“Anxiety and panic attacks are abnormal reactions to normal situations”
As modern human beings we have been plunged into a life of work stress, bill paying and other social stresses.
If you look back over the last 100 years the lifestyle of the average person has changed quite radically.
We are experiencing much higher levels of stress from sources that simply we not there 100 years ago.
The problem is that our physical makeup has not had enough time to evolve with these social stresses, to modify the physical and chemical make-up in order to function efficiently in such conditions.
Anxiety levels become heightened when situations arise which increase the levels of the hormone adrenaline in our blood.
Adrenaline is released in order to prepare the body for what is commonly referred to as ’the flight or fight’
response. This process has evolved in order to prepare the body for action when face with danger and is vitally important for survival When man lived in a far less advanced environment, in pre-history for example when we were not only hunters but also the hunted, we were the prey of many wild animals. If a mountain lion had jumped out on a prehistoric man a number of physiological changes take place to prepare the body to either fight or run, hence
’flight or fight’. As nerve impulses are received by the brain alerting it to potential danger, the brain sends an instantaneous mess age out to the adrenal glands to release adrenaline into the blood stream.brain_republican
Various systems of the body are then affected in order to make the body faster, stronger and lighter.
We have all heard the very coarse statement by people “I was so scared I nearly filled my pants” or “ I nearly wet myself”, both of which originate from a reference to the flight or fight response. OK let us go back to the mountain
lion; in order to run away from it the body evacuates the bladder and the colon to make the body lighter and therefore faster.
Water is soaked up by the body making the mouth dry,the largest organ of the human body, the skin, and turns pale as blood is diverted from it to internal organs and the muscles. Blood used to collect absorbed nutrients from around the intestines is diverted too, causing the digestion to be slowed, the feeling that accompanies this is often described as butterflies and can also manifest itself as nausea or indigestion. The body starts to sweat in order to cool down and muscle tension causes the body to shake. The senses become sensitized, the pupils dilate to become more effective at seeing finer movements, and the hearing is sensitized to hear quieter noises. The heart pumps blood around the
body faster to supply the muscles with oxygen, it appears to skip beats as more adrenaline is introduced.
As these processes spring into action the body is prepared for battle or to run. The lion pounces and the body reacts running as fast as possible, eventually climbing a tree and escaping the danger, all of the adrenaline has been used up, the heart rate slows and the body returns to normal. Ok now imagine the same scenario but this time the mountain lion in the bushes turns out to be a rabbit, the body calms again but this time the adrenaline has not been used up by running or fighting. The adrenaline level in the blood is now higher. Now assume that this happens
regularly, as time goes by the body becomes accustomed to a higher blood adrenaline levels.
This is precisely what happens to the body in modern life. The road rage, money worries, fighting kids, job pressures and credit card bills of modern life increase levels of adrenaline in the blood. The body is in a constant state of arousal, ready for “fight or flight”. Some people can cope with this increased arousal, some people actively pursue it by partaking in dangerous sports such as bungee jumping or parachuting, but they seem to have a higher ‘normal’ adrenaline level.
Panic disorders usually develop as a response to the fear of having a panic attack.
This is almost a vicious circle as the sufferer then starts avoidance techniques in order to control anxiety-provoking situations, phobias develop and the disorders worsen.