Fear in one of the seven universal emotions experienced by everyone around the world. Traditionally it is considered a ”negative” emotion, fear actually serves an important role in keeping us safe as it mobilizes us to cope with potential danger.
Fear in a natural, powerful and primitive human emotion. It involves a universal biochemical response as well as a high individual emotional response. Fear alerts us to the presence of danger or the threat of harm, whether that danger is physical or psychological.
Sometimes fear stems from real threats, but it can also originate from imagined dangers.Fear can also be a symptom of some mental health conditions including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobias and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Fear is composed of two primary reactions to some type of perceived threat:-
• Biochemical Reaction –
Fear is a natural emotion and a survival mechanism. when we confront a perceived threat, our bodies respond in specific ways. Physical reactions to fear include sweating, increased heart rate, and high adrenaline levels that make us extremely alert.
This physical response is also known as the “fight or flight” response, with which your body prepares itself to either enter combat or runaway. This biochemical reaction is likely an evolutionary development. It is an automatic response that is crucial to our survival.
• Emotional Response –
The emotional response to fear, on the other hand, is highly personalized. Because fear involves some of the same chemical reactions in our brains that positive emotions like happiness and excitement do, feeling fear under certain circumstances can be seen as fun, like when you watch scary movies.The physical reaction is the same, the experience of fear may be perceived as either positive or negative depending on the person.
Some of the different types of anxiety disorders that are characterized by fear include-
• Generalised anxiety disorder
• Panic disorder
• Post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
• Separation anxiety disorder
• Social anxiety disorder
• Specific phobia
Fear often involves both physical and emotional symptoms. Some of the common signs and symptoms include –
• Dry mouth
• Rapid heartbeat
• Chest pain
• Shortness of breath
• Upset stomach
In addition to the physical symptom of fear, people may experience psychological symptoms of being overwhelmed, upset, feeling out of control, or a sense of impending death.
Impact of chronic fear-
Living under constant fear has serious health consequences-
• Physical health –
Fear weakens our immune system and can cause cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and irritable bovel syndrome and decreased fertility. It can lead to accelerated ageing and even premature death.
Fear can impair formation of long-term memories and cause damage to certain parts of the brain which make it more difficult to legalate fear and can leave a person anxious most of the time. To someone in chronic fear, the world looks scary and their memories confirm that.
• Brain processing and reactivity –
Fear can interrupt processes in our brains that allow us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and other information presented to us, reflect before acting, and act ethically. This impacts our thinking and decision – making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions.
• Mental health-
Other consequences of long-term fear include fatigue,clinical depression and PSTD (Post traumatic stress disorder).
Fear is incredibly complex. Some fears may be result of experiences or trauma, while others may represent a fear of something else entirely, such as a loss of control. Still, other fears may occur because they cause physical symptoms, such as being afraid of heights because they make you feel dizzy and sick to your stomach.
Some common fear triggers include-
• Certain specific objects or situations (spiders, snakes, heights, flying etc.)
• Future events
• Imagined events
• Real environment dangers
• The unknown
Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing persistent and excessive feelings of fear. Your doctor may conduct a physical exam and perform lab tests to ensure that you fear and anxiety are not linked to an underlying medical condition.Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may diagnose you with a type of anxiety disorder, such as a phobia.
Treatment of fear consists two ways –
Helping yourself to come out of fear can be done through following ideas-
• Face you fear if you can-
If you always avoid situations that scare you. You might stop doing things you want or need to do.You won’t be able to test out whether the situation is always as bad as you expect, so you miss the chance to work out how to manage your fears and reduce your anxiety. Exposing yourself to your fears can be an effective way of overcoming this anxiety.
• Know yourself-
Try to learn more about your fear or anxiety. Keep an anxiety diary or thought record to note down when it happens and what happens. You can try setting yourself small, achievable goals for facing your fears.
Increase the amount of exercise you do. Exercise requires some concentration and this can take your mind off your fear and anxiety.
Learning relaxation techniques can help you with the mental and physical feelings of fear. It can help just to drop your shoulders and breathe deeply or imagine yourself in a relaxing place. You could also try learning things like yoga, meditation,massage etc.
• Healthy eating-
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and try to avoid too much sugar. Resulting dips in your blood sugar can give you anxious feelings. Try to avoid drinking too much tea and coffee, as caffeine can increase anxiety levels.
• Avoid alcohol or drink in moderation –
It is very common for the people to drink when they feel nervous. Some people call alcohol ‘Dutch courage’, but the after effects of alcohol can make you feel even more afraid
• Faith/spirituality –
If you are religious or spiritual, this can give you a way of feeling connected to something bigger then yourself. Faith can provide a way of coping with everyday stress and going temple or other faith groups can connect you with a valuable support network.
Take help from others –
You can come out of your fear by taking help from others which includes-
•Talking therapies –
Talking therapies, like counselling or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, are very effective for people with anxiety problems.
• Medication –
Drug treatments one used to provide short-term help, rather then looking at the root of the anxiety problems. Drugs may be most useful when they are combined with other treatments or support.
• Support groups-
You can learn a lot about managing anxiety from asking other people who have experienced it.Local support groups or self-help groups bring together people with similar experiences So that they can hear each other’s stories, share tips and encourage each other to try out new ways to manage themselves.
From an Ayurvedic Perspective, fear is an imbalance in the Vata dosha.Vata is the ‘air’ principle. It is light, dry and mobile. An imbalance of Vata, mentally, is associated with an overabundance of lightness or movement- erratic thoughts, worries, obsession, confusion and difficulty focusing.Vata imbalance is also associated with hyper-excitable nervous system and trouble sleeping. If you have ever heard someone say they feel “ungrounded”,that’s a classic description of Vata imbalance. To treat Vater imbalance,You have to stabilize your energy- calm the nervous system,relax the mind, release obsessive thoughts, connect to your body.
• Sarvangabhyanga –
• Swedena –
• Shiro dhara-
• Holy Basil-
• Ashwagandha –
• Jatamansi –
• Gotu Kola –
• Brahmi Vati
• Ashwagandha Churna
• Manasmitra Vatika
• Brahm Rasayan
• Moti Pisti
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