Welcome to limbic.systems! The name makes reference to the part of our brains devoted to emotional processing. Every decision we make, even how many times we blink our eyes, is filtered through our limbic system. From the perspective of evolution, our limbic system functions to help us survive. It is constantly striving to keep us informed about the nature of a situation. Our past experiences are one way it helps us decide on what to do in a situation. It creates new neural connections to help us remember how to feel when a particular event occurs.
Being human is not easy. Our prefrontal cortex sets us apart from other animals and allows us to think and rethink past events and worry about things that might happen. The chemical chain of events that follows is what we call a good or bad feeling. Since good feelings do not bring us to therapy, we will look at the unpleasant feelings such as panic attacks which frequently make us feel as though we are having a heart attack. They can be terrifying because they over activate our sympathetic nervous systems, (fight, flight, or freeze), the physical response typically reserved for extreme danger. Therapy attempts to reduce the anxious feelings by shifting our bodies from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system, (the calm state). Slow deep breathing is one of the best ways to calm and empower ourselves. In most cases we do not need to rely on prescription drugs to calm our bodies and minds.
Therapy helps us realize that we can face discomfort in a safe environment and make it comfortable. In doing so, we reroute our neural circuitry and generate a more desirable response to an old situation. Neuroplasticity is the name given to the process of generating new neural pathways. We are capable of neuroplasticity until the day we die.