Is it possible to die of sadness? How to prevent burnout
Throughout the history of literature and poetry, hundreds of dramatic stories have been narrated in which one of the characters suffered such an affliction after the loss of his loved one that he came to die of sadness . However, what happens in real life?
Grief and sadness do not tend to be clinically valid causes of death, but numerous studies point to the possibility that a healthy person may end up suffering serious heart problems and even death due to great psychological suffering .
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Relationship between emotional health and heart diseases
The studies that try to look for different correlations between emotional health and physical illnesses, concretely cardiac have increased in the last years. Some of these investigations suggest that in people suffering from moderate or severe depression , this works as a risk factor when suffering from heart failure.
These studies conclude that as depressive symptoms become more severe, the risk of a heart condition increases. Thus, it is possible to die of sadness if the person does not watch their symptoms nor comes for help.
Such is the level of connection that exists between depression and heart problems that the American Heart Association raised the possibility of including depression within the list of risk factors at the time of suffering a heart attack .
- Related article: "Major depression: symptoms, causes and treatment"
Dying because of sadness?
One of these studies conducted by a group of Norwegian researchers establishes a direct connection between the hormonal imbalance , generated by depression, and the different effects that this causes on the heart. According to this work, depression can promote the release of hormones associated with stress, which cause the appearance of inflammatory phenomena or atherosclerosis.
At the same time, other investigations relate the experience of a recent duel with the death of the person who experiences it. According to these studies after the death of the couple the person is very much more likely to have a heart condition or stroke , even going so far as to specify that this risk is much greater between 14 and 18 days after the death of the loved one.
This same study warns of the gloomy perspective after the death of the life partner. Since, despite the fact that the person is healthy, during the grieving process the risk of death from a heart condition increases by 57 percent.
The physical symptoms associated with this grieving process include from irregular heartbeat or accelerated pulse to atrial fibrillation . These symptoms favor the appearance of diseases or cardiac accidents, being the most common causes of these deaths "by grief" the following cerebrovascular attacks and dementia.
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Broken heart syndrome
Broken heart syndrome also referred to as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy or stress-induced cardiomyopathy, in a heart muscle condition susceptible to appear after a very intense emotional stress experience.
This broken heart syndrome can appear in healthy people who did not suffer from any type of previous cardiac alteration. Despite being a poor passenger of the musculature of the heart, it can become important enough to cause death.
This phenomenon is located within the classification of myopathies, since the weakening of the muscles of the heart causes difficulties when pumping the blood, leading the person to suffer heart failure.
In the broken heart syndrome this weakening occurs after the experience of an emotionally charged experience, such as the death of a loved one.
Approximately 90% of people affected by this disease are elderly women , specifically women from 66 years of age. But it can also occur in men or in younger people who have predisposing factors to it.
- Related article: "Broken heart syndrome: causes, symptoms and treatment"
The list of symptoms associated with broken heart syndrome is very similar to that of myocardial infarction. Among which are included:
- Pain in the chest area.
- Difficulty breathing .
- Arrhythmia .
- Failures or collapses.
However, these symptoms rarely end with the patient's life. Only in 10% of cases do patients they have a real risk of dying , and are those that present symptoms of severe hypotension, decreased consciousness and pulmonary edema.
At the moment, the medical and scientific community has not been able to understand the exact cause of this syndrome. Likewise, he has not been able to find out why it affects mostly women.
The main theory states that an avalanche of stress-related hormones released into the bloodstream In certain moments that carry a great emotional load it can be the cause of this type of myopathy.
This theory details that the abundance of these stress hormones can trigger a contraction of the arteries of the heart; producing an ischemia of the cardiac muscle and causing the symptoms of cardiomyopathy.
The main difference between this syndrome and the rest of myopathies is that, in the broken heart syndrome, the arteries are not obstructed by plaques of atherosclerosis, the person being healthy in all physical aspects.
Also, as commented on several occasions throughout the article, the broken heart syndrome usually occurs after the person experiences a strongly emotional event .
There is no established treatment for broken heart syndrome. Usually, the intervention focuses on support aimed at both psychological symptoms arising after a stressful incident; as to physical symptoms, through the administration of diuretics and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors recommended for the control of heart failure.
If treated in time, the mortality rate of this type of cardiomyopathy is less than 5%, with the person fully recovered in about two weeks.
Tips to avoid getting to this point
The most important point to take into account to avoid reaching the point of almost dying, or dying, of grief is to take care of our own mental and emotional health.
Experiencing a duel is a strengthening experience if done in the right way and without trying to repress it. In the case of feeling lost or disoriented, it is necessary to request the help of a psychologist to guide the person through the different stages of this process.
Likewise, if the person perceives any of the symptoms described above, it is vital that they go to a primary care center to rule out the possibility that the symptoms develop.