What makes some people more prone to wedded bliss or sorrow than others? Researchers at the University of California - Berkeley and Northwestern University have found a major clue in our DNA. A gene involved in the regulation of serotonin can predict how much our emotions affect our relationships, according to a new study that may be the first to link genetics, emotions, and marital satisfaction. The study was conducted at the University of California - Berkeley. The new study links gene variant to our level of marital satisfaction. You can check out the study or its abstract, published online today, October 7, 2013 in the journal Emotion® - American Psychological Association.
For example, if your parents had an unhappy marriage, you may have inherited the gene variations that result in an unhappy marriage, says the new study, according to the October 7, 2013 news release by Yasmin Anwar, "Wedded bliss or blues? UC Berkeley scientists link DNA to marital satisfaction." But will your children also have inherited the genetic variations in their DNA to also have unhappy marriages?
Marital could turn martial when strategies become tactics. It's all about emotional climate being genetically inherited by variations in the DNA based on you inheriting long or short versions of certain genes linked to serotonin. Do you inherit more anger or more humor? A gene involved in the regulation of serotonin can predict how much your emotions affect your relationships.
Attuned or oblivious to the emotional climate in your marriage or your parent's marriage?
“An enduring mystery is, what makes one spouse so attuned to the emotional climate in a marriage, and another so oblivious?” explains UC Berkeley psychologist Robert W. Levenson, senior author of the study, according to the October 7, 2013 news release, Wedded bliss or blues? UC Berkeley scientists link DNA to marital satisfaction. “With these new genetic findings, we now understand much more about what determines just how important emotions are for different people.”
Specifically, researchers found a link between relationship fulfillment and a gene variant, or “allele,” known as 5-HTTLPR
All humans inherit a copy of this gene variant from each parent. Study participants with two short 5-HTTLPR alleles were found to be most unhappy in their marriages when there was a lot of negative emotion, such as anger and contempt, and most happy when there was positive emotion, such as humor and affection. By contrast, those with one or two long alleles were far less bothered by the emotional tenor of their marriages.
“We are always trying to understand the recipe for a good relationship, and emotion keeps coming up as an important ingredient,” said Levenson, who heads up a longitudinal study that has tracked over 150 married couples for more than 20 years.
Are you bothered by the emotional tenor of your marriage?
The new findings don’t mean that couples with different variations of 5-HTTLPR are incompatible, the researchers note. Instead, it suggests that those with two short alleles are likelier to thrive in a good relationship and suffer in a bad one. The results of the study, which looked at the genotypes of more than 100 spouses and observed how they interacted with their partners over time, bore this out, they said.
“Individuals with two short alleles of the gene variant may be like hothouse flowers, blossoming in a marriage when the emotional climate is good and withering when it is bad,” says Claudia M. Haase, in the news release. Haase is assistant professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern University and lead author of the study, which she conducted as a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley. “Conversely, people with one or two long alleles are less sensitive to the emotional climate.”
“Neither of these genetic variants is inherently good or bad,” Haase adds in the news release. “Each has its advantages and disadvantages.” Researchers found that those with one type of gene variant were more vulnerable to the emotional tenor of their marriage.
Participants in the study belong to a group of 156 middle-aged and older couples whose relationships Levenson and fellow researchers have followed since 1989. Every five years, the couples have come to UC Berkeley to report on their marital satisfaction and interact with one another in a lab setting while researchers code their conversations based on facial expressions, body language, tone of voice and topic of discussion.
More recently, 125 of the study participants provided DNA samples, and researchers matched their genotypes with their levels of marital satisfaction and the emotional tenor of their interactions in the lab setting.
For spouses with two short 5-HTTLPR alleles, who made up 17 percent of the spouses studied, researchers found a strong correlation between the emotional tone of their conversations and how they felt about their marriage. For the 83 percent of spouses with one or two long alleles, on the other hand, the emotional quality of their discussions bore little or no relation to their marital satisfaction over the next decade.
The link between genes, emotion and marital satisfaction was particularly pronounced for older adults. “One explanation for this latter finding is that in late life – just as in early childhood – we are maximally susceptible to the influences of our genes,” Levenson explains in the news release.
How short is your 5-HTT gene causing your chronic anxiety?
Some people get asked that question when post-partum agoraphobia, phobias, or chronic anxiety rears up after stressful events, including post traumatic stress issues. Is your problem is post partum anxiety or menopause? Are you concerned about hormonal imbalances on top of genetic predisposition, such as a short 5-HTT gene or defects in your autonomic nervous system inherited at birth?
Is chronic anxiety compounded by your environment and trauma from physical, emotional, or environmental stress, or even a slight head injury years ago? Are you working on the physiological, nutritional, and genetic causes of what is keeping you bound to your home?
One solution for some people is to avoid eating fats and carbs together. Another individual might consider dietary fat to calm the hormone leptin, which in turn helps to curb hunger.
Another individual eats more fiber and vegetables, including greens such as kale in balanced amounts to curb overeating. But can nutrition really help calm the chronically anxious person going through hormonal changes like recent child birth or even menopause?
First you might want to have your health care team experts take a look at your 5-HTT gene to see whether you've inherited a short or long version and whether or not you're predisposed to chronic anxiety.
What's the 5-HTT gene got to do with agoraphobia or anxiety? How limited are future career plans when you are trapped at home for many years with agoraphobia—the fear of panicking in unfamiliar spaces?
Research at the Stoneybrook University in New York revealed that if you inherit a short version of the gene called 5-HTT, you’re more likely to be predisposed to experiencing anxiety and fear or to become depressed. It could happen after stress or a trauma, or from hormonal changes, such as the weeks following childbirth. And it could last for years.
Or a person could develop "white outs" while riding the bus. Chronic anxiety with tremors when arriving at work in the morning could follow you the rest of the morning.
Other studies reveal that you also may be sensitive to carbon dioxide in the air, feeling panicky when the there’s five percent carbon dioxide in the air. For people without a genetic sensitivity, the air in your environment would have to reach seven percent carbon dioxide before you’d feel anxious.
Tailoring nutrition to your social anxiety
If you’re chronically anxious, have panic disorder or have advanced to agoraphobia, and are afraid of leaving your home or other familiar surroundings, if you can’t drive, ride in a bus without getting a white-out, or walk more than a few feet from your home without anxiety causing you to return home, tailoring your nutrition may be of help.
You may not even feel depressed or be aware of any other feeling but a physical sense of dread, trembling, or numbness in your elbow. Tailoring nutrition to anxiety comes after a thorough physical exam ruling out thyroid issues, tumors, or other causes of anxiety that's not caused by a progressive problem. Is your anxiety genetic when similar types of stress causes physical symptoms in one person but not in someone else?
When you travel, do you feel anxiety or get stressed out from a two-hour train ride? Do you feel too nervous to learn to drive?
You may panic, feel dizzy, become short of breath, hyperventilate, and go through the fight or flight syndrome. You may have adverse reactions to stress, medicines, anesthesia, or foods. You could become allergic or sensitive to loud sound effects in movie theaters, have a fear of bus travel beyond a certain point, or have white-outs while traveling, perhaps developing more frequent migraines.
You crave healing sounds in music that make you feel relaxed. Perhaps you are experiencing post traumatic stress disorder. If you don’t have agoraphobia, perhaps it is sociophobia that keeps you away from opportunities to meet people and make friends.
Or your stress may be from a physical condition that worsens when you talk on the phone or meet new people and have to speak in public. Or your panic may increase when you are in a group and fear that you’re being singled out, judged, or discriminated against.
Sometimes you develop an increasing sensitivity to dental anesthetics. For example, you react immediately with a panic attack when given a dental injection, but can be calm when the same minor dental work, such as a deep cleaning on one tooth, is done without anesthesia.
Some people get so anxious during a driving test they never try again. Is it genetic, such as an over-aroused nervous system that panics on tests other people get through by working through their anxiety? You may have a gene for happiness and a gene for anxiety but not for sadness. Check out how you react to various issues in life from childbirth to driving, from working at home to working in an office with lots of people contact versus working alone.
Why do you feel anxious, get panic attacks, or become homebound for decades with agoraphobia? Hyperactivity in the brain’s fear center due to the fact that you’ve inherited a short instead of a long 5-HTT gene could be the cause. The brain’s fear center is connected to the amygdala and hippocampus.
Perhaps you have a short 5-HTT gene. Maybe you can’t travel without become anxious, stressed, or panicked. Maybe you get headaches from travel or have a low stress level. Maybe you panic when you laugh or are in any way emotionally stimulated by sound, touch, sight, scent, or experience.
You may not be able to sit in a movie theater or view a play without feeling anxious from the loud sound effects or the flashing lights. You look for calming experiences. The problem is you have electrical activity in your brain.
The electrical activity is in motion all the time, even when nothing should cause fear—such as when you laugh or make love. You overreact to anything that stimulates that electrical center in your brain’s fear center. It doesn’t have to be anything that would cause fear to people who have inherited a long copy of the 5-HTT gene.
What if the world is divided between calm people with a long 5-HTT gene and anxious individuals with a short 5-HTT gene? People with a short 5-HTT gene live with constant electrical activity in their brain’s fear center.
You may feel either anxiety or depression if you have a short 5-HTT gene. Look up the article reporting a study that links depression to an overactive fear center in the brain titled, “Bound for Gloom and Doom,” Proceedings of the National Academy or Sciences, October 11, 2006. You can find this online at ScienceNOW Daily News. Online, check out ScienceNOW’s search engine.
If left untreated, agoraphobia can burn itself out with moderate exercise, but it may take years. You need to study how your genes react to various treatments so that you don’t become dependent upon the treatment and not find the cause.
Always first ask your doctor whether you're healthy enough to try out vitamins and supplements. What worked for one person may be similar or very different from what will work for you. Be sure to find out how your genes react to the buildup of certain vitamins or minerals from food supplements.
Consider taking a genetic test for adverse reactions to vitamins or other consumable items. Or if you don't want to spend any money for a test that may or may not work correctly yet, as the science is in its infancy, try out one vitamin or nutrient at a time in small amounts until you know how you react to tiny amounts before you consume the whole capsule.
Be warned that you could be allergic to any amount and have a shock reaction to anything you eat, including vitamins that come from a bottle. So if you do test yourself, start with whole foods, natural vitamins and not synthetic types.
Your doctor will tell you whether you are healthy enough to try out any vitamins or minerals that come from a bottle. Ask the doctor to tell you what you might expect such as how a certain vitamin or supplement will affect your body. For example, ask whether the vitamin or supplement you take will overstimulate your thyroid?
Are certain B complex vitamins you take over-stimulating your thyroid? Know your body type, metabolism, and genetic predispositions. Find out how fast or slow your body builds up and metabolizes vitamins, foods, and supplements in ways that might build up in your body to over stimulate glands or organs.
Are there toxic substances in the water you’re drinking? Are you using a water distiller that takes out all the magnesium and calcium, and you aren’t replacing those minerals in your food supplements so your body can function properly? What trace minerals are you taking?
Who else in your family had anxiety problems, migraines, or other inherited issues? Did a parent smoke, drink too much caffeine or alcohol, or take any medicines or supplements during pregnancy that might have influenced your autonomic nervous system’s response to stress or other perceived changes?
When you eat fruit or sugary foods, is there a rush of insulin and adrenalin that makes you tremble with anxiety? Are the sugars in your diet worsening chronic gum disease by keeping your blood glucose level too high?
Anaerobic bacteria under the gums thrive on excess sugar and yeast in your blood. Have you looked at your reactions to food that is a combination of protein and good oils such as extra virgin olive oil and Omega 3 fish oils?
Have you discussed with your health professional whether certain foods “hit you like a bomb” and cause anxiety or other symptoms of blood sugar changes? Agoraphobia has a female-to-male ratio of 2-3:1. Social phobia is more common in females, but more males ask for treatment due to the social pressures on men to earn an income throughout adult life. Talk with health professionals that specialize in these symptoms.
Is it metabolic syndrome for you or something else? Do you have the short 5-HTT gene? Or is another part of your body giving you an important message to heed? Find out how your genes process what enters your body and how your genes and brain electro-chemistry react to stress. Stress is rapid change. Does food hit you like a bomb?
Persons who are biologically prone to agoraphobia and panic under the slightest stress may be born with shy, over-aroused dominant introverted feeling) nervous systems. They often secrete a high level of catecholamines.
Their adrenaline level is frequently at a higher base level than in the average or naturally calm person. They secrete much more insulin into their blood than people who are literally immune from anxiety attacks.
On top of this, she had insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and a wide waist line with relatively narrow hips, although she had a slim, small-boned, ectomorphic body with a weight under 112 pounds after the birth of her second child. She consumed entire cheesecakes and pound boxes of chocolate with no weight gain. Forty-five years later, she weighs 125 pounds.
Sometimes the left hemisphere of the brain (high verbal intelligence) begins to fire at a different rate, faster or slower, than the right hemisphere (visual art and emotion). When the two hemispheres get out of sync, panic and shaking could occur at any time of the night or day, when you laugh or sleep, walk through the street or sit in a chair.
Stretching from the Yoga positions calms some people so that they can could relax and enjoy the day's events. Numerous people have an avoidant/dependent personality type. Some may withdraw from direct people contact and became reclusive in order to stop being emotionally, a "hot reactor."
An ‘invisible’ hot reactor reacts to the slightest stress not by outward anger, but inwardly and silently, by a dramatically increased blood pressure, pulse rate, and sudden, gripping fear to people and slight mental stress, even though there is no facial expression change or bodily motion to show what's narrowing or calcifying from sugar (and insulin's overabundance to sugar) on the inside.
Others may develop the protruding pot belly of hyperinsulinism--on the thin, small-boned frame of an average-height woman. Hyperinsulinism is also called metabolic disease. In her situation, it combined with agoraphobia, panic disorder, chronic anxiety and sociophobia—fear of people, loud sounds, and ringing telephones. In her situation, outwardly, emotion is introverted, so nobody can see what you're feeling on the inside.
Sometimes closet extroverts forced to act like introverts to please introverted family members in power can help to push a genetically prone person into panic disorder. Usually, some physical stress does it, such as childbirth, surgery, or even getting married or a first job and moving out of the family.
And still others may have had to change diets to healing foods that would not further stimulate the thyroid, as sugar and simple carbohydrates were doing when they quickly turned to sugar as soon as they reached that individual's bloodstream. An overstimulated thyroid, perhaps overstimulated by sugar, too many carbohydrates, too many B vitamins, too much tofu or soy and other items that overstimulate the thyroid also may cause the shakes and anxiety. Examples of sugary drinks overstimulating the thyroid were fruit juice, white rice, bran muffins, and bagels.
As a biological introvert, some individuals are sensitive to people's actions, noise, intrusions, and words. For others, their whole body might over react to any stress in the environment, until the person has to back off and become housebound. The phone would ring and some individual's pulse and pressure would hit the ceiling.
Some people have been conditioned from early childhood that when the phone rang it usually was a relative from out of town announcing another funeral of another older extended family member. So the phone ringing signified loss.
Others can't sit in cinema theaters as the sounds effects are so loud that they cause panic attacks. The loud effects overwhelmed such people's nervous system and caused panic tremors that subsided when the film or loud music had finished. Gentle string and harp music may calmed such individuals, especially Baroque music of the 17th century and new age meditation music.
Others may not answer the phone in fear of going into hyperventilation syndrome and breathing too fast in terror at the voice on the other end. As part of socio-phobia, some people expend too much energy in response to an ounce of provocation. The fear is of everything that could elicit a physiological response. Belly dance music for others, if not loud, created a feeling of well-being and prayer. And still others needed slow beats in music to calm.
To counteract a weak calming branch, some people stretch slowly with Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or slow, easy Yoga exercises, to get the cooler and calmer. Others noticed that at the height of a panic attack, going into a slow stretch position to stretch muscles slowly a little might result in a gradual sense of calm.
Qi Gong and Tai Chi helped improve balance for some people. Other people may have had problems keeping balanced when walking, even when young, and during the post-partum phase when agoraphobia and panic disorder can hit hard, keeping some people housebound. The question is whether the problem is focused in one's inner ear balancing mechanism?
And still other individuals realize that the amounts of vitamin B complex taken may stimulate a large, fast thyroid so much that the anxiety increased even more. Vitamin B (complex) stimulates the thyroid. In some people’s body, particular genes allowe the vitamin to over-stimulate her thyroid because of sensitivity to various types of vitamin B.
For example, what if a person happens to be a slow oxidizer, and the vitamin B the person takes thinking it would calm actually remained in the person's body and bloodstream far longer than it would be in the body of a fast oxidizer, thereby stimulating her thyroid more than it would in the body of a fast oxidizer? In that person’s body, the excess vitamin would be removed more quickly.
That’s why it’s important to find out how your genes turn on and off in reaction to food and food supplements and how these vitamins affect other parts of your body. It’s all about how your genes respond to food, medicine, or environment.
When some people walk for a half hour or more a day in small, 10 minute walking sessions, the anxiety might fade. A feeling of sending out waves of love to one's worst enemy can take over the body and mind. For others a dominant introverted feeling personality type might emphasize values. If this sounds like you, ask yourself: Is this issue worth weakening my heart's pacemaker by an adrenaline bath? The answer was always, of course not. For some people, music becomes a healing tone if the music is slow and calming or uplifting in tone.
The type of music affected her brain’s fear or calming center and healed my body to the point of a feeling of well-being instead of anxiety. Harp music, calming sting music, and even slow, new age music relaxed her. Belly dance music and music of India allowed her to stretch and do her Tai-Chi exercises to the music as well as Yoga-type stretches. From there, other people move to high-energy belly dancing alone in a room, stretching out arms in a type of dance-prayer-tai-chi and yoga stretch and moving arms and shoulders or feet in a folk or tribal dance.
When done in short spans, not long, exhausting hip-drops, the exercise may calm some people, and a feeling of well-being might arise along with stress reduction. Nutrition played a part. The goal also is to balance magnesium and calcium to feel relaxed. One's body may need to understand the feeling value of serenity and calmness at the molecular level as well.
The best and healthiest answers may involve asking a value question, “is it worth it?” The term “worth it” meant asking whether the solution, need, benefit, or answer had been worth it to health in the long run
Gentle chair yoga and later stretching on a yoga mat may help in youth to provide a link to learning to relax by stretching until calm. Listening to calming music or chanting became a relaxing experience during a panic episode. For others, some say yoga wrecked their body. And still others swear by Tai Chi or Qi Gong for healing exercises for relaxation and meditation.
Others enjoy the calming, ethnic or meditative new age music such as Indian music for relaxation. For some, their whole body would physiologically react to the beat of the music. The slow beats, precisely music of 30-60 beats per minute might bring an over-aroused nervous system down to a relaxed normal feeling.
Music may distract some people's brains from firing off anxiety neurons. The right hemisphere of someone's brain might be shooting off energy from neurons a lot faster that the left hemisphere of the person's brain. Both hemispheres should have been working together in balance at more or less the same rate.
Was this type of imbalance one cause of someone's chronic anxiety, panic attacks, and ultimately being housebound with agoraphobia (literally, fear of the outdoors)? Others turn to Ayurvedic medical books or traditional Chinese medicine for alternative choices in their search for kind solace. Some try Pilates, Yoga, Qi Gong, a relaxing form of Tai Chi for meditation and balance.
Stretching Away the Panic Attacks
To get rid of the panic attack, some sit in a half lotus position. For hyperventilation syndrome, she would breathe into a brown paper bag to increase the carbon dioxide. The panic may be caused by a sensitivity to carbon dioxide in the room air or from taking a carbon-based dental anesthetic. Check into this theory of sensitivity to carbon dioxide that might causes a type of acidosis in the brain. People with anxiety chronic issues may be more sensitive than others to carbon dioxide in the air or in medicines.
Carbon dioxide may cause sensitive people with panic disorder to have a panic attack from breathing carbon dioxide if the carbon dioxide in a crowded or unventilated room grows to five percent. Typical people won’t feel symptoms until the carbon dioxide in a room grows to seven percent. To help herself, Xyz would hold her left foot firmly and place her left foot and heel against her right middle thigh near the knee while stretching her arms downward.
Some people use stretching to lessen or focus a panic attack in another place in the body. For example, for some, the position of a foot resting against one's inner thigh might became the most calming stretch position. For others, a position might be to gently stretched arm muscles and the rest of one's leg muscles. Then the person may allow his or her forearm to relax and rest against a raised knee. Others may relax by sitting for two minutes in this posture. It's an individual preferences. Different exercises may work for various people.
For some people, the weight of a forearm gradually lowered a knee. By the time the knee was lowered as far as it needed to go, the person might have become
calmer. Simultaneous slow, but not deep breathing might help others. Deep breathing may produce dizziness and hyperventilation syndrome in some people. For still others, Yoga, Tai chi, and Qi gong exercises may also helped their inner ear problems. It various in people. Some people have a damaged inner ear from a head injury banging against a window in a car accident when the car is hit from behind.
For some, after the ear injuries heal, the person might have vertigo attacks whenever the individual is stressed. The stretching and movement of yoga as a series of postures may help some regain more balance. For others, their brain might compensate for the damaged inner ear, and the vertigo and ear problems lessen. Some are helped and some made worse by side bend Yoga exercise. Others learn to stretch some panic away. And still others prefer slow breathing exercises to music with the breathing timed by words or music chords.
Some people with chronic anxiety are on a vitamin regimen, healthier foods, and certain trace minerals and cod liver oil, depending upon their health condition and what is compatible with their individual health requirements. What helps some people with chronic anxiety or agoraphobia besides the nutrition and certain exercises such as stretching and relaxation might be ambient music in the background, again keeping to 60 or less beats per minute. What also works well is the music CD, Sheltering Stones, by Richard Searles (Earth Dance Music, Sherman Oaks, CA).
Instrumentals with gentle voice sounds as in Mystic Voyage, from the CD Sheltering Stones, is a calming. It's a Celtic music work of plucked strings and soft voices that helps listeners to visualize misty and mystic mornings at Big Sur in California. Another helpful recording for relaxation is Michael Rowland's Fairy Ring suite, with information and downloads available online.
To counteract a weak calming branch, some people's bodies react to the tempo of the music. If a music piece is only 60 beats a minute with a metronome, (or less) the human body responds to that beat and calms down to a feeling of relaxation.
Your body eventually may move in sync with the music beats. That’s why if you feel anxiety, choose slow music. Breathe from your abdomen or diaphragm and breathe as slowly as is comfortable. It may work for some people. Most people’s entire bodies, physiologically react to the beat of music. The slow beats, precisely music of 60 beats per minute or less, may calm anyone to a relaxed normal feeling. The wrong type of music (that’s wrong for your brain) would make you feel uneasy or anxious. Slow harp music works well.
Slow, dreamy, classical string and brass music of the 17th century convey calming tones may feel best for you. Also what works is ambient music for stress-reduction, and relaxing music made for meditation. When calm, brains with anxiety genes may also react well to certain forms of belly dance or tribal dance music with a slow beat to stretch to, and not the constant drumming.
What you listen to affects your heartbeat. So you don’t want a person with a fast heart beat to listen to rapid drumming music such as found in some belly dance solos.
The focus of each movement emphasized keeping your individual balance. With certain world music themes, doing the belly dance hip-drop might help you focus on losing the stress. Others prefer healing slow harp music to do tai chi or chair yoga. Then there's always grounding and earthing, which means standing barefoot on concrete, dirt, or grass. It doesn't work on vinyl or wood floors. Check out the YouTube video site, "Dr. Stephen Sinatra talks about Bioenergetics, Earthing and grounding." The point is to customize your nutrition and combine it with relaxing music and light exercise tailored just for you. What food, activity, and music category makes you feel better?