Stress can come from any number of sources, including your job, relationships, or life challenges and other emotionally taxing situations (just to name a few).

The concept of geopathic stress appears to add one more potential source to consider: the energy of the earth itself.

Most people have very little idea what lies in the ground below them. Maybe you’ve never even considered the geological or man-made features underneath your home.

Geopathic stress rests on the idea that the Earth gives off a certain energy vibration that’s disrupted by underground features, including:

  • tunnels
  • sewers
  • geological faults
  • pipes
  • mineral deposits
  • utility lines
  • underground water

Living above one of these areas of energy disturbance, according to this theory, can result in geopathic stress. And that stress is said to cause a range of physical and psychological symptoms.

The idea that bad vibes or negative energy can affect health and wellness isn’t at all new.

While the concept of geopathic stress seems to originate in the early 1900s, it shares a lot of similarities with long-standing practices like feng shui and dowsing, both of which many people find helpful.

To date, though, there’s no scientific evidence to support geopathic stress. Most medical professionals don’t recognize this phenomenon, much less consider it a threat to well-being.

It goes without saying that geopathic zones — the underground features said to lead to geopathic stress — exist all over the place.

Geopathic stress theory suggests that passing through one of these zones quickly probably won’t have much of an impact. So, if your regular route to work takes you over a series of underground tunnels or a large mineral deposit, you likely won’t notice any symptoms.

Anecdotal reports and other online sources suggest you’re most likely to notice symptoms when you live or work directly over a geopathic zone, especially if you sleep directly above the energy disturbance.

The following symptoms have been attributed to geopathic stress:

Some have also suggested that geopathic stress can disrupt certain environmental features. For example, roads lying over geopathic zones might be more prone to cracking or potholes, and traffic accidents might happen on these stretches of road more frequently.

In short, geopathic stress has been associated with plenty of physical and mental health symptoms that lack a clear cause. Some people have gone so far as to suggest this phenomenon can explain miscarriages and cancer, but no scientific evidence supports either link.

It’s hard to say.

Even proponents of geopathic stress agree that most people aren’t aware of it. Not only does that make it pretty tough to prove or disprove, it also calls into question just how significant its impacts are.

It would stand to reason that a phenomenon responsible for so many health concerns would earn attention from leading experts and generate more recognizable evidence.

Yet some experts have expressed skepticism that geopathic stress alone could cause so many issues.

The Earth does have an electromagnetic field. According to the World Health Organization, however, there’s no evidence that exposure to low-frequency electromagnetism plays any part in the development of health conditions, from physical concerns like cancer and cardiovascular disease to mental health concerns like anxiety and depression.

While experts generally don’t recognize the existence of geopathic stress, you can find studies that suggest otherwise. But not all studies are created equal — and those looking at geopathic stress have some major flaws.

Example 1

In a study from 2010, researchers asked 154 men of varying ages to lie down along geopathic stress zones for 20 minutes. Next, they took their blood pressure and heart rate and compared them with measurements taken in a neutral zone.

These measurements showed some variation between the two zones, though in many cases the difference was very small. Based on these findings, the researchers concluded these geopathic zones appeared to have some influence on typical bodily functioning.

However, this study had a small sample size and made no mention of a control group.

A control group would include participants who didn’t lie on the zone. While testing, neither group would know whether they were on the geopathic zone.

The lack of a control group makes it difficult for researchers to take into account other potential factors for the changes in blood pressure and heart rate.

The researchers themselves also noted that 20 minutes may not be adequate to test potential effects of geopathic stress zones.

Example 2

Another small study from 2010 explored the potential impact of geopathic zones on well-being and work performance.

Researchers gave 26 people a series of reaction tasks in a geopathic stress zone and again in a designated neutral zone. Participants answered questions about their well-being after each part of the experiment.

The results suggest the geopathic zone didn’t seem to affect the participants’ task performance. Researchers did note, though, that the participants’ questionnaire answers suggested decreased well-being in the geopathic zone.

While this study was both randomized and blinded, it was quite small, even compared to the small study mentioned above.

Example 3

In a very small randomized controlled trial from 2005, researchers used a gas discharge visualization (GDV) system to detect different levels of “glow” in 52 participants, both in a geopathic zone and a neutral zone.

Participants showed less glow in the geopathic zone, a finding that led study authors to conclude that different zones affected the participants in different ways.

Even without their small sample sizes and other limitations, each study identified geopathic stress zones through dowsing. When dowsing, a person uses a stick or rod with a fork in it to locate minerals under the ground, according to the United States Geological Survey.

Importantly, dowsing is a practice that’s not backed by science. What’s more, while some people believe GDV devices can capture a person’s aura and reveal signs of illness, scientific research hasn’t found any proof.

Keep in mind that the power of suggestion can go a long way. When you think something’s wrong with your house, you might feel unsettled and stressed.

This uneasiness can contribute to very real health issues — like trouble sleeping and anxiety symptoms — that are similar to the purported signs of geopathic stress.

Fatigue can fuel other symptoms, feeding into a loop of distress that only reinforces the belief that something’s wrong.

Many people look to alternate explanations when medical treatment can’t explain or treat their symptoms.

If you feel exhausted, sick, and stressed and your healthcare provider hasn’t diagnosed any specific illness, you might feel willing to try anything to find the cause and get some relief. That’s perfectly understandable.

Still, you have other options beyond turning to energy healers for expensive treatments around your home.

When you believe something in your home or office is affecting your health, these tips can help you get more insight on potential causes.

Spend a few days with a friend

Taking some time away from your house can help you determine whether it’s really the cause of your symptoms. If your symptoms begin to improve right away, you could be dealing with some type of household hazard.

On the other hand, if you still have symptoms away from home, the underlying cause probably isn’t related to your house at all.

Do cold or flu-like symptoms appear at work and disappear over the weekend or other periods of time away? You could have something called sick building syndrome (SBS).

SBS involves a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, trouble concentrating, headaches, and irritability — all symptoms attributed to geopathic stress.

If this pattern continues, let your healthcare provider know about your symptoms, particularly when they start and go away. Mention your symptoms to someone at work who can help you track down potential causes.

Check for other household hazards

If it still seems that the problem is stemming from your home, check for other things that might trigger unexplainable symptoms, like:

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can closely mimic signs of geopathic stress. You might notice:

  • persistent headaches
  • weakness and fatigue
  • confusion
  • dizziness and nausea
  • blurry vision

Exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide can cause brain damage and death, so it’s always wise to double-check the battery in your carbon monoxide detector. If you don’t have a detector, get one right away.

Examine other sources of stress

Stress, anxiety, and depression can all contribute to physical symptoms, including:

  • fatigue
  • difficulty sleeping
  • headaches

Trouble focusing on tasks is another common symptom of several mental health concerns.

Your mood might seem to shift rapidly with no explanation, and your distress can spill over into your relationships with others.

Not everyone recognizes mental health symptoms right away. It can help to consider the following:

  • Are you experiencing life changes?
  • Do you have a hard time getting excited about things you usually enjoy?
  • Does life seem less satisfying?
  • Do you feel burned out with your job or relationship?
  • Do you have any big worries you can’t shake?

Talking with a therapist can help you get some more clarity on what’s bothering you.

Talk with a professional

If you have regular symptoms that keep coming back — like persistent headache and fatigue, body aches, or mood changes — start by keeping track of them in a daily log.

Write down everything, even things that don’t seem relevant. Minor symptoms could provide more clues. Be sure to note:

  • the severity of the symptoms
  • when they appear
  • when they go away

Then, talk with your healthcare provider and show them the notes you’ve been keeping. Plenty of symptoms have no apparent cause until you talk with a medical professional trained to notice the bigger picture.

Geopathic stress is likely nothing to worry about, since research hasn’t found any conclusive evidence that it even exists.

Still, there’s no harm in moving your bed, cleaning your room, and rearranging other pieces of furniture if that makes you feel better.

Opening up your living space and addressing potential hazards like dust and mold can promote wellness by improving your health and giving you a fresh outlook.

The best part? It’s absolutely free.

Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues.