Table of Contents
- Understanding Lupus
- Synopsis Story
- Understanding Emotions & Fear
- Understanding the Impact of Childhood Trauma
- Understanding the Brain
- Adult Survivors of Traumatic Events
- The Autonomic Nervous System
- The Central Nervous System (CNS)
- Understanding the Effects of Inflamed Thinking
- The Role of Rumination
- Understanding the Conscious Mind
- Understanding the Subconscious Mind
- Understanding the Unconscious Mind
- Understanding Stress
- Understanding Childhood Stress
- The Stress Response Systems
- Acute Stress
- Chronic Stress
- Long Term Effects of Cortisol
- Adrenal Fatigue
- Understanding Inflammation
- Understanding the Immune System
Is it really all in our mind? Have you ever considered evaluating the source of diseases? Do people really just pop up with a disease because their body has decided to go haywire for an unknown cause? Most sites with diseases that are not caused by environmental factors, such as smoking, sanitation, food etc. state the cause of a specific disease is “unknown.” In doing research, disease may be caused by a number of factors; however, the main reason may be due to poor emotional health development, and/or ineffective coping methods to stress.
I want to change the way people look at healthcare. When healthcare is thought of, physicians, specialists, or nurses, etc. typically come to mind. Patients are treated for symptoms of a disease or ailment, but where are these diseases coming from in the first place? When a patient is in the hospital, does a health psychologist come around to assess the patient as well? Many children learn to suppress their feelings for many reasons, but that does not mean things are not on their minds. There are many queues that show signs of stressing, but who would know what to look for when it is a child? According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network,
“unlike older children, young children cannot express in words whether they feel afraid, overwhelmed, or helpless. However, their behaviors provide adults with important clues about how they have been affected.” (1) The type of thought patterns a person has leads to an emotion being expressed; an emotion will present a physical state. Negative or positive. Have you heard the saying “you are your worst enemy?” If a person has the power to self-destruct, can a person self-heal as well? Yes, they can. I want to save someone years of self-induced suffering. Here is a deeper look into Lupus SLE.
There are many types of lupus; however, the most common is lupus SLE. What is
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) exactly? Lupus SLE is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body. It can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, digestive tract, brain, and other organs. The underlying cause of autoimmune diseases is not fully known, so there is no known cure at this time. Since there is no cure, the goal of treatment is to control symptoms. (nlm.nih.gov). Although anyone can be diagnosed with lupus, over 90 percent of people diagnosed are women between the ages of 15 and 45. African-American women are three times more likely to be diagnosed with lupus than Caucasian women. Lupus is also common in Latina, Asian, and Native American women. “African-Americans and Latinos tend to get lupus at a younger age and have more severe symptoms, including kidney problems.” (Omenshealth). African American patients also have more seizures and strokes, while Hispanic/Latino patients have more heart problems. The kidney is linked to the emotion “fear.” “Fear is the underlying cause of most diseases. It is detrimental to your life and your health. It causes anger and anger causes hate, which can consume you with relentless suffering.” (PureInsideOut). The heart is linked to negative emotions cruelty, hate, and impatience. (Thaik). Negative thoughts and emotions breed negative results.
To be diagnosed with lupus, a doctor will perform a physical exam and check for the most common signs of lupus. There is no single test to diagnose lupus; however, there are screenings, including blood tests, urinalysis, and chest x-rays that can help give a more informed diagnosis. (Healthline). “Nearly all people with lupus have a positive test for the antinuclear antibody; however, having a positive ANA alone does not mean you will be diagnosed with lupus in most cases.” (nlm.nih.gov). Depending on the patient and their lifestyle, symptoms may
change; however, some common symptoms of lupus include:
• Severe fatigue
• Chest pain
• Painful or swollen joints
• Headaches Rash on cheeks and nose called “butterfly” rash
• Hair loss
• Raynaud’s syndrome (fingers turning white/blue and tingle when cold)
Other symptoms are dependent on the part of the body the disease is attacking. Lupus is a disease of flares, meaning the symptoms worsen making a person feel ill, and remissions meaning the symptoms improve.
I am fully aware of what Lupus SLE is. I understand it is due to the suppression of the immune system consequently making it attack itself in error. My question is why? Why does an immune system just decide to decline? What happened? What triggered the decline? If stress can cause disruption to one’s physical health, does it, along with one’s unresolved emotional pain, trauma, and/or coping methods, have a link to the onset of many diseases? “I learned that illness wasn’t random and wasn’t genetic for the most part, in fact most illnesses can be traced to certain emotional patterns.” (Jade).
Jamie had just gone through a breakup, and her body was pumping high levels of cortisol.
It was not until that person stated to her… “Your skin didn’t look like that before, stop stressing…” that a light bulb had gone off. All these years she had suffered from exacerbated skin problems and Lupus SLE… could she have caused this all herself? Is she really stressed? Why is she stressed? How does she stop stressing? What is the root cause? After doing research, I have come to realize Jamie was initially affected as a child, with her inability to regulate the emotion
“fear.” Her “fear of” abandonment was connected to her exacerbated skin ailments. Her “fear of” replacement was connected to her Lupus SLE. Lupus may stem from the emotion “FEAR.”
A person’s psychological state is an important factor in health. If one feels abandoned but does not feel anger, they become depressed and lose confidence in themselves. The stress hormones released after can irritate the skin. Depression influences the health of a person either by having a direct relationship with the immune system, or by indirectly influencing how a person takes care of themselves. (Beaton). Negative emotions left unacknowledged leaves a greater chance of mental or emotional problems to resurface for a person. “What we believe is that the role of the mind and emotions in our state of health is a vital one.” (Shapiro).
The body responds to the way a person thinks, feels, and acts. When a person is stressed, anxious or upset, the body tries to communicate that something is not right by altering physical conditions. Poor emotional health can weaken the body’s immune system. (FamilyDoctor). If unacknowledged emotions leave a greater chance for problems and emotions to resurface, can these be called a person’s individual triggers? Triggers seem to confirm the idea of “flares” in lupus patients. Emotional health and development is vital, as a person can help and hurt themselves, most times unknowingly.
Understanding Emotions and Fear
“The word emotion can mean several things. Most of the time, it refers to positive or negative feelings that are produced by particular situations. Emotions consist of patterns of physiological responses and species-typical behaviors.” (Albany.edu) Most think of an emotion to refer to the feelings, not to the behaviors. It can also be looked at as a behavior that has consequences for survival and reproduction. An emotional response consists of three types of components: behavioral, autonomic, and hormonal. The integration of these responses is controlled by the amygdala. (Albany.edu ).
Fear is a basic survival emotion that is triggered by a perceived threat. The threat activates the “fight or flight” response, an essential psychological response which prepares the body for a possible threat. (Towey). Fear prepares a person to react to danger, once a potential danger is sensed, the body releases hormones that turns some specific body systems “on” and others “off” that may or may not contribute to the current need of survival; such as “turning off” the digestive system, and sharpening functions such as eyesight to better focus on the threat.
Fear has been proven to impair the formation of long-term memories due to high, sustained levels of cortisol in the body resulting in damage to certain parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus. The hippocampus controls the basic emotions such as: fear, pleasure, and anger, while it drives behaviors such as: hunger, sex, dominance, and care of offspring. (Ncbi.nlm.gov). The hippocampus is critical to both learning and memory as well as to some types of stress response regulation. The damage can make it more difficult to regulate fear and can result in anxiety when one feels afraid. Fear may also interfere with emotion and behavioral regulation processes, such as reading non-verbal cues, interpreting information presented, reflecting before responding, and acting ethically. (Towey).
Many studies have shown that emotions and stress can adversely affect the immune system against disease, as emotions play an important role in regulating systems in the body that influence health. (Bhattacharya). The mind and body are linked, it cannot be seen, only felt. The body reflects one’s emotional and psychological states. It is when the body’s signals are ignored, that illness is able to take control of its own natural defenses. It is a result of the thoughts and emotions transferring to the physical body. (Fractalenlightenment). Condensed molecules from breath exhaled from verbal expressions of anger, hatred, and jealousy, contain toxins. Accumulated over 1 hour, these toxins are enough to kill 80 guinea pigs! Imagine the harm negative behavior does to your body?” (Bhavika).
Understanding the Impact of Childhood Trauma
Emotional and psychological trauma has a great sensory impact on children. It is the result of overly stressful events that can shatter a child’s sense of security, making them feel helpless and vulnerable. Any situation that leaves a person feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it does not involve physical harm. It is not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but a person’s subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless one feels, the more likely they are to be traumatized. (Robinson). Research shows that children who experience traumatic events tend to relive these frightening stimuli and show they are affected through:
• New fears
• Unpredictable emotions, or the inability to regulate them
• Strained relationships
• Sleep difficulties
• Lower immune function
• Actions or play that reenact the event
Toddlers and infants have different reactions from an older child because older children are more equip to verbalize their reactions to threatening or dangerous events. A 2-year-old who witnesses a traumatic event may interpret it quite differently from the way a 5-year-old or an 11year-old would. Many people assume that young age protects children from the impact of traumatic experiences. When young children experience or witness a traumatic event, adults may think children are too young to understand, so it would be better if it was not addressed. Young children are affected by traumatic events, even though they may not understand what happened, or be able to verbalize their troubles. (NTCSN). A young child has not developed their coping skills, as the parents are there to support all of their emotional needs. With the absence of coping skills, it leaves children lacking an accurate understanding of the relationship between cause and effect, thus believing their thoughts, wishes, and fears have the power to become real. Young children are less able to anticipate danger or to know how to keep themselves safe, and so are particularly vulnerable to the effects of trauma. There are many factors that go into causes of traumatic events including:
• Age: generally, the younger the child, the more vulnerable he or she is to the effects.
Children are three times more likely to develop symptoms of stress due to trauma.
• Infants and toddlers are most negatively affected not when they are injured themselves, but rather when they witness their primary caregiver being threatened or harmed. (bethesdahouse.da)
• Proximity: In general, the more details the child observes, the more traumatized that child can become. (NCTSN).
Fear and trauma have a profound impact on the brain especially the developing brain as it is very vulnerable. The basic architecture of the brain provides the foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health. “Although many of the functional capabilities of the mature brain develop throughout life, the vast majority of critical structural and functional organization takes place in childhood. By the age of three the brain has reached 90% of adult size, while the body is still only about 18% of adult size.” (Perry). According to The Center for the Developing Child at
Harvard University’s research, genes provide the basic outline or foundation of the brain; however, experiences influence how or whether genes are expressed, it is not genetically hardwired. (Guerra). Together, genes and experiences shape and affect the quality and development of brain architecture. (1). “The process of building the architecture of the brain is dramatically influenced by life experiences. It is not genetically hardwired. Literally our environment shapes the architecture of our brain in the first year of life.” (Guerra).
The effect of early life trauma on the circuits involved in fear has been shown to inappropriately alert the HPA axis, a system involved in the stress response. This has been shown to produce an ineffective stress response system. Repeated stress exposure is a predictor of non-habituation of the HPA axis. In this situation, the same stressor causes the same set of physiological functions as if it were a new, unique stressor. In a research study, individuals in an active episode of major depression displayed non-habituation. When an acute stressor is repeated, the majority of individuals show habituation of the HPA axis, meaning the brain recognizes the stressor as one that has successfully been adapted to and proceeds accordingly. (Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). A repetitive and unwanted, past-centered, negative thought process, also known as rumination, is also related with non-habituation of the HPA axis stress response.
Understanding the Brain
The frontal lobes are located in the cortex and are responsible for learning and problem solving. The cerebral cortex is the thinking or strategy center of the brain, where logic and judgment reside. In addition to being rational, the cortex also has many other complex functions including memory, attention, perceptual awareness, language, and consciousness. “The ability to learn from experience requires events to be registered in the prefrontal cortex, compared with other experiences, and then evaluated for an appropriate response.” (ASCA). Early childhood trauma has also been associated with a reduced size of the brain cortex, meaning the amygdala of the brain will spot triggers and cause a person to automatically react before having a logical thought process. The reduced cortex size may affect IQ and the ability to regulate emotions.
Within the limbic system, also known as the emotional center of the brain is the amygdala; which is responsible for activating the fight or flight reactions and determining whether information received should go to the limbic system or the cortex. The amygdala is the watchdog of the brain. It uses the majority of its neurons to look for negative events and delegate a response to prepare the body for threats. It holds more power than the cortex so if incoming data triggers enough of an emotional charge, the amygdala can bypass the normal rational pathway and send the data to the limbic system. The limbic system performs an emotional analysis and memory review of the information received and determines whether the current stressor is one that has been mastered in the past and successfully adapted to, not a threat at all, or a clear and present danger. All of this internal activity occurs in milliseconds. (Stoppler).
The amygdala has receptors which regulate fear memory consolidation meaning once the amygdala sounds its alarm, negative events and experiences quickly get stored in the memory as a “trigger,” or reinforce past triggers that have been saved. “It stores all the details surrounding the threat or danger including: the sights, sounds, odors, time of day, weather, etc.” (Towey). Later, these sights, sounds, and other details of the event can become stimuli and may trigger fear. A person who has experienced a frightening event during a thunderstorm may again feel fearful or anxious during a thunderstorm, without consciously understanding why, but it may be because an event has been stored as a trigger. Since these cues were associated with previous danger, the brain may see them as a predictor of new threats making one react on impulse.
The hippocampus assists in the transfer of information to the cortex. The hippocampus is vulnerable to stress hormones, in particular the hormones released by the amygdala. “When those hormones reach a high level, they suppress the activity of the hippocampus and it loses its ability to function.” (ASCA). Due to stress, the body is not able to process triggers as one that has been adapted to successfully, vital information never reaches the cortex, and thus logical thinking is blocked.
Adult Survivors of Traumatic Events
Does the psychological effects from traumatic events one suffered as a child follow them into adulthood? According to MacDonald, long term effects may appear a few months later, or take years to emerge, depending on when one has a “trigger.” Children develop their own distinctive style of protecting themselves, and during the time it may have worked for them. When people experience a trigger, the way the adult has learned to emotionally protect themselves is challenged, and that person is tempted to return to childhood thought patterns about safety. If a person had a nurturing, fearless childhood, this revisiting might only mean that they seek out family and friends to receive comfort; however, if someone has had an abusive childhood or experienced a traumatic event, the return to childhood ways of protection might mean following a coping style that is not beneficial to their being. One of the most damaging effects of experiencing terror is the relapse to the way the adult protected themselves as a child.
“Children are often viewed as highly resilient and able to bounce back from just about any situation; however, traumatic experiences in childhood can have severe and long-lasting effects well into adulthood if they are left unresolved.” (NCTSN). “Research shows that children and adults with histories of child abuse often respond excessively to minor triggers. Traumatised children and adult survivors become increasingly responsive to relatively minor stimuli due to decreased frontal lobe functioning and increased amygdala sensitivity or impulsiveness.” (ASCA). The amygdala has the ability to have emotions processed before the cortex has the chance to be rational. When a person is faced with significant perceived threats while adaptive, is often perceived by others as overreacting, unresponsive or detached. (ASCA). “When controlling for subjects who engage in high-risk activities like smoking, drinking, and overeating, childhood trauma produces the same increased risk for everyone. Across the board, for example, respondents had a 360% increase in risk for heart disease.” (Rosenthal). Adaptation to trauma, especially early in life, becomes a “state of mind, brain, and body” around a later experience. (ASCA). Once a person understands why things are happening, they are able to learn how to fix, or better control the problem. Patients must be willing to learn how.
Understanding the Nervous System
The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, sensory organs, and all of the nerves that connect these organs with the rest of the body. It is responsible for coordinating all of the body’s activities. Together, these organs are responsible for the control of the body and communication among its parts including maintenance of normal functions and the body’s ability to cope with emergency situations. The brain and spinal cord form the control center known as the central nervous system (CNS), where information is evaluated through any of the body’s senses including: sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. It can also evaluate information through the stomach. After evaluation, decisions made from information that is gathered from inside and the outside the body’s environment. Motor nerves in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) carry information, negative or positive, from the control center to the muscles, glands, and organs and update their functions accordingly. (Taylor).
The Autonomic Nervous System
A part of the nervous system that regulates vital involuntary functions of the body is the activity of the heart muscle, the muscles of the intestinal tract, and the glands. The autonomic nervous system has two divisions: the sympathetic nervous system, which accelerates the heart rate, constricts blood vessels, and raises blood pressure, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles.” (MedicineNet.com). The sympathetic nervous system is the physical effects of the fight or flight response. The parasympathetic system calms the body down and brings it back to its normal function once the threat is over.
The Central Nervous System
“The central nervous system (CNS) is the processing center for the nervous system.”
(Bailey). “The brain is the center of one’s thoughts, perceptions, and emotions. It is the interpreter of our external environment, and the origin of control over body movement. (Reeve). All thoughts that flow through the mind, every action and emotion experienced in the world flows through the CNS. When triggered, the central nervous system initiates a system of physical reactions, which interprets and communicates experiences, thoughts, feelings and movements to the rest of the body, via a network of organs, cells and neurons. The magnitude and duration of the stressor is significant because when any trigger exceeds a certain magnitude it activates the central nervous system’s adaptive response. (Macdonald). When there is no threat, the body systems function as it ought to; however, when those thought or emotional patterns produce negative emotions, other systems of the body are activated to physically prepare the body for a possible threat. This threat causes the body to work harder to stay alert.
Have you ever thought “today will be a great day” and you just feel great? Have you ever thought you were a failure after you lost your job and just felt crappy?
Understanding the Effects of Inflamed Thinking
Do not underestimate the power of thoughts. Thoughts can affect a person in many different ways. Thoughts help create the reality experienced, whether that experience is good or bad, all of it is determined by thoughts. Thoughts can create emotional states, and emotions create physical states, which affects health; negatively or positively. Thoughts even influence what one does and says to others. No matter what the situation or circumstances, every action that is made stems from thought. Thoughts triggers emotions, which turn into actions, and finally results. (Psitek). “Thoughts and feelings that generate within the mind can influence the outpouring of hormones from the endocrine system. The hormones released in response controls much of what transpires within the body.” (MacDonald). Everyone experiences having a magnitude of things on their mind, but the type of thoughts or feelings that are being produced comes with effects. People have a distorted view of the world when the mind is in a negative state. It becomes a cycle where negative thoughts reinforce negative emotions, which in turn produces negative actions and results.
The Role of Rumination
Rumination is defined as a repetitive, unwanted, past-centered, negative thought process. These thoughts have components of emotional upset, anger, and depression. Rumination is distinct from worry, as it is past-oriented, while worry is considered to be future-centric.
(Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). Rumination can be viewed as a response-style, so if presented with a stressful experience, people may tend to ruminate about it, as opposed to engaging in another coping style such as distracting themselves from the stressor. Ruminating can damage the neural structures that regulate emotions, memory, and feelings. (ASCA). It is considered a maladaptive response to stress, as it has been related to many negative psychological outcomes. It has often been shown that women ruminate more than men and it also plays a factor in adrenal fatigue. (Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). Rumination increases cortisol in the body, and is related to improper HPA axis stress responses. The more that a person’s thought patterns are focused on the negative and slip into rumination; the easier it becomes to return to those negative thought patterns. This leads to negative thoughts and emotions to eventually take over the body. (ASCA).
What has triggered this inflamed thinking for that person? It is easy to let thoughts slip into rumination, but it causes stress. Depending on how a person copes with their triggers, can also determine how the rest of the body may be affected. According to FractalEnlighment, thoughts and feelings are linked to specific parts of the body and different illnesses; such as fear to the kidney. Constantly sending negative emotions and thoughts disrupts the body’s natural energy flow. (2). According to Viana, in order to avoid a negative spin, patients must recognize the triggers that set off the cycle and the environments that make them more susceptible to those triggers. A negative state of mind is not caused by a single emotion; it is the build-up of triggers, or past events, that distort reality. Enough stress with these triggers and it can lead to or exacerbate disease. (1).
Understanding the Conscious Mind
The conscious mind is the objective or thinking mind. It has no memory, and it can only hold one thought at a time. The mind has four essential functions. First, it identifies incoming information. This is information received through any of the six senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, or feeling. The conscious mind is continually observing and categorizing what is going on around a person. The second function of the conscious mind is comparison. There, the information is compared with all of one’s previously stored information and experiences. Is this new information received? Is it something that has been mastered in the past and successfully adapted to? The third function of the conscious mind is analysis, is this a threat? The fourth function, deciding. What would be the best solution to this problem?
The conscious mind performs two functions: It accepts or rejects data in making choices and decisions. (Tracy). A person is walking across the street, hears the roar of the moving vehicle. The person turns and sees the vehicle is bearing down on them. Their knowledge about the speed of moving vehicles is compared with incoming information lets them know they may be in danger. The first question the mind evaluates is, “Do I get out of the way? Yes or no?” If the decision is “yes,” then the next is, “Do I jump forward? Yes or no?” If the decision is “no,” because of cross traffic, then the next question is, “Do I jump backward? Yes or no?” If the decision is “yes,” this message is instantly transmitted to the subconscious mind and in a split second. The whole body jumps back out of the way, with no additional thought or decision on the person’s part. (Tracy).
Understanding the Subconscious Mind
Think of the subconscious mind as a tape recorder, it only listens and records. It is subjective, it does not judge, and has no logic. It does not think or reason independently; it merely obeys the commands it receives from the conscious mind. The subconscious mind permanently stores all of one’s previous life experiences, beliefs, memories, skills, all situations experienced and all images ever seen. Its capacity is virtually unlimited. The information stored consists of accessible information once attention is directed to it, such as remembering a phone number that is frequently used. (Tonner) “The subconscious mind is responsible for the automatically triggered feelings and emotions that one suddenly experiences upon facing a new situation. (Radwan).
As mentioned, the subconscious mind only listens, so if a person is constantly saying or thinking “no one loves me,” that information is recorded, and eventually those emotions and selfseeking behaviors will be sent. The person will begin to have an emotional experience I.e.: depression, sadness. Those emotions turn to behaviors such as seeking a spouse that will reinforce that belief. When a person feels under the weather, the body is communicating that the current thought process is out of sync with what is beneficial one’s well-being.
Understanding the Unconscious mind
The unconscious mind processes all of the information that is received, drives 95% of one’s beliefs and behaviors, and selects what one consciously recognizes, reacts to, and processes. (Onner). During childhood, there is a countless number of memories and experiences acquired that forms who a person is today, although this information is not easily accessible. Behaviors may indicate unconscious forces that drive them including beliefs, patterns, and subjective maps of reality. (Staroversky).
Stress is the state of mental tension. The psychology definition of stress is the process by which one perceives and responds to certain events, or stressors which are viewed as challenging. Stressors are triggers which can be physically, emotionally, or spiritually harmful. (Macdonald). Over 110 million people die every year as a direct result of stress, which is definitely preventable. Stress is not an emotion; it is a reaction to stimulus perceived as disturbing or disrupting. The common factor in anxiety, headaches; cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, depression, fears, and irritable bowel etc. is stress exacerbates the condition. The amygdala is immune to the effects of stress hormones, so it may continue to sound an “alarm” inappropriately leading to a chronic state of inflammation and lower immunity.
According to WebMD the signs or symptoms of stress include:
Emotional symptoms of stress include:
• Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
• Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
• Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
• Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed Avoiding others
Physical symptoms of stress include:
• Low energy
• Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
• Aches, pains, and tense muscles
• Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
• Frequent colds and infections
• Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
• Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet
• Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
• Clenched jaw and grinding teeth
Cognitive symptoms of stress include:
• Constant worrying
• Racing thoughts
• Forgetfulness and disorganization
• Inability to focus
• Poor judgment
• Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side
Behavioral symptoms of stress include:
• Changes in appetite — either not eating or eating too much
• Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
• Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
• Exhibiting more nervous behaviors, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing
Many individuals do not consider themselves to be stressed at all. You may say how can a person not know they are stressed? According to The Richmond Hypnosis Center, people become accustomed to having unresolved internal problems. (1). It is easy to tell someone to stop stressing, but how do they stop stressing if they never knew they were stressed to begin with? According to Medicine.net, A key aspect of a healthy response to stress is the time course. Responses must be initiated rapidly, maintained for a proper amount of time, and then turned off to ensure an optimal result. An over-response to stress or the failure to shut off a stress response can have negative biological and mental-health consequences for an individual.
Understanding Childhood Stress
“Research about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) proves that enormous childhood stress absolutely leads to an increased potential for adult illness and disease. A study proved that childhood adversity can create an early process of inflammation that’s been proven to shorten a lifespan by almost 20 years. We learned that traumatic childhood experiences represent significant risk factors in adulthood for autoimmune disease, such as lupus and multiple sclerosis.”(Rosenthal).
“The ability to deal with stress is controlled by a set of interrelated brain circuits and hormone systems that are specifically designed to respond adaptively to environmental challenges. The neural circuits for dealing with stress are particularly “plastic” during the fetal and early childhood periods.” (The Developing Child). Early experiences shape how readily these circuits are activated and how well they can be contained and turned off. Toxic stress during this early period can affect developing brain circuits and hormonal systems in a way that leads to poorly controlled stress response systems that will be overly reactive or slow to shut down when faced with threats throughout the lifespan.” (The Developing Child). When a child grows up afraid or under constant or extreme stress, the immune system and body’s stress response systems may suppress due to heightened stress. This means because chronic stress gives the illusion that the body is under extreme danger, and because of this extra energy being used, and alarms sounding off, the body’s systems become overworked making a person feel more fatigued.
The traumatic event breeds stress if the event and emotional needs are not addressed and released. “Emotions will not deny the right to be felt.”(NCTSN). Some common behavioral,
physical, and/or emotional signs of stress children may display include:
• Chest pain
• Rapid heartbeat
• Social isolation
• Emotional outbursts
• Trouble concentrating
• Change in regular sleep and eating habits
• Change in emotions (showing signs of being sad, clingy, withdrawn, or angry)
• Increase in crying or tantrums
• Change in bowel movements
Some of these physical signs will occur even if the child has been deemed a clean bill of health by their physician. (NCTSN).
Understanding the Stress Response Systems
The stress response is activated when the amygdala perceives a threat alerting the hypothalamus of the brain to delegate the stress response. “This region of the brain is responsible for maintaining the balance between stress and relaxation in your body.” (Clark). The hypothalamus will send signals to two main systems involved in the stress response: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for triggering the response directed towards the “fight or flight” reaction. The HPA axis is the body’s energy regulator, and modulates the immune and digestive system in addition to being responsible for regulating many other systems and hormones.
All types of stress, whether psychological, physical or emotional, result in similar activation of the HPA axis. Other regions of the brain feed into the hypothalamus and can either increase or decrease HPA axis activation, including the prefrontal cortex, and the amygdala. The ultimate result of the HPA axis activation is to increase levels of cortisol in the blood during times of stress. The stress response of the HPA axis is closely related to fear expression and fear regulation. The number of traumas a person has experienced also has implications on fear expression. In a study of PTSD patients who had multiple traumas, it was found that the participants did not present an increased fear expression. (Ncbi.nlm.gov) A reduced or dysfunctional HPA axis activation will result in abnormal immune system activation, increased inflammation, allergic reactions, IBS symptoms such as constipation and diarrhea, as well as a reduced tolerance to fatigue, physical, and mental stresses. (MBH.NET).
With any kind of stress: physical, emotional, or spiritual, the body tells the brain “something is not right” and the adrenal glands respond by producing chemical hormones to help the body cope with the stressor. (Caldwell). Even when stress and worry is completely hypothetical and not based on any real or current situation, the amygdala and the thalamus are not able to differentiate this hypothetical stress from the kind that actually needs to be listened to. (Toohill). A state of non-hyper-arousal is needed for the prefrontal cortex to use logical skills for learning and problem solving. (blueknot.org.au).
Once the ‘threat’ is over the body is brought back to a balanced state with a reverse chain of events. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for relaxing the body once the stress has been removed from the situation. No ill effects are experienced from the short-term response to stress. (MacDonald).
Acute Stress is an immediate physical reaction to something in the world and can be negative or positive in nature (Surgery, Accidents, Arguments, Marriage, Birth of a baby, a job promotion). Adrenaline, norepinephrine, and epinephrine are produced in response to acute stress and together make up the fight or flight response. (MacDonald)
In response to a stimulus, the adrenal glands secrete adrenaline, epinephrine in large amounts, and norepinephrine in smaller amounts. The adrenals produce adrenaline commonly known as the fight or flight hormone, notice that a stressful situation has presented itself. (hormone.org). Fear has been proven to lead to anxiety, and anxiety is regulated by adrenaline, which is only increased during times of acute stress. Adrenaline combined with epinephrine is what causes the immediate effects a person feels when dealing with acute stress. It causes the SNS to operate by increasing the heart rate, and blood pressure. It moves blood flow from areas that may not contribute to fighting or fleeing danger, such as from the digestion system and moves it to the muscles. “Strong emotions such as fear or anger cause epinephrine to be released into the bloodstream. (University of Delaware). This chemical reaction also temporarily increases the amount of energy released to help fight or flee the danger. (Heart.org). The primary role of norepinephrine, like adrenaline, is arousal. When one is stressed, they become more aware, awake, and focused making them more responsive. (Klein).
Understanding Chronic Stress
The HPA system is activated to regulate stress when it becomes prolonged or unrelenting. When stress is chronic, the adrenal glands release cortisol. Cortisol responds to long-term constant stressors by keeping the body alert; however, the chronic response can have many harmful effects on many body systems. According to MacDonald, chronic stress is a persistent physical reaction to something constant in life and may relate to work, finances, family problems, abuse, disease, physical pain, diet, and/or smoking. (1).
Frequent or sustained activation of brain systems that respond to stress can lead to heightened vulnerability to a range of behavioral and physiological disorders affecting mental health. (Young). Stress places a higher demand on the body to meet the energy demands, but at a price. The body’s defenses are weakened, leaving it open to infection, and many other systems are affected.
Living under constant threats compromises the immune system and may likely cause physical ailments and impair fertility. (Towey). Ongoing stress makes a person more susceptible to illness and disease because the brain sends defense signals to the endocrine system. The endocrine system influences almost every cell, organ, and function of the body. (Goliszek). According to KidsHealth.org, the endocrine system is a collection of glands that plays a role in regulating mood, sleep, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism, sexual function, immunity, homeostasis, and reproductive processes. (1). It is made up of the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands, pancreas, ovaries, and testicles. (Zimmermann). Once those defense signals are sent, the endocrine system then releases an array of hormones that severely depresses immunity. (Goliszek).
Long Term Effects of Cortisol
Cortisol is a corticosteroid hormone that helps control the body’s use of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, which is the body’s energy supply. Cortisol’s main role is in releasing glucose into the bloodstream for energy. It has similar effects of adrenaline in the body, but remains in blood for a longer period of time. Increased levels are beneficial when used for a short period of time as they help the body cope. The main goal during increased levels is an immediate energy supply with strength to endure, a desensitization to pain, and improvement in memory function.
Cortisol has an anti-inflammatory effect that helps to modulate the immune system, digestive system and reproductive system. Any stress lasting longer than a few minutes’ results in increased levels of cortisol into the body. The liver normally monitors the release of the corticosteroids such as cortisol; however, when a person is chronically stressed, the liver is bypassed, and the corticoids are able to run free through the body. (Bryant). Excess cortisol in the body leads to lower immunity, can cause mental changes, including depression, and psychosis, which disappear when the levels return to normal. (Stoppler).
Excess or fluctuating levels of cortisol affect the rate at which the body produces serotonin. Neurotransmitters like serotonin, adrenaline, noradrenaline, endorphins and dopamine affect mood. A deficit in serotonin leads to depression and overthinking. Conversely, a lack in levels of cortisol or other steroid hormones released by the adrenals allows the immune system to over-react to pathogens. This can lead to chronic inflammation, organ damage or failure, and a number of respiratory or auto-immune diseases. (Adrenalfatiguesolution.com).
In response to chronic stress, the increase in cortisol produces the following physical effects:
• Slow down digestion, which relates to weight loss or weight gain.
• Increase the blood sugar level and/or blood pressure
• Suppression of different types of memory
• Reduces the inflammatory response
• May increase susceptibility to physical irritations and infections
• Dilate the pupils causing a strain on the heart
• Weakens the immune system by deactivating white blood cells
• Decrease libido
• Produce acne
This weakened state can last for the duration of whatever is causing the stress.
Understanding Adrenal fatigue
“Adrenal glands, are small, triangular glands located on top of both kidneys. An adrenal gland is made of two parts: the outer region is called the adrenal cortex and the inner region is called the adrenal medulla. (Sargis). In response to stress, the hypothalamus stimulates the adrenal glands to produce and release adrenaline and corticosteroid hormones into the blood such as cortisol. Over the course of chronic stress the adrenal glands can become overused and tired from the overproduction which causes adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue is a very common condition that women experience and it directly effects energy levels and the body’s ability to heal; however, it is a treatable condition. (Caldwell). One of the symptoms of lupus patients is extreme fatigue. No matter how much one sleeps and rests it feels as if there is no recovery. “You’re fighting an uphill battle because your body doesn’t have the energy it needs to function and heal efficiently.” (Caldwell). This may be caused by chronic stress which is the number one cause of adrenal fatigue. This includes emotional, physical, and spiritual stress. One of the most overlooked are spiritual stressors such as: not loving yourself fully, being critical of yourself, allowing thoughts to ruminate, and the pursuit of perfection all cause chronic long-term stress. Unresolved emotional pain such as anger, grief, shame or loneliness, also take a toll. (Caldwell).
With constant levels of stress, cortisol levels will remain elevated for extended periods of time, making it difficult for the body to return to a state of rest where energy is restored and the body can heal. (Caldwell). “In the early stages of adrenal fatigue, consistently high levels of cortisol suppresses the immune response and leaves one vulnerable to infection. In the later stages of adrenal fatigue, low levels of cortisol can lead to chronic inflammation, allergies and autoimmune diseases.” (Lam). When the adrenals become unable to produce enough of the hormones that are needed is when fatigue, or that drained energy feeling comes into play. This means that levels of cortisol, along with neurotransmitters like adrenaline and norepinephrine, are lower than they should be.
Common Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue:
• Chronic fatigue that is not relieved by rest.
• Sleep disturbances such as insomnia, or trouble falling or staying asleep.
• Memory or cognition issues like brain fog, feeling spacey, or trouble concentrating.
• Mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, feelings of overwhelm or crying more easily.
• Hormonal imbalances or changes such as worsening PMS, changes in menstruation or irregular cycles.
• Thyroid disorders or symptoms like hypothyroidism, cold or heat intolerance, or dry skin and hair.
• Metabolic disorders or weight issues like excess belly fat, and high or low blood sugar issues.
• Craving salt, sugar or caffeine to help “boost” your energy throughout the day.
• Low blood pressure symptoms like feeling dizzy or woozy if you stand up too quickly. (Caldwell).
• Asthma, allergies or respiratory complaints
• Dark circles under the eyes
• Dry skin
• Extreme tiredness an hour after exercise
• Frequent urination
• Joint pain
• Lines in your fingertips
• Loss of muscle tone
• Low blood pressure
• Low blood sugar
• Low sex drive
• Lower back pain
• Numbness in your fingers / Poor circulation
• Weight gain (AdrenalFatigueSolution)
What is inflammation? According to WebMd, inflammation is a process by which the body’s white blood cells and substances they produce protect the body from getting infected with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. Simply put, the body is fighting an infection. Inflammation is the primary cause of all chronic, degenerative diseases such as; fibromyalgia, allergies, arthritis, asthma, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, lupus, chronic fatigue, and a host of others. Inflammation causes a strong response from the immune system to attack pathogens that cause injury and physical illness. (MacDonald). It may also be associated with general flu-like symptoms including: fever, chills, fatigue, loss of energy, headaches, loss of appetite, and muscle stiffness. These flu-like symptoms are also symptoms of lupus. According to WebMD, the most common symptoms of inflammation include:
• Swollen joint that is sometimes warm to the touch
• Joint pain
• Joint stiffness
• Loss of joint function
Often, only a few of the aforementioned symptoms are present.
Understanding the Immune System
The immune system is the body’s form of defense. It is comprised of organs, tissues, and cell products that all work together to fight harmful substances such as pathogens that cause infection and disease. The ability to fight off illness and disease depends on several factors, but the way one reacts to stress and the health of the immune system are things that can be influenced. The brain and the immune system are in constant communication. The balance between the two is very delicate, but can be disrupted by any kind of stress. (Bryant). “The psychosocial state of a person can have direct impacts on the immune system.” (Mayoclinic). According to Hansen, there are two main ways that
stress has a direct, negative effect on the immune system including:
• It creates chronic inflammatory conditions
• It lowers the immunity of those who otherwise might have a healthy immune system.
With prolonged stress, the body may develop a resistance to cortisol, and does not respond to it properly if it is present in the blood for long periods. Instead, it ramps up a production of substances that actually promote inflammation leading to a state of chronic inflammation. (Hansen). The white blood cells, or leukocytes, which are the main fighter cells of the immune defense system, are made up of classes including: natural (NK) killer, lymphocytes, monocytes, and granulocytes. Each type of cell has its own functions.
Natural Killer (NK) cells are just as the name suggests, and part of the first line of defense against virus infected and cancer cells. (MedicineNet.com). According to mind-body-health.net, it is known that stress can suppress the immune system, through the action of adrenaline and cortisol, recent research shows the HPA axis can actually have a positive effect on the immune system, reversing the effects of cortisol and increasing the killing ability of natural killer (NK) cells. (1).Lymphocytes are cells that help regulate the body’s immune system and is subdivided into B-cells, T-cells, and natural killer cells. B-cells are responsible for the production and secretion of antibodies that help identify and fight infections in the body. T-cells are responsible for making close and direct contact with the antigen. (Mayoclinic). When a person experiences prolonged stress, the body needs those T-cells and white blood cells, and unfortunately cortisol continues to suppress them, thus weakening the immune system over time. (Calmclinic). In a healthy immune system, white blood cells gather at an infected or injured site in the body and produce substances that help fight off the infection. In a person with lupus, both B-cells and Tcells can become overactive. The two main consequences of this altered white blood cell activity are the production of autoantibodies and inflammation. (Petri MD). Monocytes mark cells that need to be destroyed by lymphocytes, and are able to consume, or munch, on harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses. Then enzymes in the monocyte’s body kill and break down the germs into pieces. (Study.com) Granulocytes are able to ingest foreign parasites. During stress, the release of cortisol causes a shift from a cell based immunity to an antibody response. This shift to the antibody response results in a poorer ability to fight viral infections, and increased susceptibility to allergies. (MBH.net).
Autoantibodies are antibodies, or proteins the body produces to fight off infections and other invaders. These antibodies destroy the body’s own cells. With a lupus immune system, the antibodies are produced at a very fast rate and attack the body’s healthy tissue erroneously which may be due to chronic stress. Autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body. Types of autoantibodies include:
• Antinuclear antibodies (ANA) – About 98 percent of people with lupus possess antinuclear antibodies which can attack critical parts of cells.
• Antiphospholipid antibodies- These can also damage important components of cells and can also cause pregnancy complications, stroke, heart attacks, and other blood clots.
Can these autoantibodies be the result of one’s “trigger” and poor coping habits? “Inhibition of emotions could be another stress factor negatively affecting health. Bottling up negative emotions seems to tie up resources of the immune system.” (Beaton). Going back to understanding lupus, autoimmune, again means the immune system cannot tell the difference between an invader they should attack, and the healthy tissues to leave alone. Could the immune system be attacking healthy tissue due to the chain of events from one’s unresolved emotional pain and stress? The body was not designed to operate continuously in a hyper-arousal mode. In the case of Jamie, her body was trying to tell her that how she dealt with fear was not beneficial to her well-being. Her continued fear and hyper arousal came with negative consequences.
If the statistics of lupus are tied with this theory, generally boys externalize the effects of trauma, while girls internalize them. Women are also more prone to rumination which hold components of upset, anger, and depression. Women are more prone to being diagnosed with lupus and depression than men. Internalizing the effects of trauma leads to depression, and depression in turn lowers the immune system functionality. The races of these women with a higher chance of being diagnosed with lupus tend to have a higher chance of growing up in a home where children may be exposed to emotional trauma and/or have lower income levels. The age range may depend on how a person copes with fear once it has been triggered again. “Our emotional states can lead to physical ailments, possibly indicating that we are going through a difficult time in which negative thoughts and emotions have taken control. Feelings of sadness can greatly influence our energy levels and motivation. Sadness causes fatigue, excessive tiredness, and low energy.” (steptohealth). Severe fatigue, excessive tiredness, and low energy are all symptoms as lupus and adrenal fatigue as well. “Excessive negative emotions, like calories, build up over time. You may be able to burn some of them off, but after a while, they build up to a point where you’re feeling sluggish, low energy, and disconnected.” (Kennedy). Harvesting ill feelings come at a cost, and may result in disease if left unacknowledged. A traumatic event, leaves room for unacknowledged emotions and increases the chances of a person reliving the event as well as chronic stress. Fear takes over thoughts and emotions and may lead to stressing. Stress suppresses functions and body systems that are actually needed, leading to lower immunity and susceptibility to other possible complications or illnesses. Cortisol in the blood has many effects, and leads to infections and disease. The impact of fear directly affects the kidney which is typically the organ affected most by lupus patients. Lupus stems from “fear” along with many other factors.
Emotions are no more than messages sent by the subconscious mind in order to notify a person about something. When one falls ill, the body is saying “pay attention.” It is vital to understand subconscious communication to the conscious mind. Why is clinical psychology overlooked instead of being as big and promoted as going to see a primary care physician? A person must be mindful of the type of thoughts that are put into the heart, and fill the mind.
There is a difference health wise with tweaking one’s perspective. I.e.: “Nobody loves me,” to “I am a loveable person.” I believe there is no physical ailment without a mental or emotional disruption first. I am not proposing if a person needs to deliver a baby, or breaks a bone a clinical psychologist can heal them. I am stating medical doctors and health psychologists need to be a closer team to heal the body in whole.
Health psychology principles and cognitive behavioral therapies continue to be overlooked by the general population and the medical profession. These methods require the physician to be aware of other successful treatment regimens. Health psychology requires individuals to make a commitment to take responsibility for their own physical and emotional health. Until health psychology principles are accepted by the medical community and until the client begins to follow these principles, the emotional and physical condition will continue to ravage the mind and body. (MacDonald).
In conclusion, medical doctors treat diseases and the symptoms of the disease; I want to tackle why we have diseases and how we can be more educated to keep ourselves healthy. The emotional development and ability to cope with stress is vital factor in ones being, and it is never too late to learn how to heal the body and mind. Patients must learn how to manage stress, how to cope, understand their triggers, and overcome them. It is a proven fact that a person is able to be perfectly healthy with high levels of stress, if one understands the mind-body connection and knows how to manage it effectively. I want to help people understand how their thoughts and emotions affect their health, and how to manage it. When Jamie was in the hospital, although mainly intended to treat an immediate medical condition, was not assessed mentally or emotionally. Jamie unknowingly made herself suffer for years; simply because she had no idea she was stressing.
Since having so many family members with medical conditions, I have always been determined to help people and find out just how the body works. In researching, if this theory proves true, unresolved emotional pain, and coping methods may be the start of many diseases, the possibilities for other diseases are endless. I have explored possibilities for many different diseases and medical conditions, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, dementia etc., and they all follow this theory. Medicine is man-made. Although medication has evolved, and helped tremendously over the years, if there is no proof that an environmental or chemical imbalance set off the immune system decline was the initial problem, why has society become so accustomed to believe medication will fix the problem?
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and selfdiscipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT
Adrenal gland – The adrenal glands (also known as suprarenal glands) are endocrine glands that produce a variety of hormones. They are found above the kidneys. Each gland has an outer cortex and an inner medulla. The hormones they secrete aid in cell metabolism, adjust the water balance, and increase cardiovascular and respiratory activity.
Adrenaline – a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, especially in conditions of stress. It increases rates of blood circulation, breathing, and carbohydrate metabolism and prepares muscles for exertion. Adrenaline is produced in the medulla of the adrenal glands within a couple of minutes during a stressful situation, adrenaline is quickly released into the blood to trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response.
Amygdala – The amygdala is a section of the brain that is responsible for detecting fear and preparing for emergency events.
Antibodies – a blood protein produced in response to a counteracting a specific antigen.
Antigen – a toxin or other foreign substance that induces an immune response in the body, especially the production of antibodies.
Anxiety – An emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.
Autoantibodies – an antibody produced by an organism in response to a constituent of its own tissues.
Autoimmune – of or relating to disease caused by antibodies or lymphocytes produced against substances naturally present in the body.
Adrenal cortex – The adrenal cortex secretes hormones that have an effect on the body’s metabolism, on chemicals in the blood, and on certain body characteristics. The adrenal cortex secretes corticosteroids and other hormones directly into the bloodstream.
Adrenal medulla: Inner layer of the adrenal glands, which secretes epinephrine and norepinephrine.
Adrenocorticotropic hormone: Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulates the adrenal cortex to secrete cortisol and other hormones. During any stressful situation such as injury, low blood sugar levels, and exercise.
Aldosterone: Aldosterone, another steroid hormone secreted by the adrenal cortex, targets the kidney cells that regulate the formation of urine. A decrease in blood pressure or volume, a decrease in the sodium (salt) level in blood, and an increase in the potassium level in blood all stimulate the secretion of aldosterone. Once released, aldosterone spurs the kidney cells to reabsorb sodium from the urine and to excrete potassium instead. Sodium is then returned to the bloodstream. When sodium is reabsorbed into the blood, water in the body follows it, thus increasing blood volume and pressure. Aldosterone also reduces the amount of sodium and water lost through the sweat and salivary glands. When normal blood, sodium, and potassium levels are all reached, the adrenal cortex stops releasing aldosterone
B-cells – a lymphocyte not processed by the thymus gland, and responsible for producing antibodies.
Chronic – (of an illness) persisting for a long time or constantly recurring.
Central Nervous System – the complex of nerve tissues that controls the activities of the body. In vertebrates it comprises the brain and spinal cord.
Cortex – the outer layer of the cerebrum (the cerebral cortex), composed of folded gray matter and playing an important role in consciousness.
Corticosteroids or corticoids are any of a group of steroid hormones produced in the adrenal cortex or made synthetically. There are two kinds: glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. They have various metabolic functions and some are used to treat inflammation.
Cortisol is another name for hydrocortisone. Steroid hormone secreted by the adrenal cortex that promotes the body’s efficient use of nutrients during stressful situations. In times of physical stress (injury, exercise, anger, fear) cortisol is secreted. Cortisol stimulates most body cells to increase their energy production. Unlike insulin, cortisol causes the cells to increase energy output by using fats and amino acids (proteins) instead of glucose. In stressful situations, this is extremely important because glucose is conserved for use by the brain (glucose is the sole source of energy for neurons or cells in nervous tissue). Cortisol also has an anti-inflammatory effect, suppressing the activities of white blood cells and other components in the body’s defense line.
Emotion – a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others
Emotional trauma – Psychological or emotional trauma, is damage or injury to the psyche after living through an extremely frightening or distressing event and may result in challenges in functioning or coping normally after the event.
Endocrine system – The main functions of the endocrine system and its hormone messengers are to maintain homeostasis (a stable internal environment in the body) and to promote permanent structural changes. It is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood, among other things.
Epinephrine – Also called adrenaline, a hormone secreted by the adrenal medulla that stimulates
the body to react to stressful situations by increasing the heart rate and force of heart contractions, facilitates blood flow to the muscles and brain, causes relaxation of smooth muscles, helps with conversion of glycogen to glucose in the liver, and other activities.
Flight or fight response also known as the acute stress response, refers to a physiological reaction that occurs in the presence of something that is terrifying, either mentally or physically. The response is triggered by the release of hormones that prepare the body to either stay or deal with a threat or to run away to safety.
Frontal lobes – each of the paired lobes of the brain lying immediately behind the forehead, including areas concerned with behavior, learning, personality, and voluntary movement
Granulocytes – a white blood cell with secretory granules in its cytoplasm, e.g., an eosinophil or a basophil.
Glucocorticoids – any of a group of corticosteroids (e.g., hydrocortisone) that are involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and have anti-inflammatory activity.
Habituation – The diminishing of a physiological or emotional response to a frequently repeated stimulus.
Hippocampus – The hippocampus is a part of the limbic system. The limbic system is the area in the brain that is associated with memory, emotions, and motivation. The hippocampus itself is highly involved with memories.
Hypothalamus – The hypothalamus is not a gland, but a small region of the brain containing many control centers for body functions and emotions. It thus plays an important role in the actions of other endocrine glands, especially the pituitary.
Immune system – The immune system is the body’s defense against infectious organisms and other invaders. Through a series of steps called the immune response, the immune system attacks organisms and substances that invade our systems and cause disease.
Inflammation – a localized physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection
Limbic system – a complex system of nerves and networks in the brain, involving several areas near the edge of the cortex concerned with instinct and mood. It controls the basic emotions (fear, pleasure, anger) and drives (hunger, sex, dominance, care of offspring).
Lymphocytes – a form of small leukocyte (white blood cell) with a single round nucleus, occurring especially in the lymphatic system.
Macrophages – a large phagocytic cell found in stationary form in the tissues or as a mobile white blood cell, especially at sites of infection.
Monocytes – a large phagocytic white blood cell with a simple oval nucleus and clear, grayish cytoplasm.
Nervous system – the network of nerve cells and fibers that transmits nerve impulses between parts of the body.
Natural killer cells – A cell that can react against and destroy another cell without prior sensitization to it. NK cells are part of our first line of defense against cancer cells and virusinfected cells. NK cells are small lymphocytes that originate in the bone marrow and develop without the influence of the thymus.
Norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline). This hormone causes blood vessels in the skin and skeletal muscles to constrict, raising blood pressure.
Parasympathetic Nervous System – The part of the involuntary nervous system that serves to slow the heart rate, increase intestinal and glandular activity, and relax the sphincter muscles. The parasympathetic nervous system, together with the sympathetic nervous system, constitutes the autonomic nervous system.
Pathogens – a bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease.
Protein – any of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds that consist of large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids and are an essential part of all living organisms, especially as structural components of body tissues such as muscle, hair, collagen, etc., and as enzymes and antibodies.
Psychological trauma – Psychological, or emotional trauma, is damage or injury to the psyche after living through an extremely frightening or distressing event and may result in challenges in functioning or coping normally after the event.
Ruminate – think deeply about something.
Serotonin – a compound present in blood platelets and serum that constricts the blood vessels and acts as a neurotransmitter. Or a chemical that is responsible for maintaining mood balance, and that a deficit of serotonin leads to depression.
Sympathetic nervous system – The part of the autonomic nervous system originating in the thoracic and lumbar regions of the spinal cord that in general inhibits or opposes the physiological effects of the parasympathetic nervous system, as in tending to reduce digestive secretions or speed up the heart.
Thalamus – The thalamus is a structure in the middle of the brain. It is located between the cerebral cortex and the midbrain. It works to correlate several important processes, including consciousness, sleep, and sensory interpretation
Thymus – The thymus secretes several hormones that are known collectively as thymuses. The thymus and its collective hormones, thymuses, play an important role in helping the body develop immunity (the ability to resist disease).
Thymuses – help change a certain group of white blood cells called lymphocytes into T cells, which are programmed to attack any foreign substance in the body
Trauma – a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.
Trigger – cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist.
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