The Element of Fear

I will write more than one blog on the subject of fear as it is a huge topic.  Although my main interest is how fear affects patients, it is a societal issue as well.  In our approach as naturopathic physicians, we acknowledge your lifestyle and environment in its effects on your health. This includes the society we live in, as I am perpetually saying that we live in a “type A” society here in the USA.

There is a power in words , fear, probably already puts you on alert. Marshmallows or belly laughing might be more relaxing. Fear can be conjured by words or situations in which one person interprets these as fear-inducing but another person may not. A more external example warranting fear would be physical harm, physical pain, war scenes, threat to one’s life.  People have their own list of fears such as fear of failure, fear of losing their spouse, fear of flying, fear of snakes and on and on.  There are individual variations, and no correct or incorrect response.

Fear has a similar response as the physiological stress response. When you interpret something as  stressful you will secrete excitatory neurotransmitters  and the hormone cortisol in response. The muscles will get more blood the digestive system will not. The body/mind is in fight or flight mode. In this day and age we are more often dealing with multiple anxieties with no resolution. This hyperalert state can amp up thoughts, negative thoughts, and out-of-control anxiety. It is not comfortable and there is no possibility of reasoning something out in this state.

Here are some examples based on patients I have seen over the years. I have had a lot of patients with chronic anxiety, insomnia, fatigue and along with that maybe another disease. This is in all ages and all too often teen age and young twenty year-olds. I know that either there was an event or more than one event that started the anxiety response, such as an abuse,  or losing a parent at a young age or growing up in a household where a parent had anxiety or neglect. The lack of safety, calming, nurturing, reassurance and delight on a daily basis for a developing child leaves them in anxiety. Over the years this anxiety response gets triggered by similar situations, and is still there as an adult.

The remedy is to help your nervous system access it’s calming neurotransmitters. Your brain also needs training to stop the worried thoughts and replace with a soothing message. I will always use a homeopathic remedy in these cases to address shock, fear, grief and the characteristic manifestations in each particular person. I also give the nutrients to increase serotonin and GABA, herbal formulas to calm the nervous system, and offer tools for teaching the body new responses.  Simple breathing routines are the easiest and of course, they are free.  A plethora of other helpful tools are available: yoga, tai chi, EMDR, EFT (emotional freedom technique), dancing, singing. EMDR, EFT ,repeating mantras and other similar techniques can help in an acute fear/anxiety. Dancing, singing, racquetball, etc help to channel nervous energy out of your body.  Yoga, tai chi, and really all of the above are co-ordinating the body/mind in a learning experience, making new tracks in the brain and these are the roads away from the old anxiety tracks.

Lastly, don’t watch and listen to the news which loves to hyperfocus on the negative and blow situations out of proportion in order to have people be glued to their TV show. One example in one word: Ebola.

So, since you are not supported by the media that you live in a safe place and that there are some very good options for staying healthy I suggest you take matters into your own hands.  I love this saying: “Worrying is like praying for something you don’t want” !