Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Health Care and Fright

Ever been so afraid that you could not speak or move, or worse, experience symptoms of not being able to breath or faint? Have you ever been so scared that you thought you might die? Well, the worst situation you ever encountered that caused you to be scared out of your mind may have given you heart palpitations, severe sweating, or weakness in all your muscles and more. According to Answers.com, Fright, a state of sudden, extreme fear, is provoked either by a situation experienced as an external danger or by the feeling of a high probability of danger. Situations capable of causing fright are often associated with a risk of physical or mental death.

There are many things to be afraid of in life, according to ExploreFaith.org. Losing a loved one. Going broke. Growing old. Being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Dying. These are some of the more common fears we all face, and to ignore these threats is to live in denial. Fear is hardwired into our brains as a mechanism for self-preservation. For example, we might be driving down the street and suddenly another car pulls in front of us. Fear is what activates our bodies and minds to deal with that threat, so we instinctively swerve out of the way to avoid a collision. In this sense, fear can save our lives. This is healthy fear—an awareness and respect for what is dangerous in life.

There is, however, an unhealthy kind of fear. According to ExploreFaith.org, you can be fearful of what others will think of you, and decide to avoid contact with them. You can be fearful of not having the comforts of life, and spend your best energies collecting possessions to ensure your comfort. You can be fearful of not feeling loved by someone, and attempt to control them to ensure that you feel loved. You can be fearful of your emotional pain, and use drugs and alcohol to numb yourself to ensure you don’t feel that pain. You can be fearful of those who are different from you, and develop prejudice, even hatred, to strengthen your sense of superiority over them. Rather than protecting your life, these kinds of fear diminish and undermine yourself and the lives of others. Unhealthy fear is fear that controls you and consumes you.

In the 1890s, Sigmund Freud identified fright as a severe element of fear. He found links between certain forms of hysteria and traumatic neurosis, combined in the term traumatic hysteria, according to Answers.com. Unlike the physical expression of hysteria, the affect of fright is mental trauma. In a clinical context, fright is accompanied by a state of shock and stupor or, more rarely, by disordered agitation. But ever since Freud, psychoanalytic clinical practice and theory have always emphasized the passivity of fright and total lack of preparedness of the subject in the face of the situation, which are due as much to the totally unforeseeable nature of the event as to the potential for concrete danger. It is in this sense that fright must be differentiated from fear (a concept implying a definite object) and anxiety (a central psychoanalytic concept connoting the anxious expectation of an external or internal danger that needs to be confronted). As with many concepts, this distinction between internal and external is primarily metaphoric. Fright is associated with the splitting of the ego, the castration complex, and the perception of reality.

Additionally, many senior citizens have a fear of night time, especially if they are dealing with certain health issues such as dementia. According to MichiganHomeCare.com, nighttime can be very frightening for seniors – especially those who live alone. Many problems that occur at night with seniors are rooted in physical changes that result from aging, many of which are often connected to sleep disorders. Seniors’ sleep problems can be rooted in many sources. There are physiological changes occurring with age, such as decreased amounts of time spent in certain stages of sleep. However, it’s not necessarily the aging process that disturbs sleep, but rather the many physiological changes that accompany getting older. In addition to those medical illnesses and medications common in older adults, there can be psychiatric problems and changes in circadian rhythms. These rhythms help determine when you sleep, and they change as you age.

Fear and anxiety effect automatically, according to Sey7.com. Your autonomic nervous system regulates how body organs work. Chiefly a part of the autonomic nervous system, called ’sympathetic’, automatically interacts with your mind when you worry, experience anxiety, fear. When fear is felt the mind signals a threat, danger, or emergency physically (e. g. a hand raised in anger) or psychologically (e. g. distrust); the sympathetic nervous system immediately comes into action to help protect or defend ourselves to your best possible advantage. Suddenly automatically you breath more oxygen which, with cyclic biochemical reactions, energizes your ‘electron transport chain’ and synthesises with other substances in our body, upon that fear signal. This synthesizing upon that fear signal urgently turns on electrical impulses which fire from cell to cell at very high speeds communicating that fear to the control center in the brain.
In your fear and anxiety, the brain instantly issues commands to the organs to take action. Your organs immediately divert and concentrate energies from other organs to those relevant to your fear and anxiety. The pupils of your eyes grow bigger to see better, the blood vessels expand to more and faster supply, to enable your muscles to react. In aid of that the body produces adrenaline to enhance alertness and your actions for ‘flight’ or ‘fight’, as your values dictate, and as you feel directed by your fear, anxiety.

According to the Olin Health Center at the University of Michigan, the human body has an inborn, "pre-wired" response for dealing with dangerous situations - it is called the "fight or flight" response. Both fighting and fleeing require the same activities on the part of the body's organs. The purpose of this response is to prepare the individual for vigorous muscular activity in response to a perceived threat. By itself, this response is normal, healthy, and adaptive. It is when the "fight/flight" response occurs too frequently or is greatly prolonged that you begin to experience the negative effects of stress. Too much "fight/flight" activity without corresponding rest and relaxation is what distress is all about.

According to ChangingMinds.org, when you perceive a significant threat to you, then your body gets ready either for a fight to the death or a desperate flight from certain defeat by a clearly superior adversary. Fight or flight effects include:
--Your senses sharpening. Pupils dilate (open out) so you can see more clearly, even in darkness. --Your hairs stand on end, making you more sensitive to our environment (and also making you appear larger, hopefully intimidating your opponent).
--The cardio-vascular system leaping into action, with the heart pump rate going from one up to five gallons per minutes and your arteries constricting to maximize pressure around the system while the veins open out to ease return of blood to the heart.
--The respiratory system joining in as the lungs, throat and nostrils open up and breathing speeding up to get more air in the system so the increased blood flow can be re-oxygenated. The blood carries oxygen to the muscles, allowing them to work harder. Deeper breathing also helps you to scream more loudly!
--Fat from fatty cells and glucose from the liver being metabolized to create instant energy.
--Blood vessels to the kidney and digestive system being constricted, effectively shutting down systems that are not essential. A part of this effect is reduction of saliva in the mouth. The bowels and bladder may also open out to reduce the need for other internal actions (this might also dissuade our attackers!).
--Blood vessels to the skin being constricted reducing any potential blood loss. Sweat glands also open, providing an external cooling liquid to our over-worked system. (this makes the skin look pale and clammy).
--Endorphins, which are the body's natural pain killers, are released (when you are fighting, you do not want be bothered with pain–-that can be put off until later.)
--The natural judgment system is also turned down.

According to EzineArticles.com, finding smart ways of dealing with fear and anxiety effectively is of great importance to millions of people worldwide. Most people who are dealing with fear and anxiety still have a vivid visual image of the traumatizing event seared into their memory. There are many examples of fear and anxiety issues, for instance the person who refuses to drive because they had a serious automobile accident many years ago, the person who won't venture above the second floor due to fear of heights, the person who won't eat fish because they got sick after a meal, or the golfer who missed that key short put in the big tournament and now has a bad case of the yips (tendency to miss short puts). The list of examples is endless and there are many ways for dealing with fear and anxiety issues. Some good, some bad, and some downright wacky.

According to CCCOE.net, here are a few tips to deal with fear:
1. Identify what is making you afraid.
2. Get in touch with your physical feelings. How do you feel fear?
3. Decide if you are in physical danger right now. Do you need to move away now?
4. Are you feeling a milder form of fear, such as anxiety or intimidation?
5. Breathe deeply and try to remain calm.
6. Seek out another caring adult. Share your concerns with him or her.
7. Think of ways you can avoid this danger (flight) or overcome your doubts (fight).

When you think about fear, you think of being frightened, scared and being afraid, according to SacredMint.com. Those are all feelings and emotions that people experience from time to time and are completely normal. You can go into a theatre and watch a scary movie, and although in your conscience mind you know it's not real, your emotions and feelings can get caught up in the story and become literally afraid and scared. Fear in itself is not wrong, even the Bible talks about fearing God is the beginning of wisdom and how you are to fear punishment and repent. It's what that fear leads you to is what makes you or breaks you. Does it keep you on the right path, or does it cripple you and hold you back from enjoying life?

Being afraid can be legitimate, based on the circumstances. You can be frightened by situations that are out of your control. You can fear the unknown, and the uncertainties of life in general. However, the phobias that exist in your life can be defeated, or control you if you let them. When you consider all that is scary in the world, learn to lean upon a Higher Power to help you win over the frightening things in life.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

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