If you've ever been heartbroken and literally felt it in your chest, there may have been more to it than you thought.

A study has proved that emotions affect the body in different and distinctive ways, which are perhaps the root of such descriptions as being heavy with sadness or hot-headed with anger.

Sadness drains our energy and weakens our limbs. We feel it in our chests - and hearts.

Anger has the opposite effect, making us more aware of our head and arms than usual, perhaps because we are subconsciously squaring up for a fight.


Depression also leaves us weak, while disgust is felt in the throat and digestive system.

The findings come from Finnish scientists who showed 700 volunteers films and read them stories to elicit particular emotions.

The men and women were given outlines of bodies and asked to colour in the parts they felt became more or less active.

Results for the Finnish, Swedish and Taiwanese volunteers were the same across cultures, with love felt right down to people's toes and happiness suffusing the whole body with feeling.

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers said such physical sensations may underpin how we experience emotion, and the study may help better understand depression and anxiety.