When we get sad..:

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Why when we get sad a physical feeling of a “lump” sometimes forms in our throat?

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Some of your facial and neck muscles react subconsciously in order to show your emotions, for example if you are happy the muscles near your cheeks rise subconsciously, right? Similar thing happens when you are sad – your face and neck muscles all tense up affecting your facial expression and posture to show others than you are sad, and one specific set of muscles near a part of your vocal cord called the glottis becomes really stiff when tensed up, and this sudden loss of elasticity in that otherwise extremely flexible part of the body gives the illusion of a “lump” being present in your throat

This is the globus sensation.

During times of extreme stress, our “fight or flight” response kicks in (sympathetic nervous system) which floods our bodies with hormones that can help you engage in physical activity (run or fight). This happens even when the extreme stress is not an actual danger. Your body can’t distinguish between you being upset about a fight you had with your partner and being upset that a leopard is chasing you.

One part of this response is a forced opening of the glottis (the entry to your airway) – this enlarged opening allows you to take in more air with each breath, which is useful when running.

However, the glottis needs to close every time you swallow, and since your tear ducts empty into your sinuses and drain down your throat, you have to swallow frequently when crying or being “on the verge of tears”.

Closing the glottis while the sympathetic nervous system is actively trying to keep it open is hard and creates a strain as the muscles fight to close, which is the lump you feel.

The lump you feel in your throat when you’re sad is called the globus sensation and it’s a physical response to an emotional trigger. When we experience strong emotions like sadness, anxiety, or fear, the muscles in our throat tighten and we feel a sense of constriction. This tightening of the muscles is what causes the lump-like sensation.