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Life is more meaningful to us when we spend our time with our loved ones. We want them to be a part of our happiness, grief, and all-important milestones in life. There is an invisible bond that connects each of us to the other. You connect to your partner through various levels, be it emotionally, physically, or mentally. Sympathy pain is the physical or psychological feeling you get from witnessing someone else’s discomfort.

All relations need mutual compassion, empathy, and sympathy. Sympathy is when you are able to understand what the person is feeling. Empathy is when you feel another person’s feeling and the willingness to relieve the suffering of another is compassion.

Sympathy pains are most often talked about during pregnancy, where you feel like you’re sharing the pains of your pregnant partner. The mental connection between you and your partner is so strong that you feel what they feel.

In the medical world, sympathy pains are referred to as Couvade syndrome. It is an extremely common phenomenon.

When do you feel Sympathy pains?

There are various accounts and stories of people experiencing sympathy pains. Sometimes you get a bad feeling and judge it to be a gut feeling that something is not right. Then later you find out something has gone wrong in the life of your loved one. We all would have felt this at least at some point in life.

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Sympathy pains occur when you have deep connections with friends and family members who might be going through an unpleasant experience. Your mental connection is so strong that you unknowingly start sharing their pain.

I have often felt that I reflect the moods of my family without even them disclosing their issues. Later on, when they open to me, I realize why I felt the way I felt.

Sometimes, sympathy pains also occur among strangers. When you see the physical pain or mental anguish in others, you empathize with them and start experiencing their pain. If you have felt discomfort after seeing images or videos of others in pain it could be sympathy pain.

Why do you get Sympathy pains?

Sympathy pains are psychological, the exact cause of it is unknown in the medical world. It is not something you need to worry about as a mental health issue.

It can also develop due to a feeling of attachment to the person experiencing the discomfort. In a pregnant couple, Sympathy pain might occur due to all the excitement, stress, and strong emotional attachment with each other.

Some researchers also believe that sympathy pains occur due to the chain in your hormone levels. It is possible these hormonal changes could contribute to many symptoms of Couvade syndrome. Another case known as synesthesia is a neurological condition that causes senses to get mixed and matched in the brain.

There have also been negative instances where you develop sympathy pains due to jealousy, guilt, or a feeling of rivalry.

Episodes of extreme sympathy pain can be called “telesomatic experiences.” There is a hypothesis that they’re a necessary part of the human experience, often driven by deep emotional bonds. They reveal we’re connected in ways that transcend physical barriers, even distance and time. That love appears to be at the heart of sympathy pain.

Someone who is inherently more empathetic is more likely to have sympathy pains in response to someone else’s discomfort. You start empathizing with others’ pain when you see someone gets hurt and this could cause physical sensations in you. Your mood also changes based on how others are feeling.

How to know when you experience Sympathy pains?

Sympathy pains don’t pose any danger to you or cause any physical harm, though the sensation can be real enough.

Somatic symptoms are real physical symptoms that result from emotional distress. It’s believed that feelings of anxiety or stress may lead to somatic symptoms. A sudden change in your partner’s or family member’s life also leads to feelings of stress and anxiety, whether a person realizes it or not.

Emotional or spiritual pain involves feelings of anxiety or distress. Emotional or spiritual pain can happen if you’re struggling to find sources of meaning, hope, love, peace, comfort, strength, and connection in your life. These kinds of pain can make you re-evaluate the meaning of life and think more deeply about your beliefs and relationships. 

Though symptoms vary from person to person and depending on situations, some common symptoms of sympathy pains are as follows

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Appetite changes
  • Excitement
  • Heartburn
  • Insomnia
  • Cramps
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea
  • Backpain
  • Respiratory issues
  • Bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased libido
  • Mood swings
  • Stress
  • Crying spells

In Couvade Syndrome, Men who experience sympathy pains will likely experience the initial ailments during the first trimester. It is commonly reported that the symptoms lessen in the second trimester and pick up again in the third.

How to control Sympathy pains?

The best cure? Talking it out. You both need to express what you’re feeling, and make decisions together.

There is no definite treatment for sympathy pains. It is important to focus on your anxiety and stress management techniques. These may include relaxation, a healthy diet, and regular exercise.

You can practice meditation and yoga along with the person whose pain you are sharing. This will help ease both your pain and heal you both spiritually. You can also make positive changes in your diet. Eat healthy and soul-filling food. Eat a lot of multivitamin-rich food.

Make yourself busy, interact with others, and be socially active. Go for a run or ensure you meet a daily level of activity. Take up a hobby to keep yourself occupied and enjoy some me-time.

Try to avoid being dragged into temptations. When you are stressed, it is easy to give up on your routine and binge on everything. Have self-control and help each other. Remember this too shall pass!

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Symptoms of sympathy pain usually resolve once the person’s pain and discomfort start to dissipate. For example, symptoms of Couvade syndrome may resolve as soon as the baby is born.

An important distinction between sympathy pains and compassion is how they can affect your overall well-being. If you are frequently feeling the pain of another, you may experience a great deal of burnout. This is a common problem for caregivers and health care providers.

Compassion, however, is a renewable resource. When you have the ability to feel empathy for the other person but then extend a hand to alleviate someone’s pain, you are less likely to burn out.

One main concern is not to correct sufferers in the moment of their pain, nor to call into question the deep distress of those who are suffering. Instead, comforters should maintain their integrity while joining others in their pain. Maintain your boundaries, preserve self-differentiation, avoid enmeshment, reject corrupt and unhealthy empathy.

If anxiety or depression from sympathy pains interferes with your loved one’s daily routine, encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional. Remember sharing your family’s pain is a good gesture but you should not add to their miseries. If you have long-lasting sympathy pain or are experiencing long-term mood changes, see your doctor for advice.

Is it real?

Sympathy pain is not a medically recognized syndrome, it is mostly anecdotal. The stories of sympathy pains are shared from experience, one on one. We all have the capability to feel other’s pain. Though the intensity might vary. There are multiple phenomenons that are beyond the capability of science to explain, and sympathy pain is one of them.

Our brain and mental connections are a wide-open area for further research and studies. Spiritual studies may explain sympathy pains as karmic connections or connections from past lives. Emotions are prevalent in spirituality.

Emotional or spiritual pain involves feelings of anxiety or distress. Emotional or spiritual pain can happen if you’re struggling to find sources of meaning, hope, love, peace, comfort, strength, and connection in your life. These kinds of pain can make you re-evaluate the meaning of life and think more deeply about your beliefs and relationships. 

It is amazing how people experience others’ pains even when they are at a long distance from each other. Sympathy pains are not moments of mere intuition or empathy, but a reflection of a greater love running through humanity. A glimpse at how connected we all truly are.

It is as real as it gets for you and me. We might not be able to convince others of what we feel, but have hope and help ourselves. Get help from your family and friends if needed. Always be there for others as well. It is a difficult world we live in, and we cannot live without the support of others.

Spirituality means different things to different people. Religion and faith might be part of someone’s spirituality, but spirituality isn’t always religious. All these feelings are normal and it may help to talk to someone from your own faith tradition for support.