How feelings affect health
Valentine’s Day is usually associated with feelings. Obviously for some it’s a day associated with feelings of love or caring for others. Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day can also be associated with feelings of loneliness or disdain for some, depending on what their experience has been. I wanted to write something to help those who have negative feelings understand how what they feel affects their health. It’s my hope that in providing insight, people can become aware and allow days such as Valentine’s Day to play less of a role in increasing negative feelings.
This blog is strictly an explanation of the pathway chemicals go through when feelings such as anxiety, panic, fear, anger, resentment, grief or different phobias are present, and the physical illnesses that these feelings can bring about. Any physiological byproducts these negative feelings create are stored in different tissues in our body, such as the stomach, skin, muscles or organs. That’s why whenever we experience these feelings, stress appears and preexisting conditions reappear. Under these conditions chronic illnesses that we may already be suffering from are accelerated in their progression, causing it to come to the surface. That’s why we hear of stories from friends or family regarding a traumatic or anxiety filled experience that apparently scared them into developing a chronic illness such as diabetes.
The parts of our brain that participate in our emotional network include the limbic system, basal ganglia, hypothalamus, hippocampus, amygdala and the locus coeruleus. Around this area of the brain, there is a large number of inhibitor neurotransmitters which work to protect us from damaging the brain when we bombard our mind with illogical thoughts. There are other sections of the brain designed to recognize real danger. When this occurs, the amygdala’s circuitry activates the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus then releases specialized hormones that stimulate the pituitary gland to release the ACTH hormone, which travels to the adrenal gland and activates the production of cortisol. This gland also produces adrenaline when it is stimulated by neurotransmitters that travel from the brain to the adrenal tissues through the nerves. As adrenaline and cortisol rush through the bloodstream to the entire body the distribution of energy within the body changes so that the brain, heart, lungs and muscles receive a surge of additional energy. With this additional energy, the brain is now able to work at lightning quick speeds, allowing it to send files of memory and information to the limbic section of the brain. This provides the mental resources to quickly find a resolution without having to think things through logically. It’s a great mechanism that keeps us alive if we are in eminent danger. Once the problem has been solved and the brain perceives that there is no more danger, energy levels normalize to a balanced state.
If however, we do not reconcile stressful events once they are over, the brain will continue to believe we’re in danger. When the brain constantly feels that it’s in danger, the inhibitor neurotransmitters I referenced earlier begin to decrease. This in turn decreases our ability to think logically. As we add new thoughts that lack reason, additional stress is generated, resulting in the body believing that the amount of danger it is under has increased.
The basal ganglia is in charge of continually monitoring danger. The preservation of life is always the top priority for our mind and body and anything that sets off physiological alarms will always take precedence. When continual stress is present this part of the brain is affected as perceived fears and dangers, whether or not they are real, continue routing activity around the basal ganglia to activate thoughts into fears and danger. When we are in this situation everything around us appears as if it is out to destroy us – our boss will always appear as though he is looking to fire us; traffic will always seem like it only happens to us; finances will always appear to be messy; family and friends will appear to always have secret agendas; co workers are seen as obstacles and competition looking to take away our opportunities, etc. Constant worries run our life as our body continues to feel under duress and constant stress.
Under these conditions, the amount of neurotransmitters available continues to decrease, affecting our brain function. When neurotransmitters are empty, even good experiences can be encoded into the mind as negative ones. This happens because without neurotransmitters, our neurons – which are responsible for connecting and associating experiences and memories – aren’t able to make correct connections. This same lack of connections also makes it hard to recall details, important information and memories. Our ability to focus and stay attentive is also impaired. If stress continues to be present, over a period of time the amygdala becomes overactive, hypothalamus functions increase and the production of cortisol and adrenaline also rises. Specific neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine) that bring feelings of happiness and euphoria decrease, leaving us far more susceptible to feelings of sadness and depression. This leads to feelings of resentment, anger, loss of control, fear, anxiety and aggression. Interestingly enough, these feelings all continue to generate additional fear and stress, which further slow down neuron functions and the ability for our circulatory system to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the brain. This produces headaches and migraines. In some instances it can even lead to facial and cerebral paralysis.
Symptoms associated with this kind of uncontrolled brain activity include neck and shoulder pain, fatigue, headaches, excessive sweating, an accelerated heart rate, mental confusion, forgetfulness, insomnia, difficulty breathing, panic attacks, water retention, upset stomach, constipation, colitis, skin damage, hair loss, bloating, depression, dizziness, psychosis, migraines, hyperactivity, and metabolic disorders. Our false perceptions end up creating new circuitry that reaches the part of our brain that’s designed to turn on and off emotions. This ends up triggering damage and a disconnection with the frontal part of the brain.
We can compare this to a pathway made in uncharted territory. As we start a journey, a new path is created. With every new person that walks through, the path becomes more and more distinct and easier to follow. However, if the direction initially taken is wrong, then every person walking down that path will be traveling erroneously.
Thoughts are like the people walking through the path. With each thought our emotions and feelings leave a mark creating a perception. These marks and perceptions are picked up by similar thoughts and feelings we have in the future – it makes interpreting the world around us easier without having to analytically diagnose every single situation we encounter. Fortunately for us, there are signals and signs all over our brain that can warn us if we’ve picked up incorrect perceptions and have created a false reality. These are impossible to miss unless we aren’t paying attention. When we pick up these signals, all we need to do is create a new basis of thoughts to correct our course. This pattern of perception creation and route correction by the mind continues to repeat itself in a way to help lead us to an objective truth. However, if we don’t pay attention to the signs and warnings our mind provides, we end up creating a mental maze and end up trapped inside. This is important to understand because sometimes the routes we create activate areas and mechanisms in the brain. Tampering with these essential parts not only affects our ability to see things correctly, it also affects the entire body, causing organs and other systems in the body to become sick.
Here are a couple of case studies to help provide further insight into how this all works.
Carlos, Rosa and Marriage
Carlos and Rosa fell in love and were married. They planned on being happy and starting a family. Just like all other couples, they came into the marriage with their own set of challenges. After some time, unresolved issues from before their marriage began to surface. The stresses from these issues were partly cushioned in the first few years of their marriage due to other priorities that arose, such as the birth of their children, work, etc. However, when new unforeseen events entered their lives, unreconciled issues began to resurface. Unkind thoughts began entering their minds, adding to preexisting stress. This made it difficult for them to enjoy their marriage like they had previously. Carlos and Rosa both allowed these false perceptions, and the feelings they generated, to harbor in their minds. Their thoughts created a maze in the mind, affecting the amygdala, basal ganglia, hippocampus, pineal gland, and other compartments in the brain, creating unreal images and expectations of one another.
As arguing and contention increased their relationship weakened. It got to the point where their communication became superficial; only talking about bills, household needs, cost of milk, etc.They rarely communicated their personal feelings and goals. And when they did it lead to resentment, disappointment, and frustration, creating more false thoughts about each other and more damage to their relationship. Even good deeds were misinterpreted on both sides. Stress had increased to the point where the mere presence of one another triggered strong feelings of resentment and anger. All of this affected their health and brought about several health challenges, making their lives even harder.
Carlos and Rosa were married for 16 years when they attended one of our seminars. Their desire to find healing prompted them to talk individually with us. After talking, we recommended a solution to begin solving their issues of stress. With that as the basis, we also provided other protocols and solutions to assist with their specific chronic illnesses. Through addressing the mind, emotions and stress, Carlos and Rosa began to rediscover things that had previously been difficult to see. After a few months of following the protocols for their particular case their health drastically improved.
Broke and Homeless
Daniel is 45 year old man with a deep phobia of being broke and homeless. The odd thing however, is that he actually had a good job. Additionally he also had a lot of good friends who genuinely cared about him. Despite all this, he continued to worry about finances.
When we met Daniel these worries had already taken its toll on his health. The issue of financial problems is not something that surprised me, as I’ve seen many people with the same fear, regardless of their economic situation. In Daniel’s case, he was actually well to do. In fact, he had enough reserved in the bank to carry him through many years if needed. However, because he had grasped onto false perception/information and because he had repeated these thoughts, the emotions of fear had created such an impact on his mind that he created a new neural circuitry in his brain. This sparked the amygdala and other parts of the brain to believe and see him and his family as being homeless. His behavior began affecting his family life and personal health. He could not even hear about money and bills or even hear about the financial stress of others without feeling extremely uneasy and uncomfortable.
Our work with Daniel included getting at the root cause of why he felt how we felt. In order to achieve that we needed to alleviate Daniels’ mind of the burden he carried due to stress. In many instances, the majority of us forget the reason why we have a particular fear. We had Daniel follow our protocol for stress. After following with our stress solution, Daniel began to recall some personal financial challenges he had early on in his life. These challenges brought strong emotions that he never reconciled. As a consequence his mind had created a false reality of how things were – no matter how successful Daniel was financially. Daniel was then able reconcile his fearful thoughts and start his physical recovery. In less than 2 months his stress was under control.
As we can see, regardless of the subject or reason, any false or unreal thought will always lead to chronic stress. Every thought and emotion we experience is imprinted in our body through our minds and impacts our health. Luckily the mind will provide moments of impressions to help us sift what is real from what is false. These are the moments where our minds provide the ability for self healing and rewiring incorrect neural circuitry.