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  1. #21
    Senior Member Synapse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blankpages View Post
    Where to start...

    First of all, I'm glad you started this topic, Synapse. This is something I have a lot to say about: I had serious social anxiety myself as a teenager (very restricting effect on my life and also made talking to a therapist terrifying and damn near impossible). In addition, I have a degree in molecular biology so I'm interested in and knowledgeable about genetics.
    Social anxiety is of itself a fight or flight response regulated by the health of the adrenal glands. Would you say social anxiety can be managed by cognitive behavioural therapy when the adrenal response is causing the anxieties and panic attacks in response to the situational triggers. Then how would adrenal burnout come into effect with the stress generated from constant pressure from life circumstances. And how have you dealt with this?

    So...it's hard to know where to start here. Let's see...genetics or environment? I also think both contribute. I haven't been through anything that would normally be called abuse, but as others have described many other things can affect people. Especially children. Something that isn't a big deal on its own, like being teased at school, can be much more harmful if it becomes a long-standing pattern, or if a child is ridiculed or ostracized by most peers (s)he meets and accepted by few or none. Also, some things that seem okay on the surface feel very different when you are actually living them (such as Carnallace's example about her parents).
    Abuse is common, can be subtle, hidden as well as overt and open. For instance my brother emotionally blackmails me, he thinks its normal but this is abuse too. Yes bullying is abuse and this translates in the power struggles, politics and hierarchy in business. The business structure tends to have a school mentality and this is further manifest in the competitive nature that seems to be crucial in the manifestation of doing anything to achieve, in turn abusing powers and people. A snowball effect in any situation leads to a poor coping mechanism that sees stress increase as would anxieties from undesirable experiences, discrimination, harassment is abuse etc

    I do believe people naturally vary in temperament, and you see this throughout the animal kingdom. Within the same species, some animals can be bold and inclined to take risks, and some are more cautious and sensitive. Neither is "better"; they can both be advantages in a certain environment. When I took an ecology course, they illustrated this with rabbits as an example. Some rabbits are more adventurous in seeking food and less reactive to sudden noises or movements. Others are more cautious, avoiding risky situations, not venturing as far, and being quick to dash away at an unfamiliar sight or sound. The bolder rabbits are more likely to survive when food is scarce, since they're willing to take the risk to seek new sources of it. The more cautious rabbits are more likely to survive when a lot of predators are around, since their behaviour makes them less likely to get eaten. Since these factors are always changing, a variety of temperaments is often required for a species to survive. In addition, with social species that live in groups, different members can serve different functions. So, our ancestors may have had the best chances of survival when they lived in groups with some adventurous members willing to seek new opportunities, and some sensitive members who could alert others to possible threats. Other variations in personality could have evolved for similar reasons.
    You mean alpha, beta and omega style, dominance vs submission and in-between as survival strategies. The pack or herd mentalities to the lone wolfs and discarded misfits.

    That video was very interesting, and considering what I said above epigenetic changes make sense. If a pregnant woman is feeling stressed, (she may be in a threatening environment, and in the past an anxiety-prone, reactive temperament would have given her baby the best chance of survival in that case. I've read of a different study that showed a link between a woman's food intake and obesity risk: people are more likely to become obese if their mothers didn't consume enough food consistently during their pregnancies. Low food intake causes the mother's body to "think" food is scarce. If food is scarce, her baby would have a better chance of surviving if its body burned less calories, so changes in gene expression occur to bring this about and as a result these babies grow up to be more susceptible to weight gain. Similar thing with stress during pregnancy and anxiety-prone offspring. Interesting about the effect lasting for two or three generations: my paternal grandparents went through some extreme stress during the war, before they had children, and several people on that side have mental health issues.
    Very interesting, then the metabolism would change according to the genome of predecessors. Greater susceptibility to disease states as the bodies genetic code has been altered towards the state of the parent experiencing trauma or low level effects on their well being.

    I think there's a difference between reactivity to new situations and social anxiety though. Social anxiety is fear over what others may think of you. This means it requires an awareness that others are forming impressions of you. I don't believe animals or infants have this. I think inborn temperament can heighten one's risk of developing it by making others' negative reactions feel more painful, and/or making you notice them more, and/or causing you to behave in a way that makes them more likely. This is probably what happened with me.
    I'm of the belief that this is partially generated by the health of the endocrine system. That when the adrenal and thyroid production is blocked through environmental agents then this manufactures the states that are often found. Then a child can be socially anxious early on once the awareness is there to have thought perception I'd say. This would then feed the state as a confirmation and to unravel this state just like a phobia would be learning the trigger points, and trying to establish a proper nutritional and emotional balance to accommodate the deficit of certain hormonal and genetic markers? I dunno am waffling.

    Epigenetics illustrates that genetics and environment interact. Not only does environment affect gene expression with epigenetic changes, but inborn genetic temperament affects how people respond to you and how you experience life. As a child, my shyness and anxiety often lead to adults sometimes patronizing me, treating me as if I were younger than I really was, assuming I didn't understand things that other children understood (even though I was developmentally ahead of them in some ways), and sometimes becoming frustrated and disgusted with me. The other kids sometimes tried to 'mother' me as well during my first years in school, then often rejected me when I was older (junior high and up), thinking I was strange or "psycho" because I was so withdrawn. Almost always, people either had some kind of negative impression of me or didn't notice me at all. These things really affected my confidence and self-concept. I suspect culture has something to do with these reactions. Assertiveness and sociability seem to be valued quite a bit in Canada and the States, and people with these traits are often preferred over quieter personalities.
    Then is shyness changeable, in that respect will I go through life shy or can I learn to be un-shy. And in a way treating adults like children when they are adults is a form of abuse, invalidation of the age appropriate mental psyche. And this happens in families and schools a lot where the parent or teacher places value according to what station of experience or there lack of experience there is. As an adult outgrows this the tendency for the parent to continue to pander to rather than treat their child as human being equally as a friend than their child is causative to stress and down regulation of performance.

    It doesn't really make sense to say things like "Disorder x is 80% genetic" or "Personality trait 3 appears 1/3 genetic". Yet I see this all the time in everything from internet articles to my neuroscience textbook. People talk as if biological, psychological and social factors can be divided like slices of pie. They can't clearly be separated because they influence each other.
    Satisfying reading your thoughts thanks.

    Is there anyway to strengthen the the genetic legacy passed on to children to be less heightened to the artifact of having more pointless attributes. Like shyness, while this is defensive in nature, it is unnecessary in the technological age where survival while necessary is of itself a different manifestation than it was even 50 years ago.

    I certainly want my children to have the best start and to avoid going through the surreal life I experienced thanks to being shy and stressed so much. Its a real moot point really, so much opportunity falls by the way side from being shy that it begs the question it is something I want gone, gone yesterday.

  2. #22
    Junior Member Carnallace's Avatar
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    Ah, I'm glad you gave that example about your parents. It's a good example of a child being affected by something far less obvious than being beaten or berated. I think I had something similar going on with my father. His values seem somewhat different to those of your parents: intelligence was important to him, but he also wanted me rebellious, assertive, independent, argumentative, frequently questioning of authority, and "free-thinking" (which mostly meant thinking the way he does). He had all these kooky theories and ideas, and, unlike the rest of the world, I was supposed to be "aware" enough to agree with him and understand him. I felt he projected this ideal image onto me, to the point of not seeing the real person there. Sometimes I pointed out the ways in which I differed from that image or the very real vulnerabilities and flaws that I had, and he either insisted I was wrong or re-interpreted them to seem more like strengths. Even though he often expressed approval of me, that made me uncomfortable. He wasn't actually approving of me; he was approving of some made-up daughter, and insisting I was her. I think this really freaked me out, especially combined with the reactions from others I described above. I got the impression that I was supposed to be this amazing, brilliant, strong person, but the rest of the world gave me the message that I was weak, helpless and unlikeable. (If this is nothing like what you've experienced, feel free to ignore it. You post reminded me of my dad and I just kinda leaped off into that.)
    Our experiences definitely sound similar. Although, in my case it was mostly my mom who made me feel inadequate.

    I really related to the first phrase I bolded. I became so attached to the person they made me out to be. I became my own idol, if that makes sense. I wanted to be like the person she made me out to be. Everything about her/me was beautiful. But I felt like I could never live up to my own self. I didnít see the beauty, ingenuity, intelligence, compassion, or at a point, any of the positive things she portrayed of me. That image became unreal, as you said; something to admire, not something possible to live up to.
    Even now, I have this idealized image of myself, almost as if Iím looking down upon myself as myself.

    My mother always commended me and encouraged me. But, also like you said, it did make me uncomfortable. I felt constricted; even fake at times. When sheíd compliment me to others, all I wanted to do was scream out in denial- Iím not talented, Iím not smart, or creative or well behaved. Or anything like the person she saw me as. Iíd get nervous and embarrassed. When I was really young, I would even wonder why she was lying to them. Iíd belittle my accomplishments. (So I got an A on my test? Iím still a stupid person.)

    But I was too afraid to lose the acceptance she gave me, even though I never felt like it was me she was accepting.
    She also had this way of treating me different from my sisters. (I donít know if you have siblings or not, so ignore if this doesnít relate) She would brag about my Ďaccomplishmentsí but never so much with my sisters, who are both younger. Eventually, they too saw me as this epitome of what a person should be. And then they began to hate me because they had to live up to me.
    But I was trying to live up to me too.

    It's so hard not to feel like a failure when you feel like your parents had to make up a pretend image of you, just to respect you. Like you where never good enough.

    This may be totally different from your experience also. I just leaped off of yours. :]

  3. #23
    Senior Member Synapse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    I would say that it was learned, because I believe shyness to be a mild social anxiety. I would say my introversion made me more prone to it. I find myself growing out of it with age, because I make the deliberate effort to push myself past the fear. I do not hope to become an extrovert or less sensitive though. I do not see that as any disorder.
    Neither do I. I had a inclination to material that felt relevant to the discussion from a psychological standing yet life complexity is far stronger.

    I'd say that our states are manifestations of the stresses, ability to cope and hence the defensive INFP ideal is to get lost in our inner reality to recuperate, like an incubation where our daydream is our escape from that which is painful. And that which is painful is then taken aboard as something to shy away from or avoid. This then would extend to introversion in some instances. Would this apply to reservation and shyness. Would we respond and bounce back to the present when life flows and move deeper into our inner sanctuary when life declines.

  4. #24
    Senior Member Synapse's Avatar
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    Having said that there is a possibility of carry over through epigenetics.

    Epigenetics may explain susceptibility to anxiety, depression [Anxiety Insights]

    A family of genes involved in regulating the expression of other genes in the brain is responsible for helping us deal with external inputs such as stress. Their results may give a clue to why some people are more susceptible to anxiety or depression than others.

    studied the role of a family of genes known as KRAB-ZFP, which acts as genetic censors, selectively silencing the expression of other genes. These repressors make up about 2% of our genetic material, but little is known about how this "epigenetic" silencing process works, what the long-term consequences are, and even which genes are targeted.

    Because epigenetic alterations are often long-lasting and sometimes permanent, one could also interpret them as a way in which an individual's personal history can have a lasting impact on his or her genetic expression. "It's a way for a cell to have a sort of memory," explains Trono.

  5. #25
    (blankpages) Xenon's Avatar
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    Hi Synapse (and Carnallace, I'll get to your post in a sec).

    I haven't forgotten this thread...I'm just being my usual lazy self this week. I've responded to some of your questions and comments below. I was a bit unsure of some of the things you were asking me, so let me know if I'm misinterpreting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Synapse View Post
    Social anxiety is of itself a fight or flight response regulated by the health of the adrenal glands. Would you say social anxiety can be managed by cognitive behavioural therapy when the adrenal response is causing the anxieties and panic attacks in response to the situational triggers. Then how would adrenal burnout come into effect with the stress generated from constant pressure from life circumstances. And how have you dealt with this?
    Well, I don't know if you've tried CBT or read about it, but a CBT therapist would have something to say about the bolded part. CBT is built upon the idea that situations don't directly cause emotions; it's our thoughts, ideas, and attitudes about those situations that leads to the emotional response. The changes in adrenal system activity are part of the emotional response. It's set off when the brain perceives a threat.

    I'd think most inborn differences in personality have to do with brain variations: variations in neurotransmitter levels, level of responsiveness to them, etc. Some people's systems are more sensitive than others and there are many possible reasons for this, but the brain does need to be involved to set off the whole-body reaction. So the idea in CBT is to eventually train the brain not to perceive a situation as frightening (or hopeless, or anger-provoking, or whatever emotion you're trying to change), then the body follows suit. And yeah, many people have found CBT very helpful for anxiety, including social anxiety. People have described dramatic effects from it. Nothing works for everyone though, and as with any type of psychotherapy, success can have a lot to do with the relationship between therapist and client, as well as timing. It's hard to predict.

    In my case, when I was at my worst I tried seeing a counsellor, and I found it so difficult to speak to her that I couldn't benefit from it. A couple years later, my stepfather left my mother. He'd ignored me more than anything else, but at times he had intimidated me and treated me with anger and contempt. Just having him around felt oppressive, and after he left I noticed a huge difference in myself over the next few years. I also spent some time out of school, and when I returned I went to a school with a friendlier, less socially segregated atmosphere. The removal of these two stressors seemed to have quite a positive effect on me over the long term. It didn't happen right away; the change was slow and took place over a few years.

    I'm not sure what you mean by adrenal burnout. I know of adrenal burnout syndrome, and that's a completely separate medical condition. I've never had it and don't know anything about it. Do you mean the long-term effects of stress on the body?

    Quote Originally Posted by Synapse View Post
    Yes bullying is abuse and this translates in the power struggles, politics and hierarchy in business. The business structure tends to have a school mentality and this is further manifest in the competitive nature that seems to be crucial in the manifestation of doing anything to achieve, in turn abusing powers and people. A snowball effect in any situation leads to a poor coping mechanism that sees stress increase as would anxieties from undesirable experiences, discrimination, harassment is abuse etc.
    Yeah. I am a bit worried about how I'd handle this kind of situation at work if I ended up somewhere with an unhealthy social environment. I know mobbing and bullying happen in the workplace, and if something similar happens to me I'd likely be torn between staying in the environment and going through the whole job search again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Synapse View Post
    You mean alpha, beta and omega style, dominance vs submission and in-between as survival strategies. The pack or herd mentalities to the lone wolfs and discarded misfits.
    Yeah, something like that. The psychologist Karen Horney believed there were basically three unhealthy strategies people used to protect themselves from others: moving toward people (compliance), moving against people (aggression) and moving away from people (withdrawal). I'd say compliance and aggression fit with pack roles, while withdrawal is the attempt to avoid these. People choose different protective behaviours.

    Are you familiar with the enneagram as well as MBTI? I haven't read much about it, but each of the nine types supposedly prefers one of these three defenses. Types 4, 5 and 9 are withdrawing types. Three other types are more compliant, and the remaining three tend toward aggression.


    Quote Originally Posted by Synapse View Post
    Is there anyway to strengthen the the genetic legacy passed on to children to be less heightened to the artifact of having more pointless attributes. Like shyness, while this is defensive in nature, it is unnecessary in the technological age where survival while necessary is of itself a different manifestation than it was even 50 years ago.

    I certainly want my children to have the best start and to avoid going through the surreal life I experienced thanks to being shy and stressed so much. Its a real moot point really, so much opportunity falls by the way side from being shy that it begs the question it is something I want gone, gone yesterday.
    People have overcome this, so it can be done. I've had contact with a few through message boards and such. Some were quite disabled at one point, frightened of leaving their homes in some cases. Usually it took persistant work, through cognitive therapy, exposures, etc.

    I seem to have been lucky in a way, since my own anxiety sort of faded over time. In some ways though, I'm no picture of psychological health. I no longer feel watched and scrutinized and frightened and unbearably self-conscious, but the alienation and loneliness is still very much there. I'm quite isolated, often unsure how to be social with others, how to build relationships. I find it hard to relate to most people too, since I've had such an empty life, and much of others' conversations seem to be about things I've never had: friendships, dates, hobbies and activities...I can carry on small-talk, but it doesn't lead anywhere. I still tend to hold back my opinions and feelings, so that may have something to do with it. But the anxiety isn't anything like it used to be. I'm really not an anxious person anymore. I just wish I could make my life the way I've always wanted it to be.

    You can't change your genes, but the level of expression of certain genes changes all the time. Some of these changes happen in the short-term, in response to current conditions and happenings, and some in the long-term. The epigenetic DNA modifications are long-term changes. In addition, there are proteins that function to immediately encourage or inhibit gene activity, and these can function in the short-term (these would include the "genetic censors" mentioned in your most recent post).

    Synapse, your user name suggests an interest in neuroscience. Ever read Scientific American Mind? They had an article on epigenetics and mental health last year, in their June/July 2008 issue, called "The New Genetics of Mental Illness". They mention a couple of animal experiments. In one, rats who received more maternal attention early in life showed lower stress hormone production later on. This was later linked to a receptor in the brain that worked to calm anxiety levels after a stressful experience: rats who'd received less affection turned out to have less of it, so stressful events had a greater effect on them. Another study found a decrease in the level of a protein active in the brain in mice who'd been trapped in a cage with intimidating "bully" mice. This same protein seems to be lower in chronically depressed people. In both cases, the changes seemed to be linked to DNA methylation, reducing the activity of certian genes

    So, some changes can likely happen throughout life. I was thinking of that first vid you posted: they didn't mention how they concluded that these babies were affected in the womb. It seems at least as likely to me that their altered cortisone levels were a response to their mothers' behaviour (like the rats I mentioned), especially since the babies of women who were traumatized in their last semester were most affected. These women wouldn't have had much time to recover, and their behaviour after birth was most likely to have been affected.

    Anyways...kids. I'm not sure I should have any if I don't become healthier, since with my genes a positive and secure environment would likely be even more important than they would with the average child. I do think it's possible for any kids I might have to be well-adjusted and secure though. After all, none of my family members have had the social problems I've had. I just don't know if I can do it, if I can model social behaviour, given the interpersonal problems I still experience. Sigh.

  6. #26
    (blankpages) Xenon's Avatar
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    Hello Carnallace...

    My mind went in a number of different directions reading your post. I'll see if I can follow them all here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carnallace View Post
    I really related to the first phrase I bolded. I became so attached to the person they made me out to be. I became my own idol, if that makes sense. I wanted to be like the person she made me out to be. Everything about her/me was beautiful. But I felt like I could never live up to my own self. I didnít see the beauty, ingenuity, intelligence, compassion, or at a point, any of the positive things she portrayed of me. That image became unreal, as you said; something to admire, not something possible to live up to.
    Even now, I have this idealized image of myself, almost as if Iím looking down upon myself as myself.
    Oh yeah. I recall feeling the same way, and I think that contributed a lot to my withdrawal. It was like...I could either be the brilliant, assertive, unique, remarkable person my father thought I was, or I could be the shy, weak, pathetic creature I feared I was and other people seemed to think I was. And I preferred to avoid people, because that way I could protect the former image. When I was around people and felt frightened and vulnerable and unable to assert myself, it was devastating. When I shared an insight or idea (like in a school writing assignment) and someone thought it was anything less than remarkable, I was hurt. It was narcissistic in a way, since I needed to feel superior in some ways just to feel okay. If I wasn't incredible and special, I was pathetic and defective. I believe my improvement had a lot to do with learning to see myself as in between these extremes, learning to see that I didn't have to be amazing just to be acceptable.

    Do you think most of your social fears have to do with failing to live up to the traits your mother valued? My own were mostly about not being intelligent or insightful or interesting or assertive or outspoken, and those were the traits my father valued most. Different value systems would likely produce somewhat different fears. Of course, the values you adopt can come from your peers or culture too.

    Have you ever read The Feeling Good Handbook? It's a good introduction to cognitive-type therapies. Anyway, the author wrote in it that every socially anxious person he's seen in his therapy practice has "rigid" ideas of how they are supposed to behave in social situations, what kind of image they are supposed to portray. They feel it's unacceptable to appear less than perfect, less than confident and smooth and together, and this causes them to dread feeling nervous around others. They are convinced others will think less of them if they saw their fear, and this reinforces their anxiety. I know for me, my thoughts would often focus on this. I felt being shy and afraid meant I was weak, stupid, childish, passive, worthless, boring, everything I wasn't supposed to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carnallace View Post
    My mother always commended me and encouraged me. But, also like you said, it did make me uncomfortable. I felt constricted; even fake at times. When sheíd compliment me to others, all I wanted to do was scream out in denial- Iím not talented, Iím not smart, or creative or well behaved. Or anything like the person she saw me as. Iíd get nervous and embarrassed. When I was really young, I would even wonder why she was lying to them. Iíd belittle my accomplishments. (So I got an A on my test? Iím still a stupid person.)
    Was it like she was trying to show you off, or that she wanted you to reflect well on her? She sounds more conventional than my dad. He took pride in not caring about academic success or "good" behaviour, and in going against common societal attitudes. And of course, I was supposed to believe the same things. He'd go on about how he wanted me to think for myself, but it seemed he really wanted me to be of one mind with him, to agree with him and admire him all the time, to be his confidant.....oh, I could pages and pages on him. I'm not going to bother with that. I think what all this has in common is parents trying to fulfill their own needs with their kids. That's what I thought when you first mentioned being treated as a friend and confidant, and that's often what it's seemed like with my father.

    I recall an article about schoolchildren and mathematics that showed when kids are praised for solving difficult problems successfully and told that this shows high intelligence, this increases anxiety about future performance. The kid gets the idea that school performance determines their overall intelligence or worth, defines them in a way. These kids are more likely to back off of challenging problems in the future because they don't want to risk hurting their self-image. Kids who were motivated by being enouraged to think of solving challenging problems as interesting or satisfying, or who were praised for their efforts, did better. I think praising and complimenting kids doesn't always do the good parents hope it would.

    Anyways, I'm tired of my own talk, at least for now.

    Goodnight.

  7. #27
    Senior Member Synapse's Avatar
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    I tried CBT & CBGT - without lasting success. It is a lot more complex than emotional responses or lack of emotional responses to stimuli. Perhaps you can logically control some aspects, yet there are other factors that are causing the anxiety and this has a lot to do with the health of the endocrine system. Talks about your thoughts later, am too non focused today to say much.

  8. #28
    (blankpages) Xenon's Avatar
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    Sometimes when I see people talking about this online and such, and I try to think of things I might say to a younger version of myself, something to give her hope. And I really don't know. I've experienced my perspectives changing, seeing things from completely different sides, but when I try to think of how to describe it, it just seems like something I would have scoffed at when I was in the grip the anxiety and shame I'd experienced before. I can just see my younger self rolling her eyes, thinking, yeah right, you have no idea...you think I can control this?...this is just the same crap I've always heard before, it's never done me any good, etc. So if that's what I seem like to you, I apologize. I do know what it's like.

    I'm not sure if you thought I was saying that cbt is just about stimuli and responses (or did you mean anxiety was about more than that?). As I said, I couldn't do therapy when I tried it when was at my worst, but I have used cbt for some more recent, less serious concerns so I'm familiar with it. What I meant was that much of it is built on the notion that thoughts and ideas determine our emotions. So if emotions can happen regardless of what we're thinking, the written exercises, etc. you often do in cbt wouldn't make much sense. And, some kind of frightening thought does have to happen before anxiety is experienced. It can be difficult to pin down, often it can be non-verbal (I've had trouble when a counsellor asked me about verbal thoughts for this reason: my frightening thoughts were often more in images, "movies" of a feared scenario, things like that). And after you've been experiencing these feelings for awhile, you can get "anxious about being anxious" and have all these frightening thoughts that center around how awful you know you'll feel, and that complicates things even further. I think this last one particularly is often what's going on when people try to figure out what's making them frightened and can't think of anything. They've felt horrible in a certain type of situation before, and they're anticipating a similar experience and that itself is frightening.

    The brain sets off the stress response. That's not to say we have complete control over it or that people can will themselves to feel any way they want. The brain does a lot of things you can't control. Changing attitudes, associations and emotional responses you've had for most of your life can be hard as hell, and slow, and unpredictable and frustrating. That doesn't mean there is something wrong with your body. That's pretty much how we evolved, unfortunately for us.

    Any therapeutic intervention sometimes fails, and there are a number of reasons this can happen. I was going to mention some, then I noticed something. You said you had no "lasting" success. Does that mean you experienced limited improvement that disappeared afterward? A lot of the time when this happens, people conclude that what they did didn't matter, that it was a fluke or that they must have deluded themselves. Not true. If you notice any improvement at all, you are doing something right, even if the results aren't anything like what you were hoping for. Perhaps you could keep it up while adding something else, like lifestyle changes?

    I know it's frustrating. Peace, and good luck.

  9. #29
    Senior Member Synapse's Avatar
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    Feels better and can answer, yesterday was flat as, utterly flat. Not that I'm better today, but on a mini positive after starting my new job I feel reasonably satisfied and talky.

    Lets see

    Well, I don't know if you've tried CBT or read about it, but a CBT therapist would have something to say about the bolded part. CBT is built upon the idea that situations don't directly cause emotions; it's our thoughts, ideas, and attitudes about those situations that leads to the emotional response. The changes in adrenal system activity are part of the emotional response. It's set off when the brain perceives a threat.

    I'd think most inborn differences in personality have to do with brain variations: variations in neurotransmitter levels, level of responsiveness to them, etc. Some people's systems are more sensitive than others and there are many possible reasons for this, but the brain does need to be involved to set off the whole-body reaction. So the idea in CBT is to eventually train the brain not to perceive a situation as frightening (or hopeless, or anger-provoking, or whatever emotion you're trying to change), then the body follows suit. And yeah, many people have found CBT very helpful for anxiety, including social anxiety. People have described dramatic effects from it. Nothing works for everyone though, and as with any type of psychotherapy, success can have a lot to do with the relationship between therapist and client, as well as timing. It's hard to predict.

    In my case, when I was at my worst I tried seeing a counsellor, and I found it so difficult to speak to her that I couldn't benefit from it. A couple years later, my stepfather left my mother. He'd ignored me more than anything else, but at times he had intimidated me and treated me with anger and contempt. Just having him around felt oppressive, and after he left I noticed a huge difference in myself over the next few years. I also spent some time out of school, and when I returned I went to a school with a friendlier, less socially segregated atmosphere. The removal of these two stressors seemed to have quite a positive effect on me over the long term. It didn't happen right away; the change was slow and took place over a few years.

    I'm not sure what you mean by adrenal burnout. I know of adrenal burnout syndrome, and that's a completely separate medical condition. I've never had it and don't know anything about it. Do you mean the long-term effects of stress on the body?
    I mean what it implies. It isn't that separate imo, interrelated with stress and social anxiety and anxieties in general just at the extreme scale of situations. Yes, long term stress.

    Adrenal Burnout means excessive stress from chemical toxicity, nutritional depletion, mental, emotional or spiritual, financial, family or other stress may also contribute to burnout.

    Stimulants damage the adrenal glands. They whip the adrenals. Caffeine, sugar and alcohol are among the most common stimulants. Less obvious stimulants include anger, rage, arguing, hatred, loud music, the news and movies full of suspense. Vigorous exercise, sexual preoccupations and other thrills may also act as stimulants.
    Stimulant use, however, can also be a result of adrenal burnout. Stimulants are attractive to one in burnout to provide temporary energy. This is an appeal of the drug culture, both legal and recreational.

    Unhealthy responses to stress are another cause of adrenal burnout. These include habits of worrying, or becoming angry or afraid. Donít worry, be happy is a great prescription for adrenal burnout. This applies particularly to high-strung, nervous individuals and those with very active minds, as they are especially prone to adrenal burnout.

    Many children today are born with weak adrenals due to their parentsí nutritional deficiencies. By age three or four, these children are in burnout. They are often sick, depressed and have difficulty in school.
    Actually I believe the trigger is much more than this and may be passed on in an epigenetic sense, it is when the adrenalís are unable to process the stress and start to destroy rather than repair energy in your body. Anxiety is an adrenal response in the early stages.

    Anyway I sidetrack

    As I said the reason CBT was without much impact, and I tried for years to follow the logical sequence is because my body was in negative stress or gearing I'll call this. Until the HPA axis restores on any level, a major part of the neuroendocrine system that controls reactions to stress and regulates many body processes, including digestion, the immune system, mood and emotions, sexuality, and energy storage and expenditure will continue irrespective of CBT's efficacy. It is the common mechanism for interactions among glands, hormones, and parts of the midbrain that mediate the general adaptation syndrome.

    Its because the adaptive system of itself is compromised and no amount of CBT will get you back up to speed fully. I mean just by you saying you lack certain interpersonal qualities suggests to me there are aspects that are still underpinning your problems. Sure CBT can stabilize some thoughts and ideas but if the source is generated from an adrenal or thyroid state, basically the energy and emotional output being generated, then you're a bit screwed. Irrespective of how much counseling, psychological help, meditation, whatever it is you try the responses will continue to malfunction until you get to the source of the problem.

    Yes removing your stepfather helped the psychological aspect and will have lessened the impact of what goes on in your body. And naturally you have a chance to filter out that unfortunate aspect in your life. However, this is partial to the health of your body and the diet you maintain and other toxins and the gene code passed along maybe, who knows. Am speculating.

    Yes I am aware of the enneagram in the briefest forms, I am a 4w5.

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    People have overcome this, so it can be done. I've had contact with a few through message boards and such. Some were quite disabled at one point, frightened of leaving their homes in some cases. Usually it took persistant work, through cognitive therapy, exposures, etc.

    I seem to have been lucky in a way, since my own anxiety sort of faded over time. In some ways though, I'm no picture of psychological health. I no longer feel watched and scrutinized and frightened and unbearably self-conscious, but the alienation and loneliness is still very much there. I'm quite isolated, often unsure how to be social with others, how to build relationships. I find it hard to relate to most people too, since I've had such an empty life, and much of others' conversations seem to be about things I've never had: friendships, dates, hobbies and activities...I can carry on small-talk, but it doesn't lead anywhere. I still tend to hold back my opinions and feelings, so that may have something to do with it. But the anxiety isn't anything like it used to be. I'm really not an anxious person anymore. I just wish I could make my life the way I've always wanted it to be.
    You're talking to the, been there done that. You read like an echo of my life, but less extreme.

    You can't change your genes, but the level of expression of certain genes changes all the time. Some of these changes happen in the short-term, in response to current conditions and happenings, and some in the long-term. The epigenetic DNA modifications are long-term changes. In addition, there are proteins that function to immediately encourage or inhibit gene activity, and these can function in the short-term (these would include the "genetic censors" mentioned in your most recent post).

    So, some changes can likely happen throughout life. I was thinking of that first vid you posted: they didn't mention how they concluded that these babies were affected in the womb. It seems at least as likely to me that their altered cortisone levels were a response to their mothers' behaviour (like the rats I mentioned), especially since the babies of women who were traumatized in their last semester were most affected. These women wouldn't have had much time to recover, and their behaviour after birth was most likely to have been affected.
    Thanks for explaining this.
    The vid is part off a doco for 'ghost in your genes'

    Any therapeutic intervention sometimes fails, and there are a number of reasons this can happen. I was going to mention some, then I noticed something. You said you had no "lasting" success. Does that mean you experienced limited improvement that disappeared afterward? A lot of the time when this happens, people conclude that what they did didn't matter, that it was a fluke or that they must have deluded themselves. Not true. If you notice any improvement at all, you are doing something right, even if the results aren't anything like what you were hoping for. Perhaps you could keep it up while adding something else, like lifestyle changes?

    I know it's frustrating. Peace, and good luck.
    Amygdala response suppose from triggers, antagonisms from as environmental, psychological and medical states.

    Definitely lifestyle changes, diet, nutritional support, social structure and stability help. Ah I waffle, I still struggle, am still trying to regain my health fully and am in an experimental stage. Since anxieties in general are warning signs of other stages in balance possibly. Epigenetic angle is somewhere there.

    Sure the Mind, Body connection is a strong precursor to health as well.

    Epigenetic programming of neuroendocrine circuits in development to ageing

    Early-life stress can imprint the stress response of an organism and manifest as an increased reactivity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA-axis). This neuroendocrine system plays an eminent role in the mediation and co-ordination of vital stress responses. Lasting, yet potentially reversible changes in its set-points and operation mode, frequently associate with stress or depression and aggravate with age. These changes may trigger, or even result, from modifications of the epigenetic status of key regulatory components and their associated networks.
    Its interesting and gets passionate about the topic.
    Am probably irrational, annoyed at life at times other times not so much.
    Life will manifest in positives eventually, gotta. When you live long enough, better.

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