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Clinical Corner: Fear Response

Fear Response

The fear response is a complex physiological and psychological reaction to a perceived threat or danger. It involves a coordinated response from various parts of the body and brain. Here are some of the components that make up the fear response:

Perception of threat: 

The fear response begins with the perception of a potential threat. This can come from an external source, such as a loud noise or a dangerous animal, or from an internal source, such as a negative thought or memory.

Activation of the sympathetic nervous system: 

When a threat is perceived, the body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated, which triggers the release of adrenaline and other stress hormones into the bloodstream. This prepares the body for action, such as fight or flight.

Increased heart rate and respiration: 

The release of adrenaline and other stress hormones causes an increase in heart rate and respiration, which allows the body to deliver more oxygen to the muscles and brain.

Constriction of blood vessels: 

The sympathetic nervous system also causes the blood vessels to constrict, which redirects blood flow to the vital organs and muscles.

Heightened sensory awareness: 

The fear response can also enhance sensory awareness, allowing a person to better detect potential threats.

Emotional response: 

The fear response is often accompanied by a strong emotional reaction, such as anxiety, panic, or terror.

Activation of the amygdala: 

The amygdala, a small almond-shaped structure in the brain, plays a key role in the fear response. It processes incoming sensory information and sends signals to other parts of the brain to trigger the appropriate response.

Types of Fear

There are many different types of fear, and they can be classified in various ways. Here are some of the most common types of fear:

Specific phobias: 

These are intense and irrational fears of specific objects or situations, such as heights, spiders, or flying.

Social anxiety: 

This is a fear of social situations, such as public speaking or meeting new people.

Panic disorder: 

This is characterized by sudden and intense attacks of fear or panic, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as sweating, shaking, and heart palpitations.

Generalized anxiety disorder: 

This is a chronic and excessive worry or fear about a variety of everyday situations.

Fear based on past experiences:

This can occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, and is characterized by intrusive memories, avoidance of triggers, and heightened arousal.

Existential fear: 

This is a fear of death, meaninglessness, or the unknown.

Fear of failure: 

This is a fear of not succeeding or not living up to one’s own or others’ expectations.

Fear of rejection: 

This is a fear of being rejected, criticized, or judged by others.

Fear of the unknown:

This is a fear of uncertainty or the unknown, such as the future or new experiences.

Therapeutic Approach

Essential oils can be used to reduce the stages of the fear response. This approach reduces tension in the body, brings emotional and mental stability, and deepens sleep including processing that happens during dreaming. Reducing the fear triggers increases cognitive function while improving a sense of well-being.

Therapeutic Goals:

Decrease the initial emotional response to fear stimuli:

This is done with the use of the essential oil Benzoin which creates space for one to process the situation which allows for different responses to evolve.

Decrease agitation in the amygdala:

The use of the essential oil Bacopa helps to undo the emotional imprints from the past which allows for a more “present” response.

Reduction of tension in the smooth muscle of the gut, fatigue in the cardiac muscle, and hyper reactivity of the adrenals:

Deepening the breath, reducing tension in the spine, and calming the body are all targets in this phase of treatment which is done with the essential oil known as Inula.

Treatment of all nine types of fear responses:

This aspect targets all nine aspects since there is significant overlapping of symptoms and tendencies. Blends have been developed to reduce the agitation in the body’s systems which are inhaled sequentially to produce a deep level of relaxation. Sleep is usually induced by this process which allows for a “brain reboot” producing relief from the triggers which induce the fear response.