The renowned American writer, John Gregory Dunne died in 2003 of a sudden heart attack minutes after he and his wife, Joan Didion visited their dying daughter in the ICU.
In her best-selling memoir following his death, The Year of Magical Thinking, Didion says, “research to date has shown that, like many other stressors, grief frequently leads to changes in the endocrine, immune, autonomic nervous, and cardiovascular systems.”
When someone feels intense emotions, the body’s stress response kicks in. “Broken-heart syndrome” is a cardiac disorder with psychogenic dimensions that mimics a heart attack. But in this condition, unlike the typical heart attack, the coronary arteries are open.
The skin is the largest organ – about 20 feet long if laid flat – and a very public venue where you willingly and unwillingly express emotions.
Psychological stress can exacerbate skin disorders, including hives, eczema, psoriasis, urticaria (itching), acne and rosacea. Tens of millions of Americans suffer from chronic skin ailments, and one of the most serious is cancer.