Which is worse, physical pain or emotional pain?

  • Thank you for the A2A.

    For me, emotional pain is much worse than physical pain because it takes a greater toll on a person overall and they have little to no control over it.

    Emotional pain is stressful and very draining. Your heart feels broken and heavy, you have no motivation, and you don’t smile much, if at all. You don’t laugh or enjoy anything.

    It can also cause people to be angry and depressed. Being in emotional pain also causes low self-esteem, and a person going through emotional pain might tend to bottle up emotions that can sometimes overflow into constant tears/crying (the bottled up emotions eventually get released, but not always right away).

    When a person is feeling better, painful memories can come back at any point … which can trigger emotional pain, and can affect you all over again.

    With physical pain the memories can be brought back, but you don’t feel that physical pain anymore. (Someone can remember breaking their arm, but the pain doesn’t’ come back when you remember it).

    Emotional pain can be relived over and over again, unlike physical pain. Sometimes you don’t know why you are having emotional pain, but with physical pain you can see something wrong and know what the pain is about.

    Emotional pain can damage long-term mental health also, and can be felt more deeply; it can stay sometimes with you for a long time, whereas something like a broken leg will heal in a few months.

    One thing that gets me is that with emotional pain, people can’t “see” it; it is invisible. Physical pain can be seen and people go to them right away to help.

    I read an article somewhere years ago about (paraphrased) how people react to others’ situations so differently (physical illness vs mental illness). The people with cancer (this was the example in the article) always had people bringing meals over, helping out in every way they could, etc.

    But there were also people who had mental illness (schizophrenia was the example) … who everyone also knew about also … but those same people didn’t do one thing to help out the family with the person who had schizophrenia. It would have been helpful though, because of the emotional pain the person has (or their family), the energy it takes out of people, etc. Some help and encouragement along the way would have been really nice and supportive (end of article).

    This article really resonated with me … after reading it, I asked my mother if anyone had helped her out with anything (specifically from her church family, which she was and is still heavily active in) in the beginning when all of the mental illness stuff started … she said no, not one thing … no cards, dinners, nothing. She had no support from anyone. (and I am relating this to her more than me because I was living with her and she was dealing with me on a day to day basis, when I had no idea what was going on).

    Then I asked her about people she’s known who have/had cancer (in the same church family), and if people helped them out with different things and she said yes, that they were helped out a lot … dinners, cards, offers to drive them places. My mother would have really appreciated some help. But people couldn’t see it (the mental illness) so it was as if it didn’t exist. And I just said “it sucks it’s like that.” And she nodded her head ‘yes.’

    Emotional pain can be felt everywhere … it can cause headaches, backaches, digestive problems, sleep problems etc; emotional pain is basically everywhere, all the time, until it resolves (could be a day, could be a year, you never know).

    Personally, I can handle physical pain I can handle. Even with chronic pain, it isn’t a big deal for me. It hurts, but I am aware of it and can more or less control it. I can’t control emotional pain. It just doesn’t work that way.

    But they are both pain, just 2 different types of it. And no matter what, it all hurts and is painful to feel … just in a different way.

    Like I was saying though, to me emotional pain is a lot worse than physical pain.

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