Autoimmune diseases occur when the body starts attacking itself. The immune system becomes unable to recognise the difference between viruses, bacteria and other pathogens and its own tissues. Emerging research is now showing a clear link to trauma, exploring the emotional causes of autoimmune diseases.
What are autoimmune diseases?
Autoimmune health conditions are becoming more prevalent. When I was first diagnosed back in the early 2000’s no one really knew what an autoimmune health problem even was. Everywhere I went I encountered blank stares. Today if I mention it, most people invariably know something about autoimmune conditions.
In fact, autoimmune conditions are one of the leading causes of death in young and middle-aged women around the world. They’re also the second most common cause of chronic illness and pain.
To an outside observer a person with an autoimmune condition often appears to be completely healthy. This invisible nature of the illness often leads to people being told that it’s “all in their head” or related to anxiety. I, and many other people, experienced being called a hypochondriac or a ‘malingerer’ by family members who just simply didn’t understand.
Emotional causes of autoimmune diseases.
For a long time doctors were baffled as to why autoimmune diseases developed. Recently published research found links between the development of autoimmune conditions and periods of prolonged stress or trauma. For many people, the development of an autoimmune health condition occurs within a couple of years after the stressor.
The working theory is that prolonged periods of stress and traumatic events change the expression of our genes. Emotional trauma changes the neurochemical signalling in our bodies which create an environment where the body begins to attack itself.
Regaining health after autoimmune disease strikes.
In some ways, it seems as though those naysayers of the past were right, it is at least partially in our head. There is a clear link to emotional causes of autoimmune diseases. The way our brains change and our body responds to trauma set off a cascade within our bodies which lead to illness.
Because knowing this gives us power, we can work to release those fears, understand those traumas and reintegrate our experiences. As the saying goes ‘healthy mind, healthy body’.
Using a range of psychosensory techniques we can decouple of emotions from our experiences. This changes the messages that we send ourselves. Therefore, these techniques can be powerful instruments of change in to our health. By practicing acceptance and learning to be gentle with ourselves we bring the body back towards a state of rest, a place of healing.
The good news is that we are always learning and that neural plasticity means that other parts of the brain can develop connections which create functional recovery. Once the trauma has been processed the brain can begin to ‘rewire’ itself, alleviating the physical, emotional and behavioural problems that were caused by the traumatic event.
As well as autoimmune conditions, survivors of childhood trauma also tend to develop rigid and destructive thought and behavioural patterns. Research is now showing that after specific therapeutic interventions those behaviours and thoughts become more flexible and adaptive. When trauma is reprocessed and dealt with the emotional symptoms are alleviated.
Neurons that fire together, wire together
By regularly carrying out actions and practices that bring calm and comfort to the body, you can train the brain to respond more efficiently and faster. This means that the more you practise various techniques like mindfulness, the more effective they become. Creating new pathways necessitates awareness, mindfulness and acknowledgment of the present. Given time and patience, these new pathways will become stronger than the old patterns, allowing you to move forward in your life.
The brain is designed to be continually creating new pathways and making its communication structures more effective. New pathways can be created in a variety of ways, changes in behavior, environment and neurological processes all create new pathways. The brain is highly resilient and flexible, given the right environment and opportunities it will work to heal itself.
This is a new perspective on health and gives you back the power.To learn more about the program I’m developing to work with people with autoimmune conditions contact me either by email or book a call.