.14f01709. Published 2014 Nov 20. doi:10.4088/PCC.14f01709