Body processes

Emotions – Function, Task & Diseases


Emotions are one of the most important driving forces in humans. Rather than logical thinking , emotions such as hate, contempt, anger, envy, but also pity, joy, exuberance and empathy cause us to react directly or indirectly and thus define our social behavior and our social coexistence to a considerable extent. In many cases, we experience certain impulses through the emergence of emotions, which influence our actions, change our cognitive perceptions and even affect our state of health – in a positive as well as in a negative sense.

What are emotions?

An emotion defines an inner sensation, which can be unpleasant or pleasant in nature for the feeler. This can be triggered by a conscious or unconscious experience of a perception.

This form of mental excitement can express itself in emotions such as fear , sadness , grief or joy , confidence and love , and thereby produce a wide variety of effects: An emotion sets in motion a complex structure of different physiological reactions, which consist of both internal and external reactions can. An emotion can have visible physical effects that are directly recognizable on the human body. For example, states of excitement such as fear or love can result in an increase in blood pressure , an increase in pulse rate and body sweatinginfluence. In addition, an emotion stimulates cognitive processes such as memory or the interpretation of a situation.

The combination of a sensation and a cognition then leads the feeling person to specific reactive behaviors, which can be reflected in externally visible movements such as laughing , crying or screaming .

Function & task

Emotions are important for humans in many respects: They not only influence our cognitive perceptions, but also help in making decisions and are therefore the decisive trigger for our actions and social behavior. A distinction can be made between action-guiding and informative emotions. Informative emotions inform the feeler about changes in his environment and therefore help him to weigh the chances, the potential as well as the risks of a planned event. The feeling person can therefore already have an overview of the possible consequences of his decision in advance and act accordingly.Action-guiding information, on the other hand, usually conveys an impulse that leads to an immediate reaction to an event or a circumstance.

An emotion such as fear, which arises in the context of a threat, can cause the feeler to flee. The emotion gives him the decisive impetus to protect himself. Disgust that arises , for example when looking at an inedible object, can trigger the impulse to spit it out or throw it away and thus has a preventive character.

Emotions can thus protect people from serious actions and also guide them in their behavior towards others. For example, an emotion like pity can trigger an empathetic response towards a fellow citizen, while contempt or even hatred tends to produce the opposite.

Diseases & Ailments

Modern medicine has already proven in multiple studies that emotions can influence the human state of health to a large extent. Positive feelings usually have a benign influence on our body – they make it more resilient and support healing processes. Negative emotions, on the other hand, which the person concerned finds unpleasant, can promote the onset of illnesses or even be the causal factor for an illness.The body’s own immune system is mainly affected by the effects of negative feelings such as fear, grief or anger – infectious diseases of all kinds are usually the result.

This circumstance is due to the close connection between the nervous , hormone and immune systems. The control center for our nervous system is the brain . Emotions such as sadness, despair, love and joy are produced here; Millions of ion channels forward the various messenger substances . Therefore, a large part of the hormones are released in the brain – strongly dependent on the emotions that arise here.

The emotional structure produced in the nervous and endocrine systems now has an effect on the immune system. Here, white blood cells , antibodies and T – lymphocytes devote themselves to the daily task of protecting the human body from all kinds of pathogenic invaders and pests such as viruses , bacteria and cancer cells . If negative and depressing emotions now predominate in the hormone and nervous system, the immune system also adjusts its production accordingly – the T-lymphocyte level in the blood is lowered, the activity of the antibodies runs on the back burner.

This explains why widowed or depressed people suffer more frequently from infectious diseases than others. However, students or professionals who are under great pressure to perform or who are about to take an exam are particularly often affected. The fear of failure usually not only leads to restless sleep , but also attacks the immune system – those affected often complain of infections such as herpes or colds .

A similar effect can be seen in groups of people who are in an emotional state of emergency and feel extremely helpless or emotionally overwhelmed. In many cases, these are people who, for example, care for a sick family member over a longer period of time or accompany a loved one on their last journey. In these people, poorer immune values ​​and an associated increased tendency to infectious diseases can usually be determined. The same applies to people who suffer from other mental stress such as money worries or who are in a state of grief or grief.

Patients who have been diagnosed with depression often suffer from a disturbed regulation of the stress hormone cortisol – this circumstance inhibits the immune cells and is therefore often the cause of diseases that indicate a defective functioning of the immune system.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.