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Feeling sick is an emotion meant to help you get better faster

http://theconversation.com/feeling-sick-is-an-emotion-meant-to-help-you-get-better-faster-126915

theconversation.com

Feeling sick is an emotion meant to help you get better faster
You know what it's like to be sick. You feel fatigued, maybe a little depressed, less hungry than usual, more easily nauseated and perhaps more sensitive to pain and cold. The fact that illness comes with a distinct set of psychological and behavioral features is not a new discovery.

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Lassitude

Illness comes with a distinct set of psychological and behavioral features. You feel fatigued, maybe a little depressed, less hungry than usual, more easily nauseated and perhaps more sensitive to pain and cold.

All these aspects of being sick are features of emotion that are an important part of how human beings work to recover from illness.

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Why you feel fatigued

Activating the immune system to fight germs costs your body a lot of energy.

Fatigue reduces your level of physical activity, leaving more energy available for the immune system.

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Changes during illness

  • In order to avoid additional infections or injuries that would increase the immune system's energy requirements, your body increases sensitivity to nausea and pain.
  • Sensitivity to cold motivates you to find warm clothing and heat sources that reduce the costs of keeping your body temperature up.
  • Changes in your appetite and food preferences push you to eat in a way that supports your body.
  • Feeling miserable provides a signal to your family that you need help.

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The underlying emotion program

People possess a regulatory program that lies in wait, scanning for indicators that infectious disease is present. If it detects signs of infection: 

  • The program sends a signal to various functional mechanisms in the brain and body.
  • In turn, they change their patterns of operation in ways that are useful for fighting infection.
  • These changes together produce the experience of being sick.

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