The ability to perceive the signals of your body is known as interoceptive accuracy (IAc). There are, different psychosomatic cues that you pick up within yourself during states of anxiety. But above all, a beating heart is the hardest one to ignore.
It’s for this reason that heartbeat perception, as brain scientists call it, is a direct proxy for measuring people’s IAc and reported anxiety and stress levels.
IAc and a beating heart
Having the ability to accurately detect your own heartbeat is critical for reappraising your anxiety on a moment to moment basis. We know that anxiety is as much in the body as it is in the mind, and that a (mis)perception of a fast heart rate can easily contribute to the catastrophization of a panicked state.
It’s why some of the most effective anxiety-related therapies, like progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing, tend to focus on muting a physiological response followed by a cognitive reappraisal technique.
Now in terms of IAc, the longstanding view was that it is an inherited trait, similar to eye color or height. Your IAc is immutable, unchanging. But now there’s new evidence suggesting that the situation matters just as much as the person: While some people may have inherently bad interoceptive ability, we can’t ignore the influence of the broader context. And this, if it turns out to be true, is a definite win for anyone looking to reverse a certain anxiety-based predisposition.
The study and findings
A team of researchers led by Martin F. Whittkamp out of the University of Luxembourg set out to investigate just how much of a role the environment plays in determining our ability to self-reflect on accurate biofeedback.
The researchers relied on two methods to measure IAc via heartbeat perception. The first, called the counting task is simply a comparison between actual measures of your heartbeat with your self-reported measures. Another method, called the heartbeat discrimination task, measures how accurately you can rate whether or not your heartbeat is in sync with an external stimulus such as a blinking light on a computer screen.
The team in this newest study compared the results of both a heartbeat counting task and discrimination task in two conditions: a resting state and a stress state. Mental stress was induced by having participants match the color of a flashing light bulb with a corresponding button as fast and accurately as possible. If this wasn’t stressful enough, the experimenter also chimed in with a few verbal cues urging the participant to perform better so as to not ruin the entire experiment.
In addition to comparing stress state IAc with resting state IAc, the researchers also designed a number of computational models. These models aimed to measure how much of one’s interoceptive accuracy is owed to individual ability versus the situation.
The results found that about 40% of a person’s IAc can be explained by his/her individual traits, while around 30% can be explained by the changing situation, leaving the remaining 30% to measurement error.
What this says is that your ability to detect and therefore modulate your bodily responses during an anxious state is not fixed. These signals are amenable to change. You can learn to more accurately perceive your beating heart in a high-stress environment. You can apply reappraisal techniques in mitigating your anxiety.
The findings of this study have the potential to inform research on stress and anxiety management. For example, having a general idea of how much your IAc is dependent on biological predisposition could provide leeway to pharmaceutical interventions to help combat debilitating responses to stressful situations.
For now there’s therapeutic power in knowing you can improve your IAc and work towards minimizing your anxiety.
Suicide can be preventable since infancy. Having caring parents and relatives who really love their children and look out for them, creating an optimal and loving environment for their healthy and happy growth.
However, this almost seems like a utopia in the world we live in. But it is not impossible, we have to have hope, always, and have love, for ourselves, our children, our family and friends.
But, even when we have had been raised in loving homes by caring parents, in a healthy social and mental environment bad things happen to good people as we all know: a failed marriage, the death of a loved one, the loss of work or income, a traumatic accident; things that could trigger an acute depression and if not treated immediately it could develop into a severe case of suicidal depression.
When a friend, a child, a patient, anybody tells us that “I don’t want to live anymore”, or that “I am going to kill myself tonight or tomorrow”, we have the responsibility as human beings to believe him/her and help in anyway possible and as soon as possible.
“There is a critical window in which depressed patients who are suicidal need rapid relief to prevent self-harm,” said Michael Grunebaum, MD, a research psychiatrist at CUMC, who led the study.
“Currently available antidepressants can be effective in reducing suicidal thoughts in patients with depression, but they can take weeks to have an effect. Suicidal, depressed patients need treatments that are rapidly effective in reducing suicidal thoughts when they are at highest risk.
Currently, there is no such treatment for rapid relief of suicidal thoughts in depressed patients.” — Read more here
I was moved by her opinion and her pain of losing somebody in her family she really loved very much. So, as a medical doctor I do agree with several points she makes. She is of course referring to medical doctors in her country (US). I practice in Mexico and she actually praised some medical-biological scientists in Mexico City who, recently, discovered and developed a vaccine to cure the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
So, I left this comment
And I got a lot of people liking my opinion, for which I am sincerely pleased and grateful.
But still, there are some comments directed to me that I find totally cruel, inappropriate and ignorant. Like this one:
FIGHT ANXIETY WITH FLOWERS BEAUTY AND RELAXATION POWERS
Flowers relax the brain with their colors and beauty (vision), their essence (smell), their texture (touch).
Constant stimuli to the brain can create havoc on our central nervous system, and thus to our way of living.
Learning to relax is primordial, and flowers, herbs and plants can play an important role taking the stress away from your life.
1. Jasmine improves sleep and anxiety
Jasmine is a shrub found outdoors, but with proper care and the right location you can grow it indoors. Its fragrance is not only sweet to our senses, it’s proven to promote a better night’s sleep.
If you surround yourself by jasmine, it’s likely you’ll feel less anxious and more at peace, which results in waking up more alert.
Sleep plays an important role in our physical and mental wellbeing. If you’re lacking in sleep, you may find you have trouble making decisions, controlling your emotions, solving problems and coping with change.
2. Gerbera daisy helps to remove toxins from the air
It removes benzene from the air – a chemical associated with inks. Add one to your office, laundry room or bedroom to promote a calming ambience and fight anxiety.
Mist the leaves a few times a week. When this flower blooms, its colourful petals can last up to two weeks. The pretty hue not only adds energy to our homes, but having brightly coloured plants in the house and office also helps to promote happiness.
We all have ups and downs. The key is to know that we can lift ourselves up whenever we start feeling apathetic, getting some strong motivation.
INSPIRATION TIPS TO GET YOURSELF OUT OF BLUE TIMES:
Once we notice that our mood starts going down, it’s time
For some inspiration quotes,
Getting away from toxic people
Take a sunbathe
Plant a seed or bulb
Wear some make up
Get that expensive perfume you love
Call your best friend or friends
Treat yourself to a superb meal.
Drink your favorite wine
Take a bath in a tab full of majestic aromas
Remember everything you are good at
Be proud of yourself
Don’t give up on your goals
Read some good jokes and laugh out loud
Write down all the wonderful qualities you have
INSPIRATION: Never give up!
Nothing in this world has the power to make you feel bad, you should not let anybody to have that power over you. Take that power away from them and give it to you.
Situations could be hurtful but don’t allow them to rule your life. Take them as an experience in life to shape you and make you a better and stronger person, somebody who can break any limits that would seem impossible to reach for others.
Nothing is impossible in this life: NOTHING. If you really want something, you will get it. Remember that.
“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me” — Carol Burnett
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it” — Charles R. Swindon
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence” — Helen Keller
“Don’t count the days, make the days count” — Mohamed Ali
“If you are going through hell, keep going, never, never, never give up” — Winston Churchill
Dessert is a happy food, and they can enlighten anyone’s mood and bring a smile to the face.
Eating excessive volumes of sweets is not good for our health. It can potentially lead to a range of health issues in the future. It doesn’t mean that they can’t be enjoyed in moderation. Take a bite of your favourite chocolate or ice cream.
Eating in moderation is not bad, and we can allow ourselves to have it at least once a week. Don’t deprive yourself, instead reward yourself with it occasionally.
“Absolutely eat dessert first. The thing that you want to do the most, do that” — Joss Whedon
Hong Kong Bublewraps in London
Baked Alaska Flambé (on fire)
Camp Fire Dessert in Canada
“Broken Glass” made of Sugar with Raspberry in Australia
Forgetting or forgetfulness can be very scary for some people, especially if it becomes frequent in patients younger than 65. When you live a life plagued with stress your mind starts to give more importance to those things that cause you to worry the most.
You start to forget where you left the keys, the wallet, the pen, etc. But even if the patient is 65 or older when s/he commences to be forgetful, it doesn’t mean s/he has Alzheimer’s Disease. Anxiety and depression can mimic dementia. If you are a young adult, in your twenties or thirties and you are not eating well, you drink alcohol excessively, smoke and don’t exercise regularly, you might experience “forgetfulness due to extreme stress”.
Patients with Alzheimer tend to repeat themselves because they lose their short memory especially in the early stage. They forget recently learned information like dates or events, asking for the same information over and over.
Patients are frequently misdiagnosed in several medical areas, a mental illness is one of them. That is why it is very important to have the right knowledge about it and the most innovated equipment in this age of technology. IQuity is tackling Alzheimer’s biomarkers using the “Machine Learning” (yes, machine learning not learning machine) that uses artificial intelligence.
If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, do not hesitate to consult with your doctor as soon as possible.
Remember that prevention is the key for a healthier, happier and longer life — Dr. Martha A. Castro N., MD