Fear can be described as an unpalatable feeling initiated by the perception of harm, either real or imagined. It can also be described as an uncomfortable emotional situation caused by perceived danger, evil impulse, and distress.
Everyone experiences fear daily, it is one of the emotions our body is hotwired to feel in response to situations that poses threat to us. Common triggers for fear can be height, flying, darkness, snakes (basically almost all wild animals can trigger fear in us), social interaction, rejection, life-threatening situations.
Naturally fear is an instinctive and reflexive emotion, other causes of fear are learning from life experience e.g. fear of fire after being burnt once or twice, fear of a bully, or fear of electric shock. The brain is the organ of the body that helps to subconsciously decides if fear is the appropriate emotion for a particular situation.
As soon as you recognize fear, each amygdalin located close to the hippocampus in the frontal portion of the temporal lobe and enables us to perceive fear by alerting the nervous system which sets the body’s fear response in motion. Although fear is identified mainly as a negative emotion, yet there are many benefits associated with experiencing fear:
- Fear helps us to identify a harmful situation. The hippocampus which is where memories are stored in the brain can send a signal to the amygdalin if it perceives a similar situation to an incident that occurred in the past and caused harm to the host. A triggered fear response helps to avoid or prepare for such a situation.
- Fear helps you to lose weight. According to Dr. Richard Mackenzie, a metabolism specialist at the University of West Minister, he discovered that producing short bursts of intense stress or in this case, fear helps to lower the appetite and helps to increase the body metabolic rate and ultimately burn a higher level of body calorie.
- Fear helps to temporarily boost the body’s immune system
- Fear helps you manage stress and relaxes you
- Fear keeps us focused and concentrated and prevents us from taking some very important things for granted like personal hygiene and money.
- Fear is fun and exciting to feel if felt in the right dosage.
Negative effects of fear
- Fear increases stress levels in the body and causes kidney damage which in turn causes drowsiness and fatigue, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, nausea, and insomnia.
- Fear can cause cardiovascular damage by inducing high blood pressure which contributes to heart diseases or heart failure and an increased risk of coronary events.
- Fear increases psychological stress which is a major cause of ulcer because stress increases the production of stomach acid in the stomach
- Fear weakens our immune system and causes gastrointestinal problems and cardiovascular damage such as irritable bowel syndrome and decreased fertility in men. It can also lead to accelerated aging and premature death.
- Fear triggers a flight or fight response and releases a flood of chemical hormones like adrenaline into the system. It increases pulse and breathing rate and reduces oxygen supply to the brain.
- Fear is also known to cause depression and anxiety disorder.
CHRONIC FEAR: chronic fear is a common psychological disorder that involves incessant and constant fear which induces nervousness, worry, tension. Effects of chronic fear include mood swings, compulsive thoughts, dissociation from self, and phobic anxiety. Symptoms that are most likely portrayed by a person experiencing chronic fear includes:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Impaired cognitive functions of the brain
A lot of therapies are available for people experiencing chronic fear such as psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, etc.
Natural ways to deal with fear
- Shift your focus on positive elements in your daily life and people that make you happy
- Go for a walk or run and do more physical exercise
- Take prescription medication to help handle fear better
- Seek professional help from therapists e.g. psychotherapists
- Socialize more and form relationships with people around you.
- Talk about what triggers fear in you with friends, close relations, and therapists
- Visualize a happy place
- Try deep breathing exercises especially when you are having a panic attack.
Fear can be a very tricky emotion; it is experienced in our mind but it can have a strong physical effect on our body. Therapies help to better control and manage fear. Fear cannot be gotten rid of as it is an integral part of our daily lives. We must embrace our fears, only then can we face them and reduce their harmful effect on our body.