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Reducing Your Stress Levels By Retraining The Amygdala At Home


The Amygdala is the body's 'anxiety Switch'

The amygdala gland belongs to the limbic system and plays an important part in the development of emotions. It was only recently (1989, New York Medical University) that scientists discovered the role of the amygdala gland in storing and releasing emotional trauma. The amygdala gland is found about 1" into the forehead where your index fingers fall. A simple way to locate the amygdala gland is by placing your thumbs in your ears, and then place your middle fingers near the inside corners of your eyes.

Under normal circumstances, it remains in the 'off' position, only becoming activated when appropriate anxiety is required, in times of appropriate danger or threat for example.

Repeated activation of this 'switch', during times of stress, sadness, grief or anger for example, can cause it to become 'stuck' in the 'on' position. This allows acute anxiety disorders, panic attacks and phobias to develop.

This happens when the Amygdala learns new behavior. Because it has been taught a new level of anxiety through your anxious behavior, it incorrectly resets itself to the new 'benchmark' or 'normal' anxiety level for your body.

Even though you consciously know that it feels wrong, you are unable to consciously alter it once it has become set.

This process of learning is called Operant Conditioning. Scientists have known for many years that this is responsible for the production of all anxiety disorders, including panic attacks and phobias. Under normal conditions, Operant Conditioning is used by the brain to acquire new knowledge, like learning to read, drive or play a musical instrument. Practicing (repeating) an action or group of actions, causes us to improve the skill.

This same process happens in every single anxiety disorder sufferer. It is what causes anxiety, panic attacks and phobias. It is this and nothing else, which needs to be addressed and reversed in order to quickly and permanently eliminate anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, PTSD and agoraphobia.

All of these conditions, regardless of how severe they are or how long you have had them, are a result of the very same mechanism and therefore require the very same treatment.

Traditional methods, such as Psychology and Psychiatry, use 'talking therapy' to identify the cause of your anxiety or panic attacks, then analyze it over and over again, giving you exercises to follow or even diaries to fill in. The cause of anxiety disorders and panic attacks is not the 'life event' that created the stressful environment (abuse, bereavement, work stress etc.)

The actual cause is the way the Amygdala responded to that event and continues to produce anxiety and panic attacks, long after the event (when the Amygdala 'switch' gets stuck 'on'.)

By revisiting the perceived 'causes' during therapy and analyzing your actions, you are actually reinforcing the anxiety, practicing it and making it habitual, because it is remains at the very forefront of your mind!

Researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have discovered a high tech way to quell panic in rats, and this has now also been shown to work in exactly the same way in humans. The scientists detected the brain's equivalent of an "all clear" signal that, when simulated, ˜turns off' fear. The discovery has lead to non-drug, physiological treatments for runaway fear responses seen in anxiety disorders.

Rats normally freeze with fear when they hear a tone they have been conditioned to associate with an electric shock. Dr. Gregory Quirk and Mohammed Milad, Ponce School of Medicine, Puerto Rico, have now demonstrated that stimulating a site in the front part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, extinguishes this fear response by mimicking the brain's own "safety signal."

The researchers recorded electrical activity of neurons in the prefrontal cortex as rats were fear-conditioned ” taught to fear a tone by repeatedly pairing it with a shock. Then they abolished this conditioned fear by presenting the tone without the shock; the animals no longer froze when they heard the tone.

Although inactive during both procedures, neurons near the middle of the prefrontal cortex, the infralimbic area, fired conspicuously when the tone was sounded on the following day. This activity proved to be the brain's way of signaling that the tone no longer presaged a shock. The more the cells fired ” i.e., the louder this safety signal ” the less the rats froze. Animals that showed the most infralimbic activity behaved as if they had never been fear conditioned at all.