For FND (Functional neurological disorder) awareness I thought it would be interesting to study a theory of stress because FND can be manifest from psychological and physical stress. I have chosen to look at Hans Selyes’ GAS theory. The GAS theory has a strong case for its relationship to physical illness, bringing the importance of stress effect on the physiological responses and connecting these reactions to the development of illness. (Brannon, & Feist, 2010).
General Adaptation Syndrome
The first part is the Alarm reaction. During the alarm reaction, The body goes into defence against a stressor which is mobilised through the activation of the sympathetic nervous system.
The second part is the resistance stage where the human organism adapts to the stressor. The length of this stage depends on the severity of the stressor and the adaptive. If the organism can adapt, the resistance will continue for a long time.
An outward appearance will seem normal but physiologically the body’s internal functioning is slowing down. Continuing stress will cause neurological and hormonal changes.
The final part is the exhaustion stage. In the end, the ability to resist the stressor is depleted, and a breakdown occurs which can lead to illness. Exhaustion is characterised by activation of the parasympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system. The Parasympathetic is at an abnormally low level, causing a person to become more exhausted.
Let me tell you my story to show the extent of stress in my life so far.
The first eight months of my life were spent in an overcrowded orphanage where babies were left in their own faeces with flies crawling all over them. I lost my primary love and a sense of who I was as an adoptee. Because of my experience, I believe that when mental health is compromised by trauma in the early stages of life it can develop into a chronic illness.
Being adopted into an abusive childhood resulted in my lupus diagnosis, followed by being flown to a hospital to drain the fluid around the heart. My adopted mother put me into a child mental institute, believing I was capable of murdering the family and soon after I went to my new foster family only to be shipped off to boarding school. I had no mental or emotional support.
My Lupus diagnosis developed to stage four, where my kidneys were attacked, and I was put on twelve rounds of chemo to treat it. Followed by open-heart surgery to replace the attacked valves.
About a year later I suffered a stroke resulting in left side weakness. I chose to do rehab where I thought I would have family support to recover. Then in the next four years, I had a Hepatitis flare while living in the UV (Urban Vision) community, a total hysterectomy and was diagnosed with complex PTSD and FND whilst writing my autobiography.
Functional Neurological Disorder
FND describes neurological symptoms like limb weakness, tremor, numbness or blackouts, related to the movement and sensation parts of the nervous system. FND is a “software” issue of the brain, not the hardware (as in stroke or MS), and can cause day to day difficulties such as sensory sensitivity that can manifest as seizures.
From reading this blog, I hope more of you will understand that FND is not “in our heads” it is a real physical illness that can be caused by stress. FND impairs our sensory endurance, the body freezing or convulsing and causes body and mind fatigue.
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system makes up part of the autonomic nervous system, also known as the involuntary nervous system. … The sympathetic nervous system directs the body’s rapid involuntary response to dangerous or stressful situations. (Lanese & Dutfield, 2022)
Parasympathetic nervous system
The parasympathetic nervous system is a subdivision of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which regulates bodily functions which are outside of voluntary control, therefore being automatic. … The parasympathetic nervous system leads to decreased arousal. (Guy-Evans, & Mcleod, 2021).
Brannon, L., & Feist, J. (2010). Defining, measuring and managing stress. In Health psychology: An introduction to behaviour and health (7th ed., pp. 93–131). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.