health Oct 21, 2021

Jealousy is a very normal and naturally occurring feeling, and it is a part of human nature. It is a feeling of displeasure towards someone because of what they have and the attention they get.

Jealousy is a fundamental social, powerful and ugly emotion composed of affective, cognitive, and behavioral components.
It is a complex emotion found in people of all ages, genders and sexual orientations. Both men and women are equal to express jealousy and it is evoked when a person finds a threat to a valued relationship from a third party.
The threat may be real or imagined and contains feelings ranging from suspicion to anger to fear to humiliation.
Jealousy generally refers to the thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, and concern over lack of safety.
Jealousy can consist of one or more emotions such as anger, envy, incapability, helplessness or disgust.
Jealousy can also be described as a fear that another person may take something that belongs to him.
For poet and activist Maya Angelou, it’s like salt: a little can enhance the flavor but too much can spoil the pleasure.
German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche described it as a scorpion turning its poisoned sting against itself.


The main reasons a person becomes jealous may be, low self-esteem, communication issues, loneliness, or, in relationships, differing interpersonal boundaries.
Some other reasons may be sibling rivalry, insecurity, competition, perfectionism, trust issues etc.
In adolescents, jealousy has been linked with both aggression and low self-esteem.
Lack of trust in the process of life leads to insecurity, which in turn creates jealousy.
Jealousy can either be suspicious or reactive.

Neuro biological effects

Jealousy causes increased brain activity in areas associated with the emotions.
Oxytocin, also known as the "love hormone," is released by the pituitary gland.
It acts as a chemical messenger and plays an important role in human social behaviors.
It affects behaviors such as trust, empathy and generosity, and also affects opposite behaviors, such as jealousy.

Role of amygdala

The brain is a complex organ.  The main part of the brain responsible for processing emotions is the limbic system.
The amygdala is an important part of the limbic system and it plays an important role in emotion and behavior.
It is located above the brain stem and is highly involved with the processing of the emotions, feelings of pleasure, and memories.
Activation or inhibition of amygdala of the brain can induce jealousy.
When the amygdala is activated, it stimulates the hypothalamus.
Hypothalamus induces pituitary gland to release cortico tropic hormones (CTH).
Adreno cortico tropic hormone (ACTH) of the pituitary gland sends signals to the adrenal gland which is located above the kidney, to produce its cortical hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.
As these hormones enter the bloodstream, they cause some physical changes that are involved in jealousy, like increase in blood pressure, heart-rate, weakened immunity, anxiety and insomnia.

Psycho social impacts

Psychological effects of jealousy include a decrease in one's perceived self-worth, emotional instability, feelings of bitterness, the breaking of relationships, prolonged depression and extreme anxiety.
Sociological impact of jealousy reveals that jealousy is socially useful, indeed, indispensable to social order and it is shaped by society and culture.
The incidence of jealousy may vary across cultures, but jealousy remains a cultural universal.
Cultural learning can influence the situations that trigger jealousy and the manner in which jealousy is expressed. Attitudes toward jealousy can also change within a culture over time.

Health consequences of jealousy

Jealousy is both a short-term and long-term struggle. It is normal to feel jealous once in a while. However, extreme jealousy can damage relationships and health.
Jealousy can cause trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, a fast heart rate, weakened immunity and depression.
Abnormal jealousy, also called pathological jealousy or extreme jealousy, may be a sign of an underlying mental health issue, such as schizophrenia, anxiety, or issues with control.
When jealous feelings are long-lasting, prevalent, or severe, it may indicate that the cause is an underlying mental health issue.
Some mental health issues and symptoms associated with jealousy include:
Schizophrenia, Paranoia, Psychosis, Attachment issues, Anxiety, Borderline personality (BPD)

Emotion-cognition balance

Emotion has a significant influence on the cognitive processes in humans, including perception, attention, learning, memory, reasoning, and problem solving.
Emotion has a particularly strong influence on attention, especially modulating the selectivity of attention as well as motivating action and behavior.

Realization and self-control

The first step in overcoming jealousy is to drain the contradiction, and recognize that feelings of jealousy are totally normal.
The issue has to be recognized and a breath is taken for a second to let the emotions take over.
Later, what’s really causing jealousy should be identified, and an idea has to be produced to solve the problem to overcome it.
There is no instant cure for jealousy except accepting it as normal and challenging the negative thought by practicing mindfulness to reduce its pull.
Accept that jealousy is just part of human being. Our energy has to be exploited by focusing on ourselves, rather than others.
Trust people and communicate properly with them.
Keep yourself busy and improve your self-esteem.
When jealousy is overwhelming, talking to a therapist can help enormously.


A. Sandhya

M.Sc Zoology

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