What Fires Together Wires Together--demon Anxiety & How to Rewire Those Nasty Networks!
- •When certain experiences are repeated, they are more easily stored in our memories. They are "fired and wired"This is a very good process to help us with learning. Every feeling, thought,experience, or physical sensation can form a neural network. If the same neural network is triggered repeatedly, the threshold drops
- •A good example might be a child whose parents frequently fought in front of him.The poor little guy experienced fear and anxiety every time his parents started shouting. His feelings started to wire together due to repetition. Now as an adult whenever this man hears voices raised, he experiences intense fight or flight symptoms￼--tightness in his gut, rapid heart rate, and a desire to flee
- •People with social anxiety, often have extreme sensitivity to the facial expressions of others.This is usually not happening consciously. From childhood, these folks either came into the world with networks that were sensitive to hints of violence in the expressions of others --or they were exposed to situations much beyond their comfort and control. Poor babies
- •Anxiety disorders exist on a spectrum from mild anxiety all the way to extreme post traumatic stress disorderEven though some of us come into the world more predisposed to anxiety than others, meaning we have sensitive neural networks that easily wire together, being exposed to any situation that feels out of your control is enough to really trigger intense anxietyin most of us
- •So what the hell do we do about this? How can we shift or change unconscious neural networks that have fired together and wired together over time? They can be as persistent as hell to try and change, which makes us feel so freaking helpless and alone
- •Meds plus good therapy equals lots of reliefMy first choice is really always good therapy, and good cognitive behavioral therapy helps us become aware of underlying cognitive distortions that are triggering our anxiety.
- •Sometimes medication can help calm down areas of the brain that are running at too sensitive a rate. What we think happens is that in anxiety-prone individuals, the threshold for triggering neural networks is lower than in othersLots of underlying biological conditions can really trigger anxiety. For example any strong hormonal shift, for example the onset of menstruation, childbirth, or menopause is often a trigger for severe anxiety in women
- •An anxiety attack, especially if it happens in public, and the individual fears not being able to get relief or help, can also then trigger a panic disorder.Panic disorder is often diagnosed as being with or without Agoraphobia, meaning that the individual starts to isolate so as to control the onset of symptoms. This creates a whole new problem.
- •If you notice a particular pattern to your anxiety: Certain thoughts, feelings, emotions or experiences that get triggered by certain internal or external events, pay close attention.We want to create a competing and effective neural network that can interrupt the old dysfunctional network. The more the good and effective network is repeated the less strength the old dysfunctional network has
- •For some people, some of the new somatic therapies can be very helpful: EMDR, EFT, EBT.
- •Please don't let yourself suffer. Help can be had! New wiring to replace old wiring is key. Meds, CBT, great relational therapy and loving support from family and friends all help.
- •P.S. Many people self-medicate their anxiety disorders with alcohol, drugs, food, compulsive behaviors etc. It never makes anything better it only makes things worse. Recognize that you are wiring in new dysfunctional behaviors on top of the original trauma
- •Hope that helps! XOXO!