A daily diary study on stressors, hurt feelings, aggression, and somatic symptoms

“A total of 248 college students participated in the daily diary study. Daily stressors, daily hurt feelings, and rejection sensitivity predicted somatic symptoms. Rejection sensitivity also moderated the association of stressors to somatic symptoms such that more stressors and high rejection sensitivity predicted more somatic symptoms. The findings collectively highlight the importance of supporting individuals with high rejection sensitivity to encode social cues in a healthy way. It is imperative to provide emotion regulation skills to cope with negative emotions derived from social interactions.”

This study highlights two things I see in many of the patients I work with. One is that stress and hurt feelings have the capacity to cause physical somatic symptoms in the body. The second thing is sensitivity. People who are more sensitive to rejection and are more easily triggered by rejection are more likely to have somatic symptoms. These symptoms many times can be confused with physical structural symptoms.

As the research paper states, we need to focus on building emotion regulation skills and learning how to better handle strong emotions that may be generated from feeling rejected or feeling hurt. And make the recognition that these emotions may be linked to our symptoms. Learning to work with emotions, handling stress, and recognizing our patterns and why we have them can go a long way to reducing the production of physical symptoms in the body.