Normal and abnormal regular involuntary and unnoticed reflex breathing patterns, including changes to ventilatory depth and rate, are the neglected link that can accompany emotion, and behavior and even brain function. And this is important to know and understand.
Why is this important?
I think that this is important because of the need for constant fluctuation and adjustments to breathing patterns in order to maintain proper organ system pH and endogenous carbon dioxide levels and overall ratio’s of internal gases. Emotion and locomotor behaviors help to adjust biochemistry accordingly. Changes to ventilatory patterns that are so intrinsic to different emotions and behaviours, that we take them for granted. Yet in the course of a 24 hour day, these fluctuations will control overall pH and endogenous carbon dioxide levels in the body and in the brain and other organ systems.
Our emotions and behavior are always also linked to our physiology and biochemistry. The involuntary and stereotyped fluctuation of our breathing during changes to locomotor behavior and physical expression of emotions [ and thoughts] participate in changing the ratio’s of air flowing in and out of the lungs, fine-tuning our biochemistry and pH and endogenous carbon dioxide. One could say that changes in speed and depth of ventilation drive emotional sensations and spontaneous emotions will likewise change ventilation patterns in stereotyped ways. Chronic patterns of emotion and/locomotor behavior are abnormal and are not adaptive to external responses of the individual but may be extremely adaptive to abnormal internal biochemical conditions. These chronic expressions of continual distress and sadness, for example, accompanied by diminished locomotor activity may be acting in the best interest of maintenance of internal homeostasis during physical stress caused by lingering effects of an injury or of an infection or of deficiency of a co-enzyme needed for metabolism or from any number of causes of lethargy and being unwell.
Yes, difficult life circumstances may play a part, but stereotyped and recognizable behavior [lethargic] and emotional responses [anguish, distress, or fear], will interfere with the ability to adapt to external circumstances as well as internal homeostasis needed to physically recover.
Why is fluctuation of reflex breathing patterns key to emotion, behavior and even brain function?
Because these fluctuations are part of the control system for maintaining overall safe and sufficient ratio’s of endogenous carbon dioxide and oxygen and possibly other gasotransmitters. Endogenous CO2 controls cerebral blood flow and intracranial pressure. [and I think, normal function of mind and cognition There is the direct link between breathing patterns [during rest, locomotor activity, and different emotions] and constant but normal fluctuations of pressure and blood flow inside the brain.
Physiological conditions [pressure and blood flow] in the body and the brain [eg. pH of the blood and pH of the organs themselves] will affect emotion, behavior and brain function . And emotion, and behavior [including feeding and locomotor activity] will result in changes to endogenous CO2 and thus cerebral blood flow and thus intracranial pressure.
Laughing heartily, for example, involves using different muscles of the throat and mouth to help exhale more air [carbon dioxide] and will result in a much deeper and different inhale.and will trigger different neural pathways, intact neural pathways ….and we feel good when doing this- most likely because of the physical effects influencing cerebral blood flow and intracranial pressure inside the head specifically. Sobbing accomplishes the same thing really, perhaps using different muscles and different nerve pathways and a lot of people feel better after a good cry. Physiological and biochemical changes will result.
Fear is unpleasant sensation and emotion and I am not sure what the breathing pattern is like in fear. I would suppose that breathing is shallow and too fast, [ unless like Paula and Kraepelin’s patients, fear seems caused by depressed ventilation which would be a normal response to an abnormal ventilatory pattern]. Fear, of course, can be generated by external threats or worries, but can also occur when breathing rate, depth and pattern is compromised invisibly by the function of the body’s respiratory muscle pump, nerves lungs or brain [transiently or permanently] or by external environmental exposure to mild amounts of asphyxiants or anything else that constricts breathing or muscle or nerve.
There are ALWAYS many different physiological and biochemical reasons for abnormal and chronic emotions [depression, euphoria, irritability] accompanying the psychological ones. A constant search for the invisible physiological issues [searched for and measured] must be performed throughout the period of chronically abnormal emotions and behavior, in order to make sure an involuntary and unconscious physiological is not missed- which is very easy to do, since physiology is so complicated. Finding and correcting the hidden pathophysiology should be the most effective way to return the person to their previous and flexible state of mental and physical health and restore their normal range of behavior and emotion as well. Physiology and homeostasis [biochemistry] are very complicated and many things can go wrong over the course of a person’s lifetime.
Well I still haven’t found an explanation for how the basic [so called] vital signs of respiratory rate, blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature combine to regulate circulation of blood, or pH, or maintenance of pressure gradients for blood to flow properly or control of balance of vasoconstriction and vasodilation to different parts of the body. This because I do not think anyone has studied this yet, except in poisons, where toxidromes are measured and described. Yet, understanding how vital signs affect metabolism and organ systems [especially when brain and cognitive function is affected] is pretty basic stuff to understand in my view. And certainly easy to measure, in modern times. And it was easy to measure in Dr Kraeplin’s times. So why doesn’t anyone bother to study this macro system as well as looking at microsystems of biology? It would seem important to know both. It would seem important to be able to understand molecular changes in cells and cellular systems in view of the macro changes of all the vital signs. Otherwise our molecular knowledge will lack perspective of the larger picture occurring clinically. We will be blind to the “forest” and will get lost amongst the “trees”; we will concentrate too much on the details and miss the larger pattern generating the details.
In the face of chronic and long-lasting changes to emotion and locomotor rate and activity, no one measures all the vital signs [especially not respiratory rate which is controlled by endogenous CO2- not oxygen and key to circulation of blood to the brain and to correct levels of pressure inside the head] ] in order to see if the physiology of the person is the problem.
The defensive fight or flight reaction [Heart Rate rises, Blood Pressure rises, Cortisol released] is a short term reaction and should not last weeks to months. Long lasting reactions looking similar to fight or flight, have to be examined more carefully, in the light of its dual physiological and homeostatic role. Respiratory rate is the most sensitive of these physical signs in suggesting deterioration of physical internal conditions. And respiratory rate, depth and pattern must be measured many times to see whether the normal rate of 12-16 at rest is present. Insufficient , constant abnormal ventilatory rates and patterns is an invisible or unmeasured cause of chronic changes to emotions like fear, depressive- like behavior, irritability and mania and their accompanying stereotyped locomotor patterns. The fact that everyone recognizes the stereotyped emotional and behavioural changes does not mean that these changes are psychological only. It means that underlying pathophysiology is present.
Emotions and behavior can change respiratory rate, depth and pattern, and the rest of the vital signs.. But chronic abnormalities to respiratory rate, depth and pattern can change emotions and behaviours in a chronic manner, especially during infection and recovery periods [which may be prolonged if not treated with supportive medicine] or during exposure to [invisble] asphyxiants due to poor ventilation and overcrowded conditions. Since the body controls ventilation to adjust pH and endogenous carbon dioxide, problems with the ventilatory system are crucial. In cases of poorly performant ventilatory systems, then the other organs, behavior and emotions and hormones must step up to keep metabolism and homeostasis at acceptable levels…. [eg cortisol- which affects many different functions in the body– because most bodily cells have cortisol receptors. Cortisol can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation, and assist with memory formulation. It has a controlling effect on salt and water balance and helps control blood pressure.] Cortisol | Hormone Health Networkhttps://www.hormone.org › hormones › cortisol
In cases of pathophysiological problems affecting metabolism and thermodynamics of the organism, staying alive takes precedence over everything and neither the patient or the doctor will understand this unless they look deeper into the broken physiology and correct it or support it medically.
All because of the brain and the body’s need to control and manage ratio’s of endogenous carbon dioxide, cerebral blood flow and intracranial pressure. Not to mention the other pressure gradients of the body necessary to keep blood flowing properly.
It is no wonder that problems with normal respiratory rate is a clue to why a person may experience periods of chronically altered emotion and behaviour and, if the gaseous ratio’s in the body and in the brain are especially affected, then the person will also experience altered mental status that they will not be able to communicate. This is because the effects are not dissimilar to being high on a stimulant, on a depressant, on a psychedelic, or a mild poison- one that is internal and invisible to the eye and must be reasoned out by measuring respiratory rate to hypothesize about cerebral blood flow, intracranial pressure and effects on brain function.
This is what scientists/ doctors do not realize or think about, when it comes to reversible attacks of manic depressive insanity. This is the hypothesized reason for the different patterns of emotion and locomotor activity that are linked to ventilatory defects.
Someone has to do a study to check out this hypothesis. Are the vital signs of manic depressive unmedicated patients abnormal, in particular their breathing rate , depth and/or minute ventilation? If so, then does this explain the long periods of mild delirium [all locomotor types] that they experience during the physiological stresses of hormonal change, infection and does this impeded their recovery [for years and decades sometimes].
Emile Kraepelin did the first such study that I know of [Manic depressive insanity 1926 , especially key are chapters one [definition] and chapter three [bodily signs]. He measured the vital signs, including respiratory rate, of thousands of depressed bipolar patients. No one has tried to replicate his work.
The second study was done by myself on my friend and colleague Paula, who suffered an 18 month bipolar depressive attack and one manic attack due to the side effects of Paxil, an SSRI she was given.].
Paula has a permanently depressed respiratory rate. She was unaware of this till her R.R. was measured. We have measured her R.R. many times since then, manually-with a stopwatch and counting her breaths and with special spirometry.
Not only is her respiratory rate low at 3-5 breaths per minute, but she does not increase her respiratory rate normally in response to exercise and movement and adjusts her depth instead to manage an adequate minute ventilation.
No one can tell. It is not visible to the eye without careful measurement. Measurement, you will recall, is one of the keys to excellence in science.
Measurement of respiratory rate at rest [and then-if necessary depth and the minute ventilation] is easy, simple and can identify a neurological problem with breathing immediately and repeatedly. Yet no one is doing it. And in Paula’s case, doctors are terrified of what they find out, if they are asked to measure her respiratory rate.
This is ridiculous for many reasons; it is clear that motor control of ventilation is key to the proper function of the brain, behavior and locomotor activity and speed, it is clear that altered ventilation [too slow, irregular, abnormal patterns] is key to altered brain function and if the altered ventilatory rate and pattern are altered permanently, then supportive medical help will be needed when the fewer available ways to compensate are overwhelmed when the person is ill or has normal hormonal changes which cannot be accommodated. Also, altered and abnormal ventilation at rest will eventually teach researchers about the control of pressure inside the brain, pH questions, blood flow to the brain and even perhaps how all of these explain the function of the brain and the function of mind-for they surely have a great deal to do with it.
to be continued …still editing and trying to clarify what I am suggesting……pretty hard, let me know if I am being clear or not…..