Access ChARM Patient Portal Account

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in anxiety

b2ap3_thumbnail_lotus-2436937_1920.jpgRegardless of who you are, where you live, or what you do, chances are you’ve experienced the stress and anxiety life can bring. The fact of the matter is, we live in uncertain times. As a human species, we always have. Intellectually we know there are no guarantees that come with being alive. Our evolutionary development demands that we stay alert to threats and potential danger so that we can stay alive. While we no longer find ourselves on the look-out for the proverbial lion outside the cave door, potential threats and turmoil abound, for some of us more than others. This can leave us feeling stressed, anxious, uncertain, and vulnerable.

Every day we absorb, integrate, and react to countless stressful stimuli from our external environment as well as the emotions and thoughts that these stimuli bring up within ourselves. Our brains have literally been designed to scan for these stimuli and attach emotion and memory to them (termed the negativity bias) (1). In this sometimes constant state of vigilance, we may find ourselves further and further away from a state of calm, a state of peace. This distancing from inner peace can lead to increased chronic stress and multiple stress related illnesses (2). Now we have added another layer of dis-ease to our uncertain lives.

And yet, amidst all of this turmoil, we live, we trust, we love, we look forward to tomorrow. How is it that we hold these two dichotomies within the same brain, the same heart, the same spirit? This is the essence of being human. It is in human vulnerability that we often locate both our desire for and our capacity to experience the state of peace which allows us to trust, to love, to find the meaning and purpose that see us through to tomorrow. And these potentials exist within each and every one of us. They are not mysterious or magical, they are the result of the intermingling and reorganization of the myriad functions of the human brain (3). This physiological fact, however, does not diminish the beauty and freedom experienced with unlocking these potentials. We all have access to these resources, sometimes we just need the guidance and support of others to nudge open the door within ourselves behind which they are waiting.

So how do we nudge this door within ourselves open? One inch at a time. The field of neuroplasticity has shown us we can “turn down” the negativity bias wired into our brains through evolution and “turn up” our capacity to scan and experience beauty, contentment, and peace (1). Doing this, however, takes a dedicated practice which guides us to a state of inner awareness, then gently turns this inner awareness to a more active state of focused attention to the experience of peace. This quite literally changes the activity of the brain biochemically and energetically, priming us to absorb and experience calm peacefulness. From this state we can access our own wisdom, our purpose in life, softening the vulnerability of uncertainty (4).

We can exist in peace, even in the tumultuous world in which we live. But this is a practice. And as in any practice, we need guidance and support. Join me at Dr. Nielsen’s office for one or both of these offerings as we explore the human potentials of peace, wisdom, purpose, and oneness through the practice of Clinical Meditation and Imagery.

Four-week session: When: Monday evenings November 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th, 2017, 6:30pm.
$140. Pre-registration required.

Drop-In sessions: When: first and third Tuesdays of each month** starting September 5th 2017, 6:30pm.
$15 drop-in fee. No registration required.
**please note: October 2017 offerings will be the first and fourth Tuesday, Oct. 3rd and 24th, 2017**

1. Hanson, Rick. Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence. Harmony Books, NY, New York.
2. Sapolsky, R. (2004). Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. Sapolosky, NY, New York.
3. Schaub, Bonnie, and Schaub, Richard. (2014). Dante’s Path: Vulnerability and the Spiritual Journey. Florence Press, NY, New York.
4. Austin, James. (2000). Zen and the Brain. First MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

b2ap3_thumbnail_katiewinnell_thumbnail.jpgIf you are interested in learning how I can help you manage chronic illness risk factors and access your own unique lifestyle of wellness through wellness management, health education, health coaching, workshops, and clinical meditation instruction or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact the office of Integrative Medicine - Carin Nielsen, MD at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.

Hormone balance is a common theme in my office.  Today it was a theme of nearly every patient!  Often, patients present to me complaining of fatigue, weight gain, depressed mood, and low stamina, questioning whether an imbalance in hormones is the cause.  They often ask about their thyroid.  Some are interested in Bio-identical Hormone Replacement therapy.  While thyroid hormone and estrogen balance are important factors to consider - it might surprise you to learn that my first step in evaluating hormone balance is always the adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands are walnut-sized glands that sit on top of your kidneys.  The main purpose of your adrenals is to enable your body to respond to stressfrom every possible source. This includes physical stress such as from injury or illness, as well as psychological or emotionsl stress.
In medical school, I learned about the adrenal glands by studying Addison's disease. This is an uncommon disorder, often autoimmune, in which the adrenals lose their ability to function. Those affected by Addison's disease require lifelong daily medication for survival.
Now, I discuss more subtle changes adrenal function with patients every day.  Even more mild changes and adrenal function can have a significant impact on vitality, energy and quality-of-life.  
In addition to regulating sodium and potassium balance in the body,  the adrenal glands create and secrete hormones in response to stress.  When something startles you, adrenaline is released, which creates a "fight or flight" response. You feel suddenly super-charged and ready for quick response.  Cortisol, one of the primary hormones secreted by the adrenals, is important to maintain blood pressure and blood sugar. When you experience injury or inflammation, elevated cortisol secretion protects the body by supplying adequate levels of blood glucose and maintaining blood pressure for healing.
If the adrenals are exposed to chronic inflammation, such as that from chronic illness, poor diet, or prolonged emotional stress, they can have a prolonged output of cortisol and adrenaline. This can cause anxiety, irritability, chronically elevated blood pressure and blood sugars, elevated heart disease risk, increased fat production (especially abdominal fat), and weight gain
Over time, over-active adrenal glands can become exhausted and under-active.  If this happens, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue (especially in the morning), feeling rundown or overwhelmed, craving salty and sweet food, low stamina, difficulties recovering from illness or injury, low blood pressure, or "brain fog".  Adrenal exhaustion may also be associated with the development of auto-immune disease or illness.
Testing adrenal function can be done through blood or saliva.  My test of choice is a saliva test that tests adrenal hormones at four points throughout the day.  It is done at home and shipped directly to the lab company.  I receive results in about 10 days.  This information can then be used to direct therapy to balance adrenal function.  A combination of nutraceuticals, herbs and/or prescription medication can be used to restore under-active adrenal function or calm over-active adrenals.
In addition to adrenal testing and therapy, we offer Mindfulness training (both group and individual) to help control and change response and reaction to stress.  Learning how to better manage and respond to stress is essential to maintain healthy adrenal function and hormone balance.
If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the symptoms above, or if you would like more information, contact our office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.