Getting To Know The Boss – Your Amygdala In Your Brain

June 18, 2017

“Bad News Sells Because The Amygdala Is Always Looking For Something To Fear.” – Peter Diamandis

The amygdala is a group of almond-shaped, small nuclei clusters in the brain’s temporal lobe located at the base. It main functions include processing of emotions and decisions and securing memories. The amygdala is most active during times of aggression or fear and hence they play a part in activation of the fight or flight response of the body.

When the amygdala gets convinced by emotional and environmental stressors of imminent danger, then it triggers panic and anxiety attacks.

Even though the origin of anxiety is in the amygdala, presence of anxiety is not necessarily indicative of any problems with that part of the brain. Discussed below are the indirect and direct effects of the amygdala on the body and associated anxiety reactions.

The Amygdala and Anxiety

Anxiety gets triggered in the following manner:

Anxiety has its roots in certain environmental or emotional trigger such as negative obsessive thoughts or feelings, or something that is heard, smelled, tasted, or seen. These triggers act as a catalyst. Subsequently the amygdala responds to the trigger by getting ready for fight or flight. If the catalyst is an emotional event of the past, then the reaction to it is stronger as compared to other kinds of triggers.

The adrenal glands then release epinephrine chemical into the blood. It may be noted that epinephrine has links with adrenaline which quickens varied body processes. Release of epinephrine is marked by significant rise in blood glucose levels. Such additional blood sugar is then used by muscles to rapidly produce energy.

The heart rate also quickens due to epinephrine, thereby resulting in additional supply of blood across the body for added energy and power.

The body may start shaking; this allows blood to get to the body’s extremities at a faster pace. Increased heart rate causes the lungs to also work more so as to ensure that blood supplied across the body has sufficient levels of blood. Thus, the rate of breathing increases.

Additional blood pumped by the heart which remains unused by the muscles may lead to flushing or red hue of the face, arms, neck, and chest. Increased workload on the lungs and heart may cause aches or pain in the chest.

The amygdala and its varied processes are designed to ensure the safety of the person and avoid danger.

However, regular overreaction by the organ to different catalysts can be regarded as an anxiety disorder.

The amygdala causes the above response and associated symptoms. However, the reasons as to why the organs become excessively active in some individuals than others is still a subject of research. A few risk factors for an overactive amygdala are listed below:

Abnormal physical alterations in the brain due to underlying psychological conditions like bipolarity, anxiety disorders, depression, etc. can increase sensitivity of amygdala and weaken it.

Chemical alterations in brain caused by prolonged exposure to environmental stressors. Anxiety can be inherited. Studies indicate that people with genetic predisposition to anxiety are easily and more likely to suffer from the disorder when exposed to different triggers.

Get To The The Boss… The Amygdala A Little Better Through The Anxiety Guy YouTube Video Below. 

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