Pectus Excavatum Psychological Effect & Why You Should Worry

Evidence Based This post has medical citations

pectus excavatum mental effects

Psychological Effects of Pectus Excavatum

Up until lately, very little was known about the negative psychological consequences of pectus excavatum. Recent studies have revealed that you shouldn’t oversee these harmful mental effects.

They must be treated with the same intensity as the physical symptoms. Back in the days, pectus excavatum was examined only as a cosmetic problem.

No attention was given to the psychological consequences. The mental effect of the deformity is what actually worsens the patient’s quality of life.

No matter how severe your deformity is, the way you perceive it mentally is what matters the most. You can have an extremely hollow chest and feel secure and confident about it.

Vice versa, you can have a slight dent in the chest, and that can make you insecure and anxious. The most important thing that this study discovered is that pectus excavatum affects the patients on every single aspect of their life.

Pectus Excavatum Is More Harmful Than Scientists First Thought

Fortunately, in the last few years, awareness for pectus excavatum has been significantly raised. Specialists and researchers started to be aware of it.

Because of that, a lot of studies were done. Their purpose was to discover more about both the physical and psychological effects of the deformity.

The findings surprised the scientists. Before the studies, the doctors thought that the only mental downside of the deformity was that the patients weren’t comfortable taking their shirts off in public.

What has been discovered was more serious. The emotional consequences were more frightening and destructive than the physical symptoms.

If you’re feeling any of these mental symptoms, please consider going to a therapist. Don’t allow this condition to destroy your potential as a human being.

You deserve to have regular mental health and have a healthy social life.


Please take care of your mental health if you suffer from pectus excavatum.

Concave Chest Negatively Affects the Sufferer’s Quality of Life

Some of the pectus excavatum sufferers accept their condition. Even though they will feel much better mentally than the ones that are insecure about it, there is a chance that they’ll still feel the psychological limitations of the deformity.

This has been backed up by a scientific study. It revealed that acceptance of the deformity isn’t enough to have well mental health. However, as soon as you physically improve the deformity through physical therapy or surgical procedure, you’ll notice that you’ll feel much better.

If you take action immediately, your quality of life will improve tremendously. The most usual negative feelings that incaved chest patients feel are being self-conscious about their bodily appearance and having a depressive attitude about life.


When you correct the visual aspect of the deformity, your psychological problems associated with it with fade away.

Most Sensitive Years To Feel the Negative Psychological Effects

shy pectus excavatum patient

The study done by Einsiedel and Clausner in 2009, displayed the psychological effects of pectus excavatum, based on the patient’s age. It concluded that the patient’s age played a huge role in the severity of the mental issues associated with the deformity.

As claimed by the scientists, older kids (over 11 years old) with concave sternum had much more psychological complaints than younger children. That’s the exact period when the feelings of shyness, social worry, lack of enthusiasm for social interaction and activities, pessimism, and depressive thoughts are on the rise.

All these emotional problems can have an undesirable effect on the patient’s self-development. What’s disturbing is that these negative mental symptoms start forming when the patients enter their teenage years.

The idea of self-esteem and self-respect is established in those ages. Regularly, adverse psychological effects occur when young patients are finishing elementary school and enter high school.

That’s a vulnerable period in the individual’s social life. I experienced this at first hand. Usually, the loss of confidence caused by the pectus excavatum condition happens at the worst of times.

In my observation, adults with pectus excavatum don’t have such noticeable and intense non-physical adverse effects. However, living a long life occupied by self-confidence issues caused by the deformity isn’t a life lived to the full potential.

Even though adults with indented chests may seem happy and positive on the outside, they are probably living with a lot of regrets.


High-school kids are most prone to feeling negative mental effects caused by the deformity. This can be very harmful to the teenager’s social life.

Can Children Get Emotionally Damaged by Pectus Excavatum?

kid psychological problem with deformity

Negative emotional effects on children with indented chests shouldn’t be neglected. Even though your kid may be healthy mentally, it is still vulnerable by the damaging psychological effects of the deformity. Most kids remain silent about their issue with pectus excavatum.

They don’t discuss it with their parents and friends. Usually, they tend to isolate themselves in a room and keep their negative thoughts with themselves. The more they hold back from discussing their problem with their loved ones, the psychological problem may even get worse.

Most kids with pectus excavatum don’t show their anterior chest wall and ribcage abnormalities to their friends. In their minds, showing their flaws is the worst thing that can happen to them. Being laughed at is their nightmare. If your kid’s peers notice the dent in their sternum, they’ll probably make fun of it.

That will shatter your kid’s self-confidence. The shock will be tough to recover from. Kids with incaved chests think that isolation is safe for their mental well-being.

However, that leads to undesirable effects. Living that way won’t fix the issue. The problem will remain and may even get worse. The thought of being different than other kids gets worse with time. It can lead to complete loneliness and everlasting emotional harm.

Living with pectus excavatum puts a large amount of pressure on your kid. As I said, this happens especially when its peers make fun of the caved-in chest condition. The mental issues will continue to last, even in adulthood.


Children feel weird about the look of their chest. They tend to isolate and not discuss the issue with their friends and family members.

provide emotional support to your kid

How to Help Your Kid with Funnel Chest Psychologically

Does your child have pectus excavatum? Are you noticing any changes in their way of behaving? Most kids are masters in hiding their emotions and feelings about their deformed chests from the world. No pectus excavatum sufferer wants to be treated like a freak.

Most patients with the deformity think of themselves as freaks. If you’ve never had it, you’ll never understand how damaging it can be psychologically. Kids with sunken chests don’t want to be considered as freaks, particularly during their sensitive teenage years.

As a kid who grew up with congenital pectus excavatum, I know the exact feelings. My parents recognized my change of behavior as soon as I entered high school. They showed me a lot of love, despite my irregularities.

That helped me tremendously in dealing with the psychological damages of the deformity. That made me understand the significant role parents play in their children’s mental development. You must help your kid the best way imaginable.

As soon as you see a dent in your kid’s breastbone, please start displaying unconditional love. That is the most important thing a parent can do to their child. However, you should be extremely cautious about this.

Your child can misunderstand an incorrect tactic on your part. That can cause more significant damage and lead to more prominent isolation. Understanding your kid’s psychological problems is a challenging thing to do.

You must ask the right questions. Please, prepare yourself before asking your kid any questions about its pectus excavatum deformity. Formulate the right questions before you proceed.

This is a compassionate thing to do.

book for indented chest patients

A Parent’s Guide To Pectus Excavatum

It is the most authoritative book about pectus excavatum in today’s market. There are lots of great tips that can help your kid spiritually. Please, read this book before you start acting as a psychotherapist to your kid.

The book will help you and your kid recognize that you aren’t the only ones that are going through this. By implementing the methods in the book, your life will be much more convenient and more comfortable.


Please be aware how your child behaves in social interactions. Do everything in your power so your kid will feel loved. That’s critically important.

Perform Aerobic Exercises Daily to Help You Mentally

According to the description from the Global Healing Center website, “Aerobic exercise is a type of movement such as running or cycling that gets your heart pumping quicker and raises your oxygen intake.”

Great examples of aerobic workout are; running, swimming, Pilates, cycling, fast walking, circuit training, snow sledding, skiing, and rollerblading. We are all told we need to participate in aerobic workouts to acquire many health benefits.

A couple of them are weight loss, better skin, and muscle tone. Surprisingly, that’s not all! There are amazing psychological benefits of aerobic exercises too!

So, what are the psychological benefits of aerobic exercise for pectus excavatum patients? In short, the benefits are; improved mood, reduces anxiety, reduces depression, and acts as a buffer against stress.

This will help every single pectus excavatum patient mentally. I noticed a terrific improvement in my client’s mood after they implemented aerobic exercises in their workouts.

With that being said, let’s get into these benefits in more detail.


Aerobic exercises provide awesome psychological benefits.

Most Effective Way to Improve Your Mood

When we exercise aerobically, our bodies produce chemicals called endorphins. Scientifically speaking, these chemicals are polypeptides.

They can bind to the neuron-receptors in the brain to relieve pain. Endorphins are not just produced from exercise; they are also triggered by deep-breathing, meditation, eating spicy food, and deep laughter.

Just make sure you don’t do all five at once. These feel-good chemicals are believed to produce four essential effects on the body. They dismiss aching, reduce stress, enhance the immune system, and postpone the aging process.

Endorphins are known to cause a positive feeling in your body. The feeling is very similar to morphine (opiate pain medication). In other words, you don’t need external substances to feel great in your skin.

The feeling after a challenging aerobic workout is often defined as “elated.” You’ll have an optimistic and energetic outlook on life if you become a fan of aerobic exercises. That will help you tremendously with your pectus excavatum, both spiritually and mentally.

It will be very worth it to invest in some home fitness gym equipment. That will make working out easy for you. However, I always prefer to do aerobic exercises outside.

However, I do have an indoor stationary bike. If it’s raining outside, I have no excuse not to exercise and take care of my body and emotions.

How to Get Rid of Pectus Excavatum Inner Isolation

Depression and anxiety lead to a feeling of isolation, especially if you have inherited the deformity. To do aerobic sports, you can choose to join a running club, swimming club, gym, or any other sports club.

That’s a beautiful way to meet new people. You may even stumble upon someone who also has a concave chest deformity. Socializing with new individuals will be therapeutic.

Also, that’s an excellent way to gain the psychological benefits of aerobic activity. It will get you out of your comfort zone. Joining aerobic sports clubs will put you in a position where you must speak to people.

Aerobic exercise also is a great way to instill calmness in your mind. That’s done by fully immersing in the presence of the activity you’re doing.

For an hour or so each day, you will be challenged to finish a run in a previously set amount of time. Exercising and toning will boost anyone’s self-assurance.

That’s especially true if you have the pectus excavatum condition. Clothes will fit better, your body will be muscular and toned, you’ll have a beautiful shine on your skin, and you’ll look healthier than ever before.

Be prepared to receive a ton of compliments from friends and strangers. This is often enough to get away from the dark cloud of mild depression.

Aerobic Exercises Are Crucial for Stress and Worry Reduction

Do you ever feel like the whole world is collapsing on top of you? I think everyone experienced this feeling at one stage or another. If you stay optimistic, this feeling will pass like a dark cloud.

After it passes, a bright blue sky will appear. Aerobic exercise is a fantastic way to stay positive, especially if you’re suffering from psychological issues caused by pectus excavatum.

When you are stressed out, it is vital to get enough sleep. People who exercise aerobically go to deep sleep at a faster rate. When they’re awake, they feel more refreshed and have sharper memories.

Studies revealed that exercise increases the blood flow to the brain, bringing extra sugar and oxygen to it. This helps enormously when you’re concentrating.

You’ll do better at school, at work, and in all other essential areas in your life. Once again, the little endorphins will help you psychologically.

They’ll make you happier, relaxed, stress-free, and will lead to making pectus excavatum depression and anxiety a thing of the past.

Feel Grateful That You live in The 21st century

You can use this website as a resource to help you deal with this thoracic deformity, both bodily and spiritually. There are two paths that you can choose to help you fix pectus excavatum.

The one I recommend the most is non-surgical physical therapy. It consists of workouts, wearing braces, using vacuum bell treatment, and stretching.

This approach will significantly help you with your posture and muscle mass. That will make your hollow chest much less perceptible.

As soon as you see muscle tone, good posture, and the decreased dent in the chest (usually within 2-3 months), you’ll feel much better emotionally. The other approach is undergoing an indented chest minimally invasive surgery.

The most effective and common one used is called the Nuss procedure. You may even be the right candidate for a Ravitch procedure.

However, that is much more invasive than the Nuss procedure.


Exercise! It will help you both psychologically and physically while dealing with the funnel chest deformity. There are too many benefits that you will be missing out on if you don’t exercise.

In addition to the aerobic exercises, you’ll need to perform exercises to correct the hollow chest. In my point of view, aerobic exercises are better for your mental health when living with the deformity.

Bodybuilding and stretching exercises, on the other hand, will help you add muscle mass and stretch the muscles causing you poor posture. Combining these two will help you improve your hollow chest deformity, while keeping a positive outlook on life.

That’s how you successfully repair the pectus excavatum deformity, without a surgical procedure!

Article by:

Mihail Veleski

My name is Mihail Veleski. I used to suffer from the pectus excavatum deformity during my teenage years.

2 thoughts on “Pectus Excavatum Psychological Effect & Why You Should Worry”

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