Physical Health Consequences of Nervous System Dysregulation
Decades of research has revealed a powerful brain-body connection that points us towards both root causes of chronic illness and disease as well as the body’s innate power to heal. The powerful adverse effects of loneliness, chronic stress and trauma on our physiological systems have been well documented, and robust literature points us toward opportunities for healing that center on nervous system regulation, social-emotional support and connection. Chronic stress, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and developmental trauma (including insecure attachment) cause myriad physical health consequences including GI dysfunction, immune dysregulation, chronic inflammation, cognitive impairment, sleep disturbances, endocrine imbalances, mast cell activation and more.
Most healthcare settings and treatment plans largely ignore or fail to meaningfully address these root causes and healing pathways. Origins Collaborative Care is changing that.
Signs and Symptoms of a Dysregulated Nervous System:
Possible Mental/Emotional/Psychological Symptoms:
Often feeling “stressed”
Anger, irritability, easily frustrated
Guilt, shame, self-blame (or frequently shaming and blaming others)
Feeling sad or hopeless
Attention difficulties, trouble focusing or following through on tasks
Anxiety and fear or panic
Feeling disconnected, spacey, or numb
Feeling guarded and being closed off from others, relationship problems
Feeling immobilized or frozen
Aggression, rages (road rage, tantrums, etc.)
Sensations of horror, fear, terror, or just chronically ill-at-ease
Emotional reactivity (often disproportionate to the situation)
Highly sensitive and easily hurt
Fears around self worth, worthiness
Feeling isolated and lonely
Harshly critical and judgmental towards self and others
Inability to be still, quiet and at ease
Repetitive thoughts (often worried, resentful, intolerant, negative)
Easily overstimulated in certain environments
Possible Physical Symptoms:
Insomnia, restless sleep, nightmares
Racing heartbeat, changes in blood pressure
Fatigue, energy slumps, exhaustion
Cognitive impairments, brain fog, difficulty concentrating
Edginess and agitation
Neck and back pain, fibromyalgia
Digestive dysfunction and reduced digestive capacity, including: motility issues (constipation and/or diarrhea) increased gas, bloating, cramps, pain (sharp or burning), reflux, impaired absorption, inflammation, food intolerances/allergies.
Perception disorders (tinnitus, hyperacusis, hypersensitivity, blurred vision, etc.)
Hormone dysfunction (increased pre-menstrual symptoms, fluid retention, dizziness, hot flushes, night sweats, blood sugar imbalance, weight gain).
Grinding teeth, clenching jaw
Increased autoimmune conditions (hives, psoriasis, Crohn's, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, etc.)
Decreased immunity and/or immune reactivity
Possible Social Symptoms:
Disrupted attachment, such as pushing away and pulling towards behaviors in relationships
Withdrawing from others
Being overly clingy or needy with others
Irritability in relationships
Poor boundaries and limit setting
Excessive numbing behaviors such as excessive shopping, drinking, TV, social media
Difficulty forming lasting, healthy relationships.
Habits and patterns that are either chaotic (procrastination, disorganization, lateness) or overly rigid (perfectionism, “germ-a-phobe,” needing to have everything “just so.”
Mental roadblocks, fears, and resistance that seem to paralyze you from doing what you want to do
Excessive caregiving and people-pleasing (often to the exclusion of your own needs and preferences).
Unable to speak up and express your feelings or opinions
Overly opinionated and controlling
Feeling insecure, unworthy, unlovable
On the other end of the spectrum, the benefits of having a Regulated Nervous System are vast. We understand that most people with chronic illness are primarily concerned with healing their physical bodies, believing a better state of mental, emotional and spiritual health will follow.
While there’s some truth to this, the reality of our biology is that these things are inextricably linked. The science on this is unequivocal. A flexible, resilient, regulated nervous system is the basis for being in a physical state of health, growth and restoration; they’re synonymous. It just so happens that doing what’s necessary to heal your body will also transform other areas of your life. You don’t have to choose!
If you recognize yourself in any of the mental/emotional/psychological and social symptoms on this list, we invite you to pause and consider what life might be like if your system were in a state of ease, comfort and safety? Can you imagine a life with more peace and tranquility? How might you benefit from having more loving, secure attachments and connections? Do you wish you were more confident, present, loving, patient and compassionate? What would life be like as someone who is vibrantly healthy, empowered, motivated, focused, flexible and capable?
There’s really no limit to what can open up to you on this path. The work isn’t easy or quick… but it’s oh-so-worthwhile. We invite you to contact us for more information about how Origins Collaborative Care PLLC can help you discover the life you so richly deserve.