Running head: The Psychology of Emotional Health 2
The Psychology of Emotional Health
The Psychology of Emotional Health
Millions of people think to themselves everyday how they feel and how that affects everyone around them. Everyone on earth is trying to reach the goal of success and happiness in their lives. One of the main concepts to reaching this goal is emotional health. It is usually closely associated with the concept of wellbeing. It also refers to the way people view life and live life every day. With this in mind, the question that arises is what defines emotional health?
Emotional health is the wellbeing of a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. But what makes us feel these things in the first place? From the most fundamental perspective, “Behavioral neuroscience is the subfield of psychology that focuses on how the brain and nervous system, as well as other biological aspects of the body, determine behavior.” (Feldman, 2017, p.5) Because of behavioral neuroscience, scientists can study the link between all the areas of the brain, the nervous system, and how they correlate with the emotions related to physical sensations. Emotions allow us to have reactions to all situations. When we get the sense of happiness or sadness, fear or anger, our body has many reactions, not only physically but mentally. The main area of the brain that handles recognizing and controlling these reactions of the body is known as the limbic system. There is also a small organ within our brain’s medial temporal lobe that forms an essential part of the limbic system. This organ is called the hippocampus. This organ and the limbic system play a major role in memory. With these two complex systems working together in harmony, the brain is able to create memories of the past that were both traumatic and pleasant, help identify threats in our surroundings, judge them accordingly, and make the correct decisions or reactions.
Taking these facts into account, psychologists begin to wonder how psychological disorders affect emotional health. “Health psychology explores the relationship between psychological factors and physical ailments or disease.” (Feldman, 2017, p.5) In this branch of psychology, psychologists can treat disorders such as anxiety and depression. These disorders can arise in some people from emotional irritations on a daily basis. For instance, when you are stuck in traffic and you are feeling anxious or angry knowing that you might not be on time to your destination, your blood pressure will rise, your muscles begin to tense, and your cholesterol levels rise which lowers the defenses of your immune system. (2018, May 31). Retrieved from https://healthpsychology.org/the-biology-of-emotions/ Your emotional health should never be in a negative state of being. The emotions that arise from these physical reactions are also negative to your mental and emotional health.
Even though physical and mental reactions are a main influence on our emotional health, psychologists present to us the fact that evolution plays a role on our emotions as well. “Evolutionary psychology considers how behavior is influenced by our genetic inheritance from our ancestors.” (Feldman, 2017, p.6) The idea that physical traits such as hair color and race are not the only traits to be determined by genetics is not a new idea. When talking about evolution, one cannot ignore the theory of survival of the fittest. Emotional behavior such as jealousy or shyness presented through social interactions stem at least partially from the genetic inheritance of our families in ways still not understood fully by humans. Suggesting this creates the opinion that these emotions create feelings of wanting to be more successful and help increase our survival rate.
In conclusion, the biology of human emotion is a complex topic that will continue to be studied. While emotional disorders can result in suffering for many people, there will always be a positive outlook on such feelings that are advantageous for adaptive purposes. The intellectual and physical factors that effect emotional health were reviewed here with detailed facts and reasoning. The research presented through this work of writing brings to light an educated reasoning of what biological aspects influence emotional health and how.
Feldman, R. S. (2017). Essentials of understanding psychology (12th ed., Introduction to psychology). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
MacDonald, C. A. (n.d.). The Biology of Emotions. Retrieved May 31, 2018, from https://healthpsychology.org/the-biology-of-emotions/