Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental health condition that can cast long shadows over people’s lives and rob them of their regular life. For those dealing with PTSD and their loved ones, the journey toward recovery can seem like a never-ending task. PTSD Awareness Month is an annual event dedicated to raising awareness about the condition among the general public and helping affected individuals find appropriate and timely help.
In our bid to raise awareness, let us delve into the crucial insights shared in an insightful Huberman Lab podcast episode titled “Erasing Fears and Traumas.” Huberman Lab, started by Dr. Andrew Huberman (Neuroscientist and Assistant Professor at Stanford School of Medicine), dives within the realm of neuroscience to offer a clear understanding of fears and traumas.
In this post, we will dive deeper into the intricacies of trauma and how it manifests in different individuals and discuss the practical tools and strategies suggested in episode #49 (Erasing Fears and Traumas) of the Huberman Podcast. Let’s get started.
Understanding Fear And Traumas
Episode #49, “Erasing Fears and Traumas,” begins with Dr. Huberman explaining the biology of fear and trauma.
Fear is described as a psychological and physiological response to surrounding stimuli. It is closely related but distinct from the phenomenon of stress. Stress is a physiological response accompanied by a quickening of heart rate, shallow breathing, etc. Fear is a response built with both stress and anxiety. Thus, one cannot have fear without having some or all stress elements. However, stress can occur independently without accompanying fears.
According to Huberman, the operational definition of trauma is a fear that gets embedded within the nervous system and shows up whenever triggered. The hallmark of fear and trauma is that the impact can be long-lasting and debilitating, even if the triggering event is small.
Overcoming Fears And Traumas
After explaining the neural mechanisms and biology of fear, Huberman gets to the process of eliminating fears. At the onset, he explains that fears are a historical and adaptive response built within human beings. The reason behind the existence of fear is to have a reflexive threat response to safeguard our lives and protect us from dying. However, in the course of our lives, we start to fear things that aren’t lethal. These fears get ingrained into our nervous system and forbid us from having healthy lifestyles and relationships. These are the fear responses that we need to unlearn in order to get better and improve the quality of our lives.
To reduce these fears, Huberman suggests the following ideas and tools:
1. Think of the stimulus that is attached to your fear. Once you understand your triggers, it is time to overturn their narrative. Simply said, you cannot extinguish fear by directly eliminating your triggers. Instead, what you can do is associate positive responses with your triggers.
2. Huberman also suggests several forms of behavioral therapies that can assist your journey. These include:
- prolonged exposure therapy,
- cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and
- cognitive processing therapy (CPT).
3. Over time, a constant practice of detailed retelling of events that led to the formation of fears and traumas can help reduce their effects. Therefore, regular detailed recounting of details can help uncouple the threat reflex from the stimuli.
4. Another tool suggested by Huberman in “Erasing Fears And Traumas” is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). EDMR helps reduce the activation of the brain’s amygdala. Amygdala is the stress response center of the brain. Reducing the amygdala activity means reducing the intensity of the threat reflex.
PTSD Awareness Month is an annual, monthly event dedicated to imparting information and increasing awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder. We hope the key takeaways from Huberman Lab’s episode 49, “Erasing Fears And Traumas,” will help you understand what fears and traumas are and how they manifest within different individuals.
If you or someone you love is dealing with PTSD, it is essential to find timely professional help. Access to professional help is now easier than ever with the advent of online therapy. To learn more about the top online therapy platforms, click here.
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