Are You Experiencing Emotional Pain? How To Grow From Heartache

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated October 24, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Emotional pain can be challenging to cope with. If you're experiencing pain in your heart, unrelated to a heart attack or other health concerns, or difficult emotions, you might not be sure how to proceed. Knowing that emotional pain can lead to both physical and mental health symptoms can be one place to start. If you are thinking, “my heart hurts emotionally”, you're not alone in the pain you're feeling. 

Certain physical illnesses or circumstances, such as a clog in your coronary arteries or severe allergic reactions, may leave you with heart-related pain. However, this pain is often unrelated to physical illness. Despite the discomfort, extreme grief, sadness, fear, stress, or other emotions can be a cause of physical ailments. In these cases, learning how to control your emotions can be beneficial. Many people also find counseling supportive during these times.

Emotional Pain Can Be Severe

Does Your Heart Or Chest Hurt?

It can be normal to experience physical pain when experiencing intense emotions. Studies have found this is a common phenomenon, with many people associating sadness with physical pain. This emotional pain is temporary for some people and might occur while crying or during a difficult moment. For others, the pain can last longer or appear throughout the day. Regardless, it is often a safe pain and may not be associated with physical issues such as heart failure, blood clots, or low blood pressure. However, if you are experiencing chest pain and are unsure of the cause, you can talk to your doctor to rule out concerns like a heart attack, heart failure, heart disease, or other heart related health issues. Take note of your symptoms so that you can accurately report them to your doctor to receive a diagnosis.

However, if your chest pain is related to emotional distress, you may be experiencing a broken heart. For those who experience emotional pain long-term, there may be stress-related physical challenges, such as inflammation, chest pain, headaches, high blood pressure, or chronic pain. Prolonged emotional and physical pain can also be a sign of depression or anxiety, two mental health conditions often accompanying physical symptoms.

You may also be facing physical conditions like broken heart syndrome, also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy. Broken heart syndrome, which can also be referred to as takotsubo cardiomyopathy, can occur when someone experiences periods of extreme emotional or physical stress. This stress can overwhelm the body and cause heart muscle weakness as the heart contracts. Those experiencing a heartbreak or broken heart syndrome may feel as though they are having heart attack-like symptoms, often experiencing symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath. In those cases, it's important for patients to talk to their primary care physician about any symptoms they have been experiencing. Heart attacks and other chest issues can be urgent concerns and require professional medical attention.

How To Cope With Heart Pain And Emotional Pain 

Your heart health, whether physical or emotional, can be important to maintain. While it can be challenging to experience painful situations, there are ways to learn from these experiences and recover. The following tips may guide you as you learn to cope with your emotions. Note that suppressing emotions can increase physical and emotional challenges, so being open and willing to cope with them is often the healthiest option. 

Discover What You Can Learn From This Situation 

Many people find themselves in situations that cause heartache at some point in their lives. If you find yourself in this place, consider processing the situation to see what you can learn about yourself or others as you advance. 

For example, if a significant other disrespects you, consider what signs you might look out for in your next relationship to avoid these patterns. You can also consider your boundaries with this individual to defend yourself from harm. Emotional pain often teaches lessons and can tell you when you're in an unsafe situation or unhappy. Keep these things in mind as you move forward. 

If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 for support. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. You can also use the online chat

Tap Into Your Support System

If you feel your pain is too much to handle alone, talking with a family member or friend you can trust may be beneficial during stressful situations. Researchers have found that social connection can increase physical and emotional health, which may help you relieve your physical symptoms.

When you talk to these people, let them know how you feel and what you need from them. Heartache may be a sign that you need someone to spend time with to help distract you from sitting in your pain. Your family and friends may also have a unique perspective to support you through these feelings. If you do not have a close support system, consider the following options: 

  • Making friends in online support groups
  • Attending an in-person support group 
  • Joining a club at your university
  • Attending a meet-up with a group in your town 
  • Going to events in your city and talking to people to make friends
  • Talking to a therapist 

Acknowledge Your Ability To Persevere 

There may be times when you feel as if you can't make it past a particular heartache. In these cases, reflecting on other times you have experienced emotional pain and persevered may be beneficial. If you have lived through an experience you weren't sure you could handle, such as a breakup or the loss of a loved one, consider thinking of any newfound strength you could tap into because of this experience. Doing so may help you build confidence to face the situation at hand.  Knowing that you overcame a situation where you felt intense heartache and survived can help you build resiliency.

Emotional Pain Can Be Severe

Look For Ways To Help Others

When you go through difficult situations, it can open a door for you to help others going through similar situations. At a certain point in your recovery process, it may help you take a step forward if you take your focus off yourself and use your time and energy to help someone else. 

If someone is going through a situation similar to what you have been through, you may be able to empathize with them more than others. You may be able to use your experience to encourage them to continue moving forward as well. Helping others can also give you a sense of purpose, showing you that you make a positive difference in the world. 

Seek Professional Support

It can be easy to feel stuck in emotional pain. You might struggle to recover and move past it. If you feel trapped in your pain, consider contacting a counselor for further support. A licensed therapist can be a guide as you move through these experiences and teach you to cope with stress induced physical symptoms and emotional pain. If you feel hesitant to reach out to a therapist in person for any reason or can't afford face-to-face counseling, you might also benefit from online therapy. 

Online counseling can make receiving support easier for people experiencing emotional pain. Seeing a counselor from home online can make you feel comfortable during challenging moments. In addition, online therapy is often hundreds of dollars cheaper per month. Studies have found it more cost-effective than most forms of face-to-face therapy. 

Research in the field of psychology has found online therapy to be an effective alternative to in-person counseling. One study suggested no significant differences between internet-based therapy and the traditional office-based variety in terms of positive client outcomes. To get started, you can complete a brief questionnaire through a platform like BetterHelp to receive support within 48 hours. 


Emotional pain can be associated with uncomfortable physical symptoms, and you're not alone if you're experiencing it. Suppose your symptoms aren't disappearing after talking to friends and family, distracting yourself, or offering support to others. In that case, you might also benefit from reaching out to a counselor for further guidance and support.  

Learn to strengthen your mental health

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started