How The Mind Affects The Body Essay,
connection is a very powerful one. For every thought in the mind, the
body has a reaction, regardless of whether it is real or imagined.
For example, when someone has a nightmare they will usually wake up
with their heart racing, sweating, and may be very agitated even
though all they were doing was sleeping. But in their mind there was
something bad going on and their body was reacting to it. This
demonstrates how strong the mind-body connection can be.
the most common psychological disorder that affects the young and
old, rich and poor, or even successful and unsuccessful people.
Everyone is a target for depression. For these very ill people life
is a hopeless prison sentence, and they themselves feel worthless and
unloved (Luce, 1971, p.152). There are three main types of depression
that affect many people nationwide. All three are mind disorders,
which can cause major problems in the body.
The first is
major depression. Major depression is a mood disorder characterized
by persistent feelings of despondency, worthlessness, and
hopelessness leading to impair emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and
physical functioning. This disorder, which affects about 12 million
Americans a year, stems from an overwhelming feeling of sadness. The
individual may feel alone although surrounded by friends and family.
They may cry for no reason, or suffer from low self-esteem. If not
treated, the body begins to suffer. The individual begins to lose
mental and physical energy, along with vague aches and pains. They
may experience restlessness and anxiety, which are displayed through
fidgeting and aimless pacing. Other changes include sleep disorder
and varied eating habits resulting in weight loss or gain.
Another type of
depression is seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This mood disorder
is brought on by changes in the weather. It will usually occur during
the winter due to larger amounts of the hormone melatonin being
released during cooler weather. People with SAD suffer from an
imbalance of this hormone and will feel more of the effects. Physical
effects may include less energy and a withdrawal from some activity.
Fortunately for these people, the disorder usually stops around
spring or summer.
A third type of
depression is bipolar depression. Individuals that suffer from this
type of disorder will alternate from incapacitating depression to
extreme excitement. Mood swings go from one extreme to the next. Some
may believe in an exaggerated opinion of themselves. Often the
individual may be very loud and frenzied, jumping from one topic to
another. They are usually unorganized because they try to perform
many tasks simultaneously.
both helpful and harmful. If the right amounts are produced, the
individual will be able to get things done; however, too much can
cause stress. Stress is a dangerous example of the mind-body
connection. Physical problems are quicker to show and can lead to
times the body is primed with adrenaline which gives a fight or
flight response. The body is ready for action and is reacting with
the fight emotions of anger, aggression, and hostility or the flight
emotions of fear, anxiety, and nervousness. In nature this helps in a
fight and the danger would have passed quickly.
nature, in modern society the environment has changed. Instead of
animals attacking, people are faced with financial, mental,
emotional, and social problems. For example, if an employee were to
get yelled at by their boss they couldn t fight or run because they
may have financial obligations depending on that job. Instead the
employee would have to sit there and listen. The problem is that the
body s defenses have been activated for fight or flight, but they
have not reacted either way.
Stress is caused
by a sudden shock, trauma or from being in the fight or flight of the
adrenaline cycle for long periods of time. The adrenaline cycle is a
natural process to allow extra strength and stamina in times of
threat and danger. If the individual stays switched in the adrenaline
cycle for long periods of time, their health may be affected. They
could suffer from fatigue, malnutrition, and nervousness.
with the adrenaline cycle is that it inhibits the immune system.
People who are in constant strain or stress are more likely to become
ill. They re the people who are more likely to get those common colds
and flues going around. People who are relaxed are much healthier.
The immune system changes the way it operates when it is primed with
adrenaline; energy is diverted away from the immune system to be
focused on the perceived threat. The immune cells are no longer able
to pass through the capillary walls of the blood vessels, this
inhibits their ability to destroy and remove harmful bacteria from
the body. The more fatigued and malnourished the person is, the
weaker the immune system becomes.
Also, the body s
response speeds up the metabolism and quickly burns up reserved
nutrients and energy. So, if this continues less resources are
available to deal with life and the body starts to degenerate,
compounding the situation and making the individual feel worse. While
more of the nutrients are being consumed, more wastes and toxins are
being produced. In nature there is immediate physical activity to all
threats. However, in modern society the person may overlook the
importance of physical activity as a necessary way to relieve stress.
problems build up during stressful times. Those under stress age more
quickly because of the higher rate and the closing down of the
peripheral circulation. The blood is redirected to the large muscle
groups away from the skin and other body organs, this deprives them
of the nutrients necessary to repair and regenerate. Stress shuts
down all non-essential processes like digestion, the immune system,
and the peripheral circulation; allowing the mind to focus on the
perceived threat. The mind-body connection starts to malfunction
because of the constant tension, leading to fatigue, sleep
deprivation, and malnutrition.
mind-body connection occurs during the unconscious hours of the day.
Problems occurring at this time are called sleeping disorders. Some
100 disorders of sleeping and waking harm personal health and quality
of life and endanger public safety (Lamberg, 1988, p.107). A common
type of sleeping disorder called sleep apnea is where a person has
problems breathing during sleep. Over 20 million Americans suffer
from sleep apnea; however, it is not often treated because symptoms
are thought to be depression, stress, or just loud snoring. People
with sleep apnea stop breathing for at least ten seconds at a time;
these short stops in breathing can happen up to 400 times every
night. There are three types of apnea: obstructive, central, and
mixed. Obstructive sleep apnea is where something is actually
blocking the windpipe. This may be the tongue, tonsils, uvula, or
even a piece of fatty tissue in the windpipe. Nine out of ten
patients suffer from this type of apnea. Central sleep apnea, which
is rare, is named because of its relation to the central nervous
system. During this type of apnea, specific muscles don t get the
necessary signal to breathe. Either the brain isn t sending the
signal or it is interrupted. Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of
the two. People suffering from this will have a pronounced snore with
sudden, loud snorts. These gasps for air are usually a lifesaver when
the mouth and throat muscles tense up to allow air back into the
body. Most sleepers are totally unaware of this and will simply fall
back asleep. Patients will occasionally fall asleep at inappropriate
times. Other signs include morning headaches, memory difficulties,
low energy levels, agitation, shortness of breath, or leg swelling.
In some serious cases, the continuous oxygen deprivation caused by
sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes,
or even sudden death.
The mind causes
many problems for the body. However, there is hope. There are ways to
fight depression, stress, and sleeping disorders. Common cures are to
relax and find an outlet for all worries. Physical activity helps
minimize the anxiety brought on by everyday problems. Simple
breathing exercises or meditation repeated has helped many people who
suffer. Those suffering from sleeping disorders should try sleeping
on their side, exercising regularly to regulate breathing, remain in
shape, and stay away from alcohol and sleep medications. A new type
of psychology deals with the power to heal through extrasensory
abilities. Research has shown that basic energies can be controlled
by mind or consciousness to cause changes in the body (Kettelkamp,
Despite all the
negative effects of the mind-body connection, there are many good
aspects to it. Without the adrenaline response to stress, people
wouldn t be able to get things done or even perform everyday
operations on a regular basis. Sometimes a mild depression can signal
a need for a break from excessive activity. On the other hand it may
determine a need to get out of a slump. Whatever the problem is, the
mind is sure to let the body know.
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