People who have suffered from traumatic life experiences go through a wide range of emotions throughout their lives and the majority of these emotions are deleterious to the person’s mental and physical health. Specifically, these individuals go through fear via re-experiencing their traumatic life experience or sadness through the victimization process they are likely to undergo. Emotions have four major components including feelings, bodily arousal, sense of purpose, and social-expressive. Recognizing these negative emotions will assist in alleviating the research participants’ aversive symptoms for the treatment of their trauma spectrum disorder. Fear and sadness can have both positive and negative consequences and managing these emotions is a challenging but worthwhile endeavor.
The four basic components of fear and sadness include feelings, bodily arousal, sense of purpose, and social expressive components. The bodily arousal includes biological aspects such as neural circuits and hormonal responses to fear and sadness inducing situations. The amygdala and the prefrontal cortex of the brain heavily influence fear processing and people with damage to these areas of the brain have displayed marginalized or the absence of fear responses. Specifically, the neural pathway of fear occurs in the lateral amygdala, to the central nucleus of the amygdala, then to areas of the brain that process and control defensive behavior via the autonomic and endocrine responses. Colloquially called the fight or flight response, this enables a person to either engage in direct action to stop the fear inducing agent or removing one’s self from the agent. The sympathetic branch of the autonomic system becomes active during these situations causing increased heart rate, respiration rate via dilation of bronchi, release of epinephrine and norepinephrine, glucose release, and the inhibition of digestive functions.
Sadness has markedly different bodily arousal such as increased activity in the temporal cortex, cerebellum, caudate, putamen, midbrain, and thalamus. Whereas fear causes the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, sadness typically activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Other biological responses include decreased heart rate, low energy levels, and increased activity in digestive functions. This also explains why sadness causes a person to eat more than someone that is not sad.
Feelings of sadness and fear can be overwhelming for people, but there are positive and negative consequences for both. Typically, people who are feeling sad show aversive, negative, and distressed feelings. Fear is usually associated with agitation, anxiety, apprehension, uneasy, and avoidance. Fear can cause people to act irrationally and possibly destructive causing harm to themselves or others. Sadness can also cause someone to act irrationally or lead someone to be self-destructive or cope with alcohol or illicit drugs. These are clearly examples of the negative...