All living creatures survive and flourish by avoiding threats and gravitating towards rewards. Humans have language and consciousness, which creates some problems with this avoidance response. Thoughts create that same chemical reaction as a physical threat and we can’t escape our thoughts. Emotional pain is processed in a similar manner as physical pain. (1) Since humans can’t escape from their thoughts, there is a constant elevation of stress hormones. It only varies in the matter of degree. The other issue is that we have the ability to put a name on it. We call it, “anxiety.” Somehow, the medical profession decided that it was a psychological problem, where it just a description of the feelings generated by elevated stress hormones. It is not a “psychological” problem. Every human being has anxiety as a necessary survival trait.
When the real or perceived threat persists we feel trapped. This, of course, causes the secretion of even more hormones and the feeling of being angry. Anger and anxiety are similar entities. Many reactions occur in your body, which include:
- Shift of blood supply to skeletal muscles, which enables you to flee danger.
- Decreased blood flow to your brain – especially to the frontal cortex where most thinking occurs.
- Increased blood pressure
- Faster heart rate
- Rapid breathing
Adrenaline also effects every cell in your body with each organ systems manifesting its own unique response. There are four categories:
- Smooth muscles – control the digestion, bladder emptying, and diameter of blood vessels and lung airways.
- Skeletal muscle – muscles used for motor function including heart muscle
- Central nervous system – is intended to protect you and one starting point is to amplify danger signals from the environment such a pain
- Conversion reaction – a given organ system will just shut down.
There are over 30 symptoms that can occur with this sustained “adrenaline bath” from the different organ system reactions. They include:
- Migraine headaches
- Irritable bowel
- Spastic bladder
- Pounding sensation of your heart
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Rapid heart rate
- Chest pain
Central nervous system
- Burning sensations throughout the body
- Can feel like peripheral neuropathy
- Skin rashes
- Extreme anxiety/ depression
- Obsessive thought patterns
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
Conversion reactions – whole systems shut down
Your body – a cell culture medium
Dr. Bruce Lipton is a world-renowned cell biologist formerly from Stanford. He has authored several remarkable books including, The Biology of Belief and The Honeymoon Effect. My wife and I had the pleasure of meeting him and his wife. He succinctly pointed out that when he places human cells in a culture medium that contains adrenaline and cortisol that the cells shrivel. When placed in a culture dish that contains oxytocin and growth hormone they flourish. The difference isn’t subtle. Oxytocin is the hormone secreted at birth and is felt to be significant in a mother bonding with her infant. It is also nicknamed “the love drug.”
He also points out the human body is essentially one big culture medium contained by skin. BTW, there are about 50 trillion cells in the body. Therefore, as adrenaline is in contact with every cell the effects are profound. The way you think does affect your body chemistry. What chemical environment do you want your cells to be exposed to on a daily basis? You do have a choice.
Anxiety, anger, and adrenaline OR awareness, forgiveness, and acceptance.
Anger – The “Continental Divide” of Chronic Pain
Listen to the Back in Control Radio podcast Anxiety, Anger and Adrenaline